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The reputation and relationship of your hotel with its customers used to take years to build up. Now you can do it on the spot by creating a social media presence for your business.
Historically hotels have found it hard to delineate and target a specified demographic: because people from all walks of life go on holiday, and it tends to be places that attract them rather than individual businesses. Once people fall into a routine of going to the same place each year they may well select and stick with a hotel – but until that happens, the catchment area of the average hotel is – or at least was – always random.
If your hotel uses social media to actively engage with guests even after they have left, its chances of building a predictable demographic rise incrementally. Make your guests aware of your social media presence while they are staying with you – have the URL printed on your stationery, on your bill, on the key card – and they’ll probably beat the post holiday blues by signing up to see what is going on since they left.
Once you have your social media followers on board, of course, you need to make sure that you keep them interested. The key here is to devise content that is either useful to a fan of the place in which your hotel is situated (so live camera feeds for beaches, for example); or that is directly interesting to someone who has enjoyed staying in your hotel on a previous occasion.
Unlike a lot of businesses, in which the value of social media is index linked to the performance of the business itself, hotels and hospitality locations have a less predictable relationship with Facebook, Twitter and their multiple incarnations. Hotels are ultimately bound to the popularity of the place in which they sit – so you need to rely on the usual external factors to guarantee a good year: weather, the economy.
In a straight contest between a hotel with social media and a hotel without, the hotel using the social media platform wins every time. When hotel guests are not being hotel guests, they are often working in offices or looking at the Internet in their homes. In other words: they’re already surfing in a location that a hotel with social media connections is in too. So if you have taken the time to get your guests hooked while they were with you, and delivered them home with plenty of chances to join up to your social media page, you’ll pop up on their radar every time they look at their email or go to their own social networking site.
Customer service in hotel terms is defined as more than just solving problems – it’s about the whole experience of staying in your building. Social media enhances that experience by enabling your customers to extend it throughout the year, between holidays – making them more and more likely to come back again.