Travel

Hotels should use Twitter for customer service, not marketing

Hotels should use Twitter for customer service, not marketing

Author Nancy Huang, source

Instagram has become the “hot” social media network for hospitality brands due to its highly visual platform and large engagement. But what of its predecessor, Twitter? Is it still useful for hotel marketers?

If a hotel brand is using Twitter the same way it utilizes Instagram and Facebook, then the answer is “no.” When it comes to sharing content, Twitter is less effective than other social media platforms. But with more than 284 million monthly users who are hashtagging and utilizing the mentions/replies system, Twitter still reigns as the platform for listening, conversing, and starting real-time buzz.

Therefore, Twitter is most useful for customer service, not marketing.

The industry’s poor track record

Research shows hotels are pretty bad at using Twitter for customer service. Hospitality brands have been overwhelmed by the volume of inquiries and complaints delivered via social media. A 2014 study indicates, on average, hotels take more than seven hours to respond via Twitter, with less than 20% of @ mentions receiving replies.

While a prompt response demonstrates a company is listening, extended silences implies the opposite. Part of the problem is there are more messages to sift through on social media than traditional phone or email channels. Hotel staff may not possess the necessary skills to respond since replying to tweets differs from in-person customer service.

Going above and beyond

While the industry as a whole might lag in using Twitter as a customer service tool, certain hospitality brands are doing it better than competitors. Some hotel groups have dedicated social media teams, while others integrate social channels within larger customer service departments.

Starwood has received a great deal of praise for its social media efforts. The brand’s 33-minute average response time on Twitter is approximately 42x faster than the industry average.  It’s made possible with 3,000 customer service representatives in 10 offices across the globe. Starwood’s staff replies quickly, and they keep their eyes peeled to “surprise and delight” new and returning guests, remembering that even small, personalized gestures leave positive, lasting impressions.

Hilton also impresses with prompt response times, aiming to reply within an hour and resolve within a day. The global brand has expanded from providing mere response management to proactively offering recommendations in 120 cities. Managed by a decentralized team to offer the best local travel tips, the hotel group launched the @HiltonSuggests handle to provide valuable, authentic information. Users, whether they are current customers or not, can reach out to the account for personalized expert advice. 

One final noteworthy brand is Hyatt, which takes the platform’s listening function to a whole new level. The brand recently hosted the “world’s largest focus group” on Twitter to receive feedback on guest experience, and used the findings to implement on-site improvements.

Proactive customer service

Hotels can use Twitter for proactive customer service. This strategy involves listening to travel issues of people in the area, complaints about competitors, and reacting accordingly. For example, if a traveler tweets “X hotel overbooked and doesn’t have a room for me now” or “help, we’re stranded in Boston because of travel delays,” a hotel brand can jump in and assist.

Proactive customer service presents massive opportunity for hotels to gain loyal new customers. Follow these tips to develop a proactive Twitter strategy:

  • Set up custom Twitter feeds to follow mentions of your competitors + certain keywords, like “frustrated” or “disappointed.” If you see an opportunity to respond, reply directly to the tweet.
  • Set up custom feeds to monitor for stranded travelers who might be in need of a room. Use combinations of words such as “flight + canceled + stranded + (your city).”
  • Monitoring combinations of hotel names + “I” or “I am” or “I’m” will reveal tweets expressing personal sentiment.
  • Not everything has to be about complaints. Similar to @HiltonSuggests, you can delight first time visitors to your city. Look for combinations like “first + time + travel + (your city).”

Tweet your way to success

Ultimately, it’s clear Twitter is more effective for listening and conversing versus broadcasting. Take a page out of some of the global hotel brands’ books and go a step beyond basic response management. Implementing preemptive tactics on Twitter could be the key to publicly demonstrating outstanding customer service, bringing in more business, and nurturing a valuable new generation of social-savvy brand loyalists.

Source: http://www.traveltripper.com/blog/hotels-should-use-twitter-for-customer-service-not-marketing/

More article on: www.gianoraconsulting.com

The Traveler has Changed: Is Your Hotel Changing Along?

By Manisha Pathak, Source and full article: http://www.4hoteliers.com

As a hotelier, have you ever wondered how people used to travel in the 19th century when there was no internet, computers and mobiles? 

We live in the 21st century where we are highly dependent on internet and technology for literally everything in life; be it research, shopping, booking, recipes, consultation and even dating! I sometimes wonder how people communicated, discovered and traveled to places back then. How would they have dealt a problem without mobiles?

An interesting story about hotel guests from the 70s inspired me to write this blog piece when internet didn’t even exist. The story of a couple that arrived at a 3 star hotel after a tiring day and wanted to desperately get checked-in to their room to unwind themselves. They were sure about the reservation as they had made a booking over call prior to their arrival.

Much to their surprise, the hotel didn’t have any rooms vacant in spite of them agreeing to pay a double price for a night’s stay. The couple was disheartened and forced to take shelter in a motel close by, which did not match up to their standards. This chaos could have been avoided if both the hotel and the guest had a booking confirmation.

Now imagine this scenario in today’s era: travelers arrive at the hotel with a booking confirmation and if they face any negligence or denial by the hotel or the staff, they are all over the internet through posting negative reviews and demanding prompt action. Such is the evolution of internet and technology that has changed the traveler’s journey; from being dependent to being totally in control.

From researching a location, finding a hotel to booking a room, completing the stay and sharing the experience with others; the travelers have changed in many ways. Here’s taking a look at some of the former and latter scenarios:

Oh, I discovered this XYZ destination

Then: Earlier, people would hear about a destination from their family, friends and then visit a traditional travel agent for travel consultation. Due to their limited income, many couldn’t even afford to go through a travel agent.

Now: The first thing the traveler does is look up the net when they hear or read about a new destination. With the internet, they are able to finalize on their destinations through search engines, review media sites or social media posts from a friend’s holiday. Also, the new generation has more spending power and doesn’t compromise on comfort anymore.

Well, I’ve finalized my destination, now what about the hotel?

Then: Back in the days, deciding a hotel used to be a travel agent’s job or people would look at brochures and make phone calls to book their stay. The example of the couple stated above shows that there was no certainty of booking which means booking via calls was merely tentative.

Now: Thanks to the advent of Online Travel Agents (OTAs), review sites, Google and social media; travelers are pretty much researching and booking hotel rooms on their own.

Am I missing out on the seasonal deals and offers?

Then: Since travelers used to visit traditional travel agents, they ended up paying high fee to them, let alone the price of the hotel. Even if they were entitled to discounts or special offers, the cost of paying to both travel agents and hotel was higher.

Now: The traveler researches online for the best deals, finalizes and instantly books. There are provisions to check-in online too. More or less, the travelers themselves play the role of a travel agent.

Destination: Check: Hotel: check … what next?

Then: Back then, pick and drop services weren’t very common so people used to reach the hotel by themselves. They informed their closed ones through phones about their whereabouts and safety.

Now: Hotels get asked for pick and drop services, travelers book a sightseeing package prior to their arrival and inform everyone through posts and pictures on social media about their whereabouts, often on-the-go.

Travelers have definitely come a long way in the last few decades. They have become more independent about making their choices and are well aware of the platforms to research, consult and book on their own.

Here’s a graphic representation of the modern traveler’s behavior:

Looking at the statistics, one can understand that:

  • The traveler’s online behavior has advanced
  • They are no longer restricting themselves to big brands
  • Solo travelers have increased and they are not usually single, but are more likely to be married or in a committed relationship
  • Mobile bookings are gaining popularity and are predicted to increase to 25% of online bookings by 2017 (Source: Carlson Wagonlit Travel). What is more interesting for the hotel owners is that 40% of leisure travelers and 36% of business travelers book overnight accommodations in hotels using their mobile phones. (Source: suit.booking).
  • Google’s research also suggests that when booking a hotel, travelers tend to book via mobile browser compared to apps.

A Google study reveals 5 stages of a traveler’s journey – dreaming, researching, planning, experiencing and sharing.

It is highly important and at the same time, challenging for your hotel to target your next guest at each of these stages.

Author: Manisha Pathak, Source and full article: http://www.4hoteliers.com