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Chris Brogan Interview - Hotels that Listen to Social Media Generate Business

Chris Brogan was very busy running the show at the 2009 Inbound Marketing Summit in Boston, MA, yet being the cool guy that he is, he took the time to share his own insight with us on how hotels should be using Social Media.

Chris is President of New Marketing Labs, and one of the masterminds behind the Inbound Marketing Summit Conferences. He is also the co-founder of the PodCamp new media conference series. His blog ranks #1 on the Ad Age Power 150, and in the top 100 on Technorati. Chris is the co-author of the New York Times Bestseller, ‘Trust Agents,’ with Julien Smith. Trust Agents is about using the web to build influence, improve reputation, and earn trust, as explained on the cover of the book. 

Tom O’Rourke, founder/president of O’Rourke Hospitality Marketing caught up with Chris at the Summit, and asked him his thoughts on how the Hotel Industry should be using Social Media. Tom explained to Chris that many General Managers of hotels are thinking of getting into social media, but they aren’t too sure how to use it, or how to staff it. Many are not sure how it is going to help them in the business. He asked Chris what he would recommend to these general managers.

Chris responded by giving a couple examples of hotels and car services that captured his business and attention, just because they were listening and responding in the social media space when he needed them.

Chris explains:

I travel every 2 days – I’m in a hotel more often than I’m in my own bed. There’s so much you can do in this space.

My repeat study is this - The Roger Smith Hotel. I said on Twitter, just to the general audience, ‘Hey, where are cool kids staying in Manhattan these days?’ As you know Manhattan has 400 hotels, probably more than that even. I received an answer right away from this guy Chris who said, ‘The Roger Smith Hotel.’ The very next guy was Brett Petersel from Mashable, ‘The Roger Smith Hotel – they treat you really nice there.’ The third person was The Roger Smith Hotel. They tell me, ‘You should come by, we have a blogger’s discount.’ I said, ‘well sure.’ I stayed, I had a great time. They are always vigilant, they are always paying attention, they are always bringing in revenue by being kind. They are doing nothing harder than saying we’d love to have you here, there might be a discount.
I’ve seen lots of other hotel chains do it. I mentioned I had to come down to Miami. Three hotels talked to me. I mentioned I’m going to this location and they said, ‘If you’re ever in our area we’d love to have you here.’ So if nothing else, the listening element of the social media tools is business generation. Pure and easy.

Tom agrees with Chris, and emphasizes the importance of listening in the Hotel Industry. Tom states, “A lot of the hotels I see out there today, and the way they are using social media tools like Twitter, it’s kind of taking a social media tool and still using it in a traditional way – in so far as ‘here are my special deals.’ Are they listening or are they speaking too much?”

Chris responds:

They’re just talking, and we don’t care. The difference is, it’s called listening and point of need. Marcell LeBrun from Radian 6 had that term. He said that it only comes when you are at the point of need. For example, I’m in Seattle . . . I mention that I have a problem. I said my cab hasn’t showed up, my town car also hasn’t shown up. I’m waiting. I’m due at Microsoft. A guy with a national footprint of professional car service contacts me right away on Twitter and says, ‘Here’s my number - if you ever have this problem again, call me soon enough and I’ll fix it anywhere in the U.S.’ That’s listening! But if he had asked me 3 weeks ago - I have a car service, you should get my car service, it’s great - I would have paid no attention. I didn’t have the issue then.
So if someone’s saying, ‘We’re heading to Vegas,’ or if someone’s saying, ‘We’re planning to take a beautiful golfing trip to Sanibel Island Florida,’ that’s when you say, ‘I run the Sanibel Harbor Resort, and it’s a beautiful hotel and it’s got a great course right down the road. We’d love to have you here. Come by!’ The minute you get that personalized touch, the minute they act like a person, you are doing business with people. You don’t do business with advertisements. Sometimes a pretty picture helps but if there’s no human behind it, to kind of bring us in and tell a story with us, there’s no value.
Here at O’Rourke, we hope that after having watched this video you begin to think about your own hotel’s reputation management and social media strategy. Are you listening to your guests? They are talking! If you aren’t participating in the social media space yet, we recommend that you start by listening. If you are participating in Social Media, are you listening and responding as much as you could?
It does take some time and commitment to listen, however it has become a necessary task if you want to know who your guests are, what they are saying about you and your competition, what they like and dislike, and how you can improve your hotel. Listening is also imperative in order to stay on top of reputation management. Many companies now have positions such as ‘Chief Listening Officer,’ and that person does nothing but research and listen to what customers say and want.

John Jantsch, creator of Duct Tape Marketing, and a presenter at the 2009 Inbound Marketing Summit, compiled a list of a ‘do it yourself’ tools that help you monitor conversations surrounding your brand or hotel.  The list can be found on his blog, and we have recreated it below:

Google alerts – Google Alerts allows you set-up customer searches for any phrase and receive email or RSS alerts any time your phrase shows up in online media, blogs, web pages and news.

Search.twitter – For now, monitoring twitter is a separate stream (Google seems to be adding twitter conversations to SERPs) – using the advanced search function allows you set-up very specific searches, even including geographic details. These searches produce RSS feeds and can then be subscribed to. – Similar to Google Alerts, but for twitter. Set-up search phrases and receive notification any time your phrases show up in twitter conversations. – focuses on the most popular bulletin board conversations and can turn up responses that don’t show up anywhere else. Some industries still have very heavy bulletin board use. – Backtype is a search engine of sorts that focuses on blog comments. Blog comments don’t often make it into the mainstream search results so this is a way to listen in on this set of content.

Social Mention – this is a mashup search engine of many of the formats of content such as audio and video – I’ve found it a very nice way to turn up some mentions that don’t occur anywhere else.

There are also many advanced paid services that allow you to organize and filter the data you collect. These services also help you analyze the information which can help you see trends and new opportunities. John has also compiled a list of some popular paid services.

Radian6 – Robust set of analytics, relates data in some very cool ways

Trackur – advanced set of tools, well worth the cost

Buzzlogic – focuses on helping you find key influencers driving conversations.

Filtrbox – very easy to use, powerful and low cost

These tools and services are very helpful and they can capture many comments about your hotel on Twitter, travel-blogs, and forums. However, they may not be capturing all the user-generated reviews from travel review sites such as TripAdvisor, Expedia,, Travelocity, Orbitz, Travelocity, and Fodor’s. If you are using a reputation management service check to see if they include reviews from these travel review sites.

 “Hotels today cannot afford to continue thinking in a traditional marketing format. They need to stop pushing their message through conventional channels that tend to interrupt their audience. It’s time to make a change. Listen, Participate, and Engage through Inbound Marketing,” says Tom O’Rourke.

If you would like to develop a social media and reputation management strategy but don’t know where to start, give us a call at 978-465-5955 or send an e-mail to [email protected]


O’Rourke Hospitality Marketing
44 Merrimac Street
MA 01950

Also See: Create Videos about Your Hotel - Your Guests Already Are! / October 2009

Thought, Reason, and Emotion Affect Consumer Decision / October 2009

Southwest Airlines is Riding the Blogosphere Like a Wild Horse! / October 2009

Don’t be Invisible Online - Learn which Websites Travelers Use to find Hotels and be Seen! / September 2009

What can a Blog do for my Hotel? The General Manager from Hawthorne Hotel Shares Insight! / September 2009

How to Edit, Export, & Upload Your Hotel Videos – Easy Technical Tips / September 2009

How Hotels Can Build Links by Leveraging their USP, PR, and Organic Growth; an O’Rourke Video Interview / September 2009

Will Google Caffeine Affect my Hotel SEO? / August 2009

Don’t Hide From Trip Advisor Reviews! / August 2009

5 Ways Hotels can Improve and Track Return on Investment from Twitter – Oh wait, there is no investment! / August 2009

Leverage Blended Search and Boost your Hotel’s Search Ranking Position / August 2009

How to Optimize Your Hotel Website for Natural Search / August 2009

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