I believe social media can help the hospitality industry through the Great Recession and give it a much needed communications makeover in the process.
The hospitality industry adopts late on most things new – especially technology. However, throughout 2010, we have seen a tremendous increase in hotels, both brand chains and independent properties, that have, at the very least, built Facebook and Twitter pages. Other hotels have chosen to join Foursquare and other rich media that make sense to them.
The publishing shakeout during the past couple of years that was fueled by the rise of social media provided hoteliers the opportunity to identify new areas where key messages can be shared and discussed in real time. From a PR perspective, the feedback gained from guests is priceless, but like any other communications vehicle, social media’s power must be harnessed to yield the most effective results.
Following are some tips for hotels to keep in mind in 2011 for social media PR:
- Understand your key messages. Once you’ve outlined your goals and objectives for 2011, assign specific marketing and PR goals that are supported by social media tactics. Work with your staff to define key messages that communicate the guest experience to attract the right audience.
- Involve your staff in the social media campaign. It’s important to manage your hotel’s reputation online, and it makes sense to have several eyes monitoring Facebook and Twitter, even with their own accounts. Training is necessary, as are proper boundaries on what employees can discuss, but a collective approach to your social media campaign can prove to be effective in the long run.
- Hire a pro. Whether you decide to take social media in house or not, keep in mind, it’s still a PR and marketing function that requires professional know-how. Depending on the presence you want to have on social media, hiring a professional to get you started on the right track is worth the investment.
- Use metrics to evaluate the campaign. Like any campaign, it’s important to understand the concepts of post quality, interactions, and comments on social media. Quality is more important than quantity in the long term, so focus on specific social media goals in order to achieve the most from your campaign.
- Moderate the conversations. Remember, it’s what the guests talk about with their friends that make the difference! When you moderate conversations, try to stay on topic and keep comments focused. Similarly, if a guest complaint goes viral, it must be handled directly and tactfully. A professional can help with crisis management PR plans and tactics to ensure your message stays intact.
Didi Lutz is an award-winning public relations professional specializing in travel and hospitality. She creates and executes PR strategies for luxury hotel and restaurant openings and rebrandings, and can be found at www.didilutzpr.com.