Positive interaction - EHMA president Hans Koch27 October 2016
Far from being mere extensions of a property’s website, the ever expanding array of social media channels forms an increasingly vital part of a hotel’s communication strategy. EHMA president Hans Koch examines how to get the best from these powerful online tools, and draws attention to the ways in which misuse of them can sometimes lead to disaster.
To succeed in today’s increasingly competitive environment, a company must explore every available channel to boost its image, manage its reputation and generate new business. It is crucial to stay one step ahead of the game every day, hour and minute, and social media tools are an important weapon in this fierce battle.
The cultivation of social media channels, however, requires specific skills. It is essential to hire internet and social media experts, or to consult a professional agency in order to set up, maintain and get the maximum benefit from these tools.
One must always be aware of, and able to react to, posts and daily news from competitors, partners and clients, while at the same time managing to be sufficiently entertaining and original to stand out in the digital jungle. Humour tends to work better than formal, conventional approaches; statistics show that unique posts hitting the news are the most shared.
Social media channels are perfect for community management. Including links to local partners and attractions on Twitter, Facebook and other online platforms will bring online interaction and expand your sphere of influence.
One should also connect to other cities of interest and tourist offices, as well as to sister hotels, which will raise your own awareness and attract new followers. Sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp are also social media tools: it is important not only to manage a hotel’s online reputation by inviting guests to share their experiences, but also to respond to these reviews.
Don’t feel bad about negative feedback, instead give open and constructive replies. In some situations, it may even be appropriate to offer compensation in an original and unique way that your competitors will struggle to emulate. Finally, ensure that hotels’ profiles are continuously managed and updated with interesting stories, attractive pictures and contact information.
Burgeoning social media use also, of course, comes with some potential drawbacks and pitfalls. Recent cases in the hospitality industry have demonstrated how inappropriate use of such technology can turn into a nightmare for those involved.
If a hotel finds itself in the news for the wrong reasons, blog statements on social media channels must be carefully managed; online storms can develop within minutes and can quickly spiral out of control.
Overall, social media can be an extremely effective and powerful means of boosting a hotel’s image, managing its reputation and generating new business, but a degree of caution must always be exercised in order to minimise the likelihood of negative publicity.
If in doubt, play it safe
Stay within common media if you feel obliged to react to something negative that has appeared in the printed press: put out a statement and try to avoid any environments in which reactions are open to everybody and beyond your influence.