I was talking to Amanda, one of my trusted contacts the other day and she was complaining how few hotels, restaurants and other hospitality businesses respond to her queries on social media. In fact – she tweeted about it shortly after – and was kind enough to mention us 🙂
Around the same time, I remembered the from Sprout Social says about 9 in 10 social media messages sent to brands go ignored! Of the ones that are answered, the average wait time for an answer is 10 hours. If the brand does responds, 70% of people are more likely to use a product, 65% are more brand loyal, 25% are less likely to go somewhere else or post negative things and 75% would share the positive experience online.
This got me thinking why don’t hospitality businesses engage? I’m convinced that it would result in more customers – and that is what hotels and restaurants need isn’t it?
Shortly after, I how the Marriott’s Hotel chain use social media. Marriott’s have a set up a social centre where employees look at what people are saying about the brand and respond.
Marriott’s take this one step further and use geofencing technology to see what people are saying on public platforms within their properties. If a guest posts about an issue, they reach out to the customer care team to get it sorted. If guest posts they have just got engaged, customer service may offer them champagne or something else to show they are valued. This is a fantastic example of a brand listening to their audience and caring what they say and the company has said that this engagement leads directly to hotel bookings.
You might also be interested in our recent about how football clubs are engaging on social media.
So why doesn’t everybody do this?
To be honest, I’m not really sure, but I think there are a few reasons:
- Not everybody has the resource to set up a team of employees to do nothing but look at social media. However, if it leads directly to bookings is it not worth allocating some resource?
- There is a lack of understanding about how to use social media for engagement rather than promotion. It is a change in mindset about being helpful and offer added value rather than talking about how wonderful you are. Some training might be needed.
- The systems aren’t in place to handle social media. System and tools are available to help – again some training might be needed.
How can you engage with customers?
There are three ways you might have engagement with customers on social media:
- Answer Queries
I think it comes down to looking at social media as another customer touch point, rather than a promotional tool. Any customer focused business should map all their customer touch points and review them to see how they can be improved. Do you pick up the phone when customers call? Do you answer emails? Social media queries and mentions need to be treated the same way. Even if you the business owner doesn’t like social media, you need to realise that it is the communication method of choice for some of your customers. If you ignore them, they will go elsewhere.
- Customer Complaints
Yes, there is a danger of receiving more customer complaints if you are active on social media. However, I’m not sure that this risk decreases significantly if you are not on social media – you just won’t see the complaints and won’t be able to respond. At least you have a chance to correct the problem if you see it on social media – as Marriott’s have shown.
- Abuse / Trolls
OK, so this isn’t really engagement and it is not something that you would want, but we have to be realistic and say that it might happen. I know of people who have left social media because they received abuse from competitors and others. This is a risk like any other risk that you need to assess. What is the best way of dealing with it? The channels are getting better at allowing you to block abusive accounts and you need to put the procedures in place to know that it is not personal and to report abuse where necessary. Hopefully, the new to target trolls will help reduce offenders.
What about promotion?
As I said earlier, you need a different mindset. You have to put yourself into the shoes of your customers and think about what they want to see from you. Pictures of food are popular, as are recipes, unusual ways of cooking, special events, getting to know the personalities behind the business and where the food is sourced. Special offers and discounts may work occasionally, but it is a case of mixing it up and not just talking about how wonderful you are or saying ‘come to our restaurant / hotel’.
So what next?
- Allocate resource to social media in the same way you allocate resource to answer the telephone or email queries.
- Put social media on mobile devices to make it easy to engage
- Create a content plan to identify what you can talk about
- Listen out for people talking about you and show that you care
Do contact us if you need help with social media training or content management – we would be delighted to help you increase your customer numbers.