Back in 2010 when I decided to combine my knowledge with Hotels, IT and Social Media I knew then it was going to be an interesting journey and challenge I had set myself up for.
Working within the Hotel Family gave insight that was of great value. I discovered then that Hotels was slow to adapt to the demands on new technology. Many Hotels had rigid systems and software solutions they relied on would do the job for them.
And even though many Hotels started a transformation into adapting to new technology there was something forced over the whole process. The technology arrived at the Hotels but there now was a new demand for people that knew how to handle this technology.
Hotels have for centuries been accustomed to be in the driver seat where they had full control of the content.
A little history
Some of the early shifts that Hotels experience was in the late 90’s when call centers were introduced, and they started to sell Hotel inventory through the call centers. And from this we saw the first powerhouse Online Travel Agency – Hotels.com raise.
After this, we saw Travelocity, Priceline, Orbitz, and Expedia. And it was during this era we saw another powerhouse raise – Tripadvisor.
One of the larger Online Travel Agency powerhouses today Booking.com was originally formed in 1996, but it was when Priceline came onboard in 2005 it started its phenomenal growth and success.
With Booking.com tremendous success they also started to revolutionize their Digital Marketing strategies.
Either you like Booking.com or not they were the first Online Travel Agency that really understood the power of People To People networking. They build a powerful community of ambassadors that became loyal to the service portal.
A new shift
One of the key topics I have focused on over the years has been to build a Community. I believe the value is in the people and your Hotels ambassadors.
Online Travel Agencies created their own alternative platform that could meet new demands and needs of customers. Hotels have over the years fuzzed over OTA and their fees, but essentially they have accepted their presence and the purpose they serve.
In 2008 we saw a whole new player enter the field. It was first called Airbed & Breakfast, and in 2009 it becomes the brand we today know as Airbnb. The event that originally got Airbnb off the ground was the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.
Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia wanted to take advantage of the Hotel room shortage. Airbnb did not see a big traction before 2010 when they launched a Photography program, allowing hosts to automatically schedule a professional photographer to take nice photos of their space.
But the implementations that made the biggest impact and made Airbnb known to the world was when they in 2011 introduced Social Connections. Airbnb allowed you to hook up the service to your social graph via Facebook Connect. Click one button, opt-in, and you were good to go. In the listings for cities around the world, you’ll now see an avatar if a Facebook friend of yours is friends with the host or has reviewed the host. It was absolutely brilliant.
In 2012 Airbnb overtakes Hilton Hotels in nights booked. And in 2014 Airbnb partner with the Concur with the goal of capturing more of the corporate travel market.
In 2015 Airbnb introduced one of their more innovative open source tools – Price Tips. This tools it creates ongoing suggestions for pricing creates based on several metrics, like demand for rooms, travel, and so on. For example, if there’s a conference in any given city, it will suggest the room owner raising the prices of their listings.
Another tool allows the users to send gift cards to their community.
Airbnb represent a true People To People service.
And the principles I have illustrated here both with Online Travel Agencies and Airbnb represent a shift where Hotels need to play a more active role in today.
Communities and People To People service
Customer Service has been defined as “the degree of assistance and courtesy granted those who patronize a business”. And Hospitality has been defined as “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers”.
Today with Social and New Media Customer Service Hospitality has been totally redefined. With People to People networks and dedicated Communities service standards is set and driven by a group of loyal people within the networks or communities.
Hotels can no longer dictate the service they provide they must listen to the People to People networks and the dedicated Communities.
Because of this one of the key things Hotels need to start with today is to implement a dedicated task force handling day to day Social Media tasks. I can’t emphasize enough the importance and urgency of doing this.
Since I had the opportunity to work as Social Media Manager for several Hotels it provided me with some extremely valuable knowledge and experience. Because of this, I learned some important and valuable lessons.
One important lesson I learned is that the Hotel need to know how to respond to the conversations on their Social Media profiles. Today timing of a response can be critical to how the customer will review your Hotel. The response must be timely, relevant and provide solutions. And often the Social Media Manager is not the right person to provide this type of response.
Because of this for my personal purpose, I have over a period now made a shift from Social Media Management towards Social Media Consulting. I will still continue to provide some of my Hotel Social Media Manager services.
My mission is to focus on helping Hotels build a solid Social Media Foundation through training, coaching and mentoring. Through my services, I will focus on People to People networks, dedicated Communities and how to identify the most loyal people within the Community. I will assist with build your Hotels Social Media task force and implement a dedicated response strategy.
Once the foundation is in place we will move on to focus on targeted pillars that take advantage of what the People to People networks and dedicated Communities bring on the table.
In my experience, I have seen Hotels wanted to skip directly to this part. But without a solid foundation, your pillars will eventually fall apart. Social and New Media are tools that assist with new innovative alternative solutions. But it will under no circumstance provide any type of quick fixes.
My overall goal is to help utilize Social and New Media in new ways that will make your Hotel become a new competitive alternative for both new and renewing customers.
Together we can make a difference and show customers that Hotels will again be their Home away from Home.
During this month, I am in the process of transferring all my data and information into my new blog layout. My domain name will remain the same. It is a new outlook that represents the content I provided in this article.
I will use this opportunity to thank all of you for your input, thoughts, and feedback. And especially I will thank the Hotels where I served as a Hotel Social Media Manager.
Look forward to seeing you all back again here to my new outlook. And I especially look forward to serving the Hospitality Industry in my new role.
Hotel Marketing Coach
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