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Franchisors, Owners, Operators:

Questions You Always Wanted to Ask About Social Media


By Julie Keyser-Squires, APR
 
 
If you are a franchisor, owner or operator, you may be asking these four questions about social media:
  1. What is the ROI of social marketing?
  2. How aggressively do we want to play on the social media front?
  3. Is it enough for the brand to communicate on behalf of hotels or do franchisees want their hotels to provide individual promotions and unique offerings?
  4. What kind of manpower does it take to stay in touch with “followers”? Can hotels feasibly dedicate the resources individually, or should the responsibility be with a brand marketing and eBusiness effort? 
Here are the answers, with a focus on social media sites Twitter and Facebook.  First, however, would you consider one more question that could jump start your participation in social media:

“How did you create your revenue management strategy and processes?”

Julie Keyser-Squires is CFO and VP of Softscribe Inc.  Give her a shout on Twitter.com, @Juliesquires.
  1. What is the ROI on your revenue management program?
  2. How aggressively do you deploy it? 
  3. Is it owned at the brand level, the property level, or both?
  4. What are the manpower commitments? 100% to 25% of one – or more - person’s time? 
Revenue management and marketing are two sides of the same coin.  Both are integral to every area of the enterprise; each requires internal consensus and a cultural shift; and both can positively impact top line revenue. You might be able to leverage an earlier learning curve as you consider these questions about your social media involvement.

1. What is the ROI of social media (or “Want a cheap hotel?  Just give up the bed.”)
In social marketing, is Return on Investment becoming Return on Engagement?  Possibly.  Although among franchisors, owners and operators it is still in the early adoption phase, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and luxury resort The Rancho Bernardo Inn already realize measurable success.

  • Since engaging in social media in 1Q ‘09, visits to the Kimpton website have increased 500 percent and 600 percent (year over year) from its Facebook fan page and Twitter, respectively. Look for the goldfish icon.
  • General Manager John Gates (@GMGoneMad on Twitter) at the luxury destination resort Rancho Bernardo Inn realizes two to three responses per offering of his pop up specials on Twitter, including the Inn’s exciting “Survivor Packages” below:
    • Posted 8:50 AM May 15th .  “Check out our new "Survivor" Package: Just $219 per night,including deluxe  accommodations and breakfast for 2. Stay tuned for details...” 
    • And eight posts later with each “tweet” shaving $20 to $30 off the rate:
    • Posted 7:30 PM May 15th. “My FINAL offer:    Stay for $19 without breakfast, honor bar, A/C, heat, pillows, sheets, lights, linens, toiletries or bed!”
  • Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is on both Twitter and Facebook to create a greater awareness and understanding of its brand.
A quick search on Twitter.com reveals that companies like Wyndham Worldwide Corporation, Choice Hotels International, Inc., Hilton Hotels Corporation, Best Western International, Inc., and InterContinental Hotels Group are starting to have a presence as well.

2. How aggressively do we want to play on the social media front? 

  • Depends on your business.  A personality driven sales approach like Kimpton’s, which is not a hard sell, may be a good fit.
  • Consider a balance between exploring social marketing venues and executing on your existing marketing and Internet public relations plan.
3.  Is it enough for the brand to communicate on behalf of hotels or do franchisees want their hotels to provide individual promotions and unique offerings?
  • Both.
  • Facebook lets individual hotels share tips about their cities and local promotions.
  • On Facebook, people post interesting content three to four times a week, which is manageable for most hotels (Twitter posts can stream into Facebook, too, which lets you repurpose content.).
  • Twitter, where the norm is three posts per day, could be a better fit for corporate communications teams, although many properties are on Twitter as well. 
  • Franchisors, owners and operators that allow any employee to start a Twitter account might consider instituting corporate social computing guidelines. IBM’s social marketing guide is a good example and may be modified [http://www.ibm.com/blogs/zz/en/guidelines.html].
4.   What kind of manpower does it take to stay in touch with “followers”? Can hotels feasibly dedicate the resources individually, or should the responsibility be with a brand marketing and eBusiness effort? 
  • Consider carving resources out of your existing communications – or revenue management – team.
  • During the learning curve, maintaining a presence on Facebook and Twitter can take from 15 to 30% of one person’s time for a brand the size of Kimpton.  Tools like TweetDeck, which let you categorize the people you follow on Twitter, can streamline tracking “followers.”
  • Some brands, like Fairmont, have a different individual dedicated to each social media touch point.  Team members can spend from 30 to 50% of their time on social media and the remainder on traditional marketing.
If you are a franchisor, owner or operator, you may be guiding your team to tighten the relationship between revenue management and marketing.  You know that promotions which include precisely targeted incentives can drive incremental revenue to the top line; social media gives you tools to serve them up in engaging ways. 

A question:  Would you like me to write a similar article on social media strategies?  Email me at Julie@softscribeinc.com or twitter me at @Juliesquires.

Julie Keyser-Squires, APR, and CFO, vice president of Softscribe Inc., is passionate about using technology to connect people and ideas.  You can give her a shout at Julie@softscribeinc.com, on twitter @Juliesquires, make a comment on her business blog, “First Light, and sign up for her free quarterly video email snack at www.marketingsnacks.com

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Contact:

Julie Keyser-Squires, APR
Softscribe Inc.
Julie@softscribeinc.com
(404)256-5512
http://www.softscribeinc.com

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