Advice for Hotel Owners About Social Media

I got a lot of good advice for hotel owners today, in a meeting of travel bloggers and tweeters. The question was posed, ‘who are some great examples of companies who ‘get’ social media in 2009?

Elliot Ng, a founder of the large content site, brought up a few non-travel examples, like the 2008 Obama campaign. It wasn’t that it was new, it was that the scale was unprecedented. So many people involved, and a recent Facebook poll got more than 3 million people saying they voted for and still support President Obama.

Which travel companies, we were asked, really get it? JetBlue and Southwest got props for their clever Twitter presence, covering each and every complaint quickly and efficiently. But Continental looks like a lumbering stupid gorilla. They’ve been on Twitter for months yet have only posted 288 times…and what they do post on the Twitter include photos of the CEO posing in front of a plane, instead of relevant and topical information.

Another blogger complained about PR firms sending him press releases without ever bothering to visit his website, so there is no fit…nobody wants to get releases that are irrelevant, do they?

Wendy Perrin, Conde Nast’s consumer news editor, suggested that hotels need to concentrate more on the destinations where they are located, and not just on the hotel’s amenities and perks. People are going to a place, not just to a hotel, so they would be better off bragging about the great South Florida weather or the proximity to Wrigley Field rather than how soft and plump their pillows are.

Another consensus: hotels and resorts should always answer negative reviews, and respond quickly to anyone who has a beef. Another tip: Hotels should suggest to guests who are happy with their stay to post a positive review. Hey, no harm in asking!

Finally, Ng suggests a really strong social media strategy. Try to develop 1000 devout followers who will be your ‘fan boys.’ He cited Apple as one company that withstands any online assault because their fans are rabid…they respond quickly and forcefully. Develop your own army by building fanatic fanboys who will do the same for you.