The time that an organisation was the main influencer of a conversation and that conversations were mainly between organisation and consumer are over. Now-a-days consumers have easy access to sharing information creating conversations between customers as well. Therefor one of the basic aspects of a conversation has become more important for organisations namely; listening. Why listening is so important and different approaches can be found in the blog ‘Social listening is the first step of digital arena success for the hotel industy’ by Noortje Matos Fernandes.
Fortunately, technique is developing rapidly and several tools have been developed that make listening easier (think of Hootsuite). These tools tell you what is being said and where the conversation is taking place. Leaving more time open for organisations to engage in the conversation.
However, there are some attention point when it comes to engaging in the conversation.
- Be transparent: Indicate who you are (use real names, even the name of the web care agent), inform relevantly without pushing, provide clear information or feedback. It is an activity that influences the general reputation and trust, but can also be aimed at helping individual customers (often when they fail to get through by using more traditional channels) (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)
- Be authentic and honest: Staying true to the brand values will create a consistency and contributes to the trustworthiness. Being honest is a part of this and also creates more transparency.
- React on time: Griffith wrote “A study by Lithium Technologies found that 53 per cent of people expect a brand to respond to tweets within an hour. Unfortunately, recent research by Brand Watch found that only 11.2 per cent of brands respond to questions within 60 minutes, so there is work to be done.”
- Contribute with factual information: By doing this you will stay out of the emotional discussions, but influence the opinion, the attitude and the nature of conversations in which people engage. (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)
- Adapt tone of voice: when appropriate use humour it shows a different side that only the business approach. However also know when to undertake serious action. Is a conversation going in an unpleased direction do not be afraid to take it private or withdraw instead of engaging in the negativity.
Once these attention point are clear we can look at where you can use social media for your hotel in a very practical approach.
Development phase: During the development phase social media can be used for co-creation. How co-creation works look at this blog: ‘Co-creating in the hotel industry, the principles and a real-life case on how to approach it.’ You can use social media in the process by opening a discussion forum on social media or even more simple by creating a voting system with the ‘like’ button on Facebook.
Orientation and selection phase in the buying process: During this phase it is extremely important that you are at the top of the mind of customers. For example, when your hotel is located in London you want someone to directly think about booking a room with you when needing a room in London. Social media can help you with this. An example is described in the blog of Shira Lazar called ‘Hotels that rock at social media’. Here she explains that when she couldn’t find a reasonably-priced hotel the messaged an hotel that she was already following on Twitter. The right respond let her to booking a room. (Lazar, 2011)
The after sale phase: Customers can also help each other after the transaction of a product or service has been completed. They can share experiences and guide other customers to the best supplier, but they can also provide each other with help and support in the resolution of questions and trouble-shooting (Peelen & Beltman, 2013). For the hotel industry the sharing of the experiences and guiding each other is mainly be done by writing reviews. These reviews can mostly be found on review and booking sites. It is important that these reviews are not forgotten in the conversation as they can directly lead to positive or negative positioning of your organisation.
However again, social listening should always be the first step in engaging in the social arena. Without knowing what is going on it will be impossible to engage in a conversation. To be more successful in engaging in the conversation do not forgot the attention points, these count for every phase.
Griffith, G. (2015, September 8). Making social media a friend – not enemy. Retrieved from Raconteur: http://raconteur.net/business/making-social-media-a-friend-not-enemy
Lazar, S. (2011, February). Hotels That Rock At Social Media. Retrieved from Entrepeneur: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/220645
Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer relationship management. Pearson Education Limited.