I’d say that you’d have to be living under a rock not to have had an ad, person, or website ask you to engage with social media and review sites; though I suspect that in this day and age, most of us would still be able to get Wi-Fi if we found ourselves under a rock. Without using an outdated colloquialism, I’ll simply stress that because of the inescapable presence of social media and review sites in our lives and the impact they have on business, managing these sites is no longer an option, but a necessity, particularly for those of us working in the hospitality industry.
It’s not enough to simply participate. Companies must leverage social media monitoring technology that will not only gather online reviews from your own social media pages, but also gather your data from every social media outlet, review sites of significances and allow you to compare it to the data of like companies.
What to look for in a social media tool
First, look for systems and providers that are in tune with the specific needs of the hospitality industry. If your current third-party customer solutions provider doesn’t have a solid social media management system in place, don’t be tempted by a catch-all system that your current third-party partner recommends. Instead, seek to work with those who understand the kind of data you need, are able to assist you with benchmarking and coming to the right conclusions, and can provide you with reporting that they know will give you meaningful insights. Also, look for partners who understand how to incorporate data from your other surveys and reports and use it in conjunction with your social media data to give you a 360-degree view of the guest experience you’re providing.
Any good social media monitoring solution should allow you to: first, know in real or near-real time each time your property or properties are mentioned online on every major social media network; and second, compile competitor data and compare it to your own so that you can effectively analyze your brand in relation to competing brands.
My guess is that in the near future, more and more consulting firms and technology companies will crop up that will be dedicated to managing your complete online presence, including all social media marketing campaigns. Sooner rather than later, you may not need to employ a social media manager, but could rely instead on a third-party partner to manage all of your online responses and marketing campaigns on your behalf.
As you rely more heavily on a third party’s staff to respond to online reviews and guest comments on your behalf, make certain that the people who are speaking for you have the tools they need to resolve issues as well as represent your organization properly and in a way that is consistent with the level of service you strive to provide on site. These third- party representatives also need to be able to push or make the most out of your brand. Ideally, project managers from a third-party partner should be trained in your organization’s culture and operations so that they can go back to their staff and oversee your organization’s social media interactions with the same level of care that you would if you were working in their capacity.
Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, FourSquare, TripAdvisor, and Yelp show no signs of slowing down. Those of us in hospitality can’t afford to stand on the sidelines. Long-term success will only be had by those who take control of how their organization is being perceived by the world by managing their online presence now.
About: BILL FREEMAN,
What was your first job?
Farmhand on my grandfather’s farm in Westhope in the UK.
Who inspires you?
My wife, Pat Moore, who is incredibly smart. She genuinely has my back and is a constant support.
What are your hobbies?
Tennis, golf, reading biographies, and sometimes, work.
Words of Wisdom:
Master your present job before you move on to the next one. I also think it’s good to read biographies of successful people or people you admire.
What is one other job that you would like to try?
Talk show host. In the hospitality industry, I think Hamish Dodds, CEO and president of Hard Rock, has one of the most fun jobs. I’d like to try his job.
What is one goal that you would like to achieve in your life?
I’d like to enjoy life even more: write a book, play a game of tennis with Roger Federer, see Everest, boat around the world, travel in my own plane, drive a Formula 1 race car at least once, and own an Aston Martin.
Thomas Crown Affair (the Steve McQueen version) and Where Eagles Dare.
Bill Freeman is founder of FreemanGroup (www.freemangroupsolutions.com), a customer service training provider, with expertise in HR and leadership training, that serves premier hospitality and tourism organizations around the world.