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Social Media Education - Your First Line of Defense


By O'Rourke Hospitality Marketing
June 9, 2010

You’ve toiled tirelessly to work through and gain approval for your hotel’s social media strategy and now it is ready for action. Goals and measurement objectives have been put in place. You have identified team members to monitor your online reputation and set up a procedure to respond to guest comments. The executive team is on board. The sales and marketing teams are ready to participate. Online accounts and profiles have been carefully crafted. But you could be missing one crucial step.  Have you educated your front-of-the-house staff about the impact social media has on your business?
 
Online reviews and comments aren’t created out of thin air, they are based on experiences and the good news is your staff can influence them greatly. They are the first to greet your guests and the last to send them off. More than lobby decor, room amenities or facility offerings, your staff’s actions and reactions are what truly shape user reviews.  It is vital that you educate them about the viral power of the service they deliver.
 
Unlike the hard copy comment cards, online user reviews can be potentially seen by millions of travelers. Tripadvisor.com alone has more than 34 million unique monthly visitors and more than 35 million reviews - Yelp.com isn’t far behind with around 31 million visitors a month. Add Expedia and all of the OTA reviews and you can see how magnified the service levels at your property can become.
 
The sheer number of eyeballs alone is staggering, but what is even more compelling is the the impact user-generated reviews have on traveler purchases. According to a study conducted by comScore with The Kelsey Group, nearly one in four online users reports using online reviews before purchasing and 40% of those who consulted an online hotel review actually stayed at the property. Of review users, 87% reported that the review had an impact on their purchase.

You can take steps to help your staff understand the significant part they play in your social media strategy and how much weight their actions carry with guests both during and after their stay. Here are some tips to help you get started.

1.  Start on Day One - Staff orientation is the perfect place to introduce the importance of social media. See if your human resources or training team will allow you to hijack a section of their agenda to impart this crucial message to new hires. Keep the presentation simple and powerful and use examples to illustrate your points. Consider using real reviews and have staff role play how they would have dealt with the guest.

2.  Share the Love - If your managers currently use comment cards to call out the stars of your staff, they can do the same with glowing online reviews. This is an easy way to incorporate the power of online reviews into everyday discourse. Of course, they’ll want to be sure to showcase a balance of fantastic reviews and some items that need working on as well.

3.  Buzz
- Create and distribute a monthly social media Buzz Report that pulls together a range of reviews from a variety of online review sites. This report will help tell the story of your online reputation, identify trends month over month and give your front-of-the-house managers some benchmark data that they can easily share with their team members. If you don’t have a reputation monitoring tool that can help with this, consider creating it in a simple Powerpoint document.

4.  Reward Five Star Service
- Creating an award that is given to a particular department or team that was regularly mentioned in five star online reviews over the year is a fun way to involve staff and get them as excited about positive mentions as you are.

If you would like to learn more about Hotel Website Design and Optimization please call O’Rourke Hospitality Marketing at 978-465-5955 or send an email to: info@orourkehospitality.com.

O’Rourke will be attending HITEC 2010, June 21-24, Orlando, Fla. Stop by our booth (#1234) and enter to win an Apple iPad!
 
About O’Rourke Hospitality Marketing
Founded in 2001, O’Rourke is an award-winning hospitality marketing firm headquartered in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Serving national and international clients, O’Rourke provides hotels with a complete range of services including Internet marketing, hotel website design and development, and print design. Clients include major brands as Marriott International, Renaissance Hotels, and Winegardner & Hammons, Inc. For more information see the O’Rourke website: http://www.orourkehospitality.com/ 

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Contact:

O’Rourke Hospitality Marketing
44 Merrimac Street
Newburyport
MA 01950

http://www.orourkehospitality.com

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