The hotel industry has plenty of faith in the social media world – and no reservations about using it to gain reservations. But, it’s struggling to take control of the medium. A survey by Wine and Hospitality Network indicates that most respondents (in the business) spend only two hours a week managing their Facebook fan pages – with 14.2 percent having no such page to manage. Forty-two percent don’t use Twitter, and 25 percent tweet for less than an hour a week (they should reach out to @Colonnade for tips).
But, it isn’t for lack of trying. The internet is littered with the corpses of abandoned social media marketing initiatives, inside the travel industry and out. Notes online marketing publication ClickZ:
“Before hoteliers even consider a social media initiative, they should be aware that social media is a very engaged, hands-on marketing format. The social networks are a graveyard of abandoned hotel profiles and fan pages by hoteliers who did not realize the complexity of social marketing,” said Margaret Mastrogiacomo, social media specialist with Hospitality eBusiness Strategies, a strategic services and design firm.
Several properties are getting in on the action, committing resources and genuinely seeking returns. New York’s Roger Smith Hotel has made a clear social media play, according to ClickZ, by adopting Revinate, a tool to facilitate active social media management specifically for the hospitality business. Kimpton has adopted this platform as well.
The focus on hotels pays off for the Roger Smith’s Simpson, who used to spend hours using search and setting up news alerts on competitors. While Revinate doesn’t include some of the hot new social media startups he keeps an eye on, like Bizzy and Pegshot, he says it covers the major sites, especially TripAdvisor, the most important. The ability to compare his hotel’s buzz with competitors is also unique. “It’s one thing to do it manually for your own establishment, but for me to do that for surrounding hotels or for what other people we have an interest in are doing, that becomes more laborious.”
So, what does this mean for the average traveler? Your opportunities to engage with the hotels you’ll call home, if only temporarily, are set to increase. Think beyond deals (though they are important) to every other reason you’d contact and open dialogue with a hotel. The possibilities are immense, and hotels, a bit slow to move in social media, appear to be on the brink.