With more than 1,500 registered for our latest ReviewPro webinar, All about Twitter, Just for Hotels, it’s clear that Twitter is on the radar for hotels – but many are seeking guidance. To help, we’re here to give you answers to some of the most common questions sent in by attendees.
For tips on how to build a community, write promotional tweets, manage complaints and drive ROI, check out Nine Best Practices for Hotels on Twitter.
Is Twitter essential for hotels?
I wouldn’t say Twitter is essential. But given its popularity among travelers, it’s getting increasingly difficult to ignore. Twitter has emerged as an important customer service channel, where travelers seek trip information and advice, make inquiries with hotels and share impressions and experiences. If you’re not listening and engaging, you’re missing out on opportunities.
Most of the hotel staff I interviewed for the webinar agreed, saying they use Twitter above all to monitor and respond to guest inquiries and mentions of their hotel, to resolve issues, and to connect with travelers before, during and after trips.
Twitter can also be a valuable resource for staying current on industry trends, news and competitor activity as well as for connecting with the media, local businesses, meeting planners and industry partners.
How much time should I spend on Twitter per week?
The amount of time you dedicate will depend on how much feedback your hotel receives, how active you want to be and your available resources. Twitter is a free tool, so the only initial investment is time. But time is valuable, so it’s important to be disciplined and focused. Otherwise you find yourself logging on to quickly check your feed—and suddenly it’s three days later.
It’s a good practice to check your feed at least twice a day, near the start and end of your day. You won’t have time to catch everyone’s tweets, so use a management tool like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to create feeds by theme or importance like “Key Contacts” or “Clients and Prospects”.
Tweet as often as you have something interesting and relevant to share. If you tweet less than a few times a week, you may get lost in the crowd. If you tweet more than a few times an hour, you risk losing followers by being too chatty.
Even if you don’t want to send tweets, you can set Twitter up as a listening tool to receive email alerts of mentions of your hotel. Or use ReviewPro to track mentions across all social media channels.
Can you explain what hashtags are and how best to use them?
A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by the number sign that indicates a specific topic the tweet is about, like #TwitterForHotels. Hashtags are helpful because they allow users to search and organize content by theme.
You can create a hashtag for your property, for a campaign or tagline, or for a product, service or event. Pick one or two brand hashtags, search them to ensure they’re not being used already, and use them consistently across social media channels. Set up a dedicated feed to track activity.
Using popular and trending hashtags in relevant tweets will help you reach a larger audience and build your following. For example, if you’re sharing the chef’s turkey recipe, you could use the hashtag #thanksgiving.
For more info about hashtags, check out this Social Media Examiner article.
I feel like my tweets are being ignored
You’re not alone! If your messages aren’t getting retweeted, replied to, favorited or clicked through, you’re probably not being engaging enough. This might be related to how many followers you have, in which case you should spend time focusing on growing your following with people who are interested in your hotel or destination.
Or it may be related to the quality of your tweets. People engage with tweets that are interesting, apropos, insightful, helpful, rewarding and entertaining. Keep tweets brief and uncluttered, and try asking questions instead of always broadcasting information.
As a brand, you should avoid sarcasm as it can be misinterpreted. And never say something provocative or potentially offensive just to get attention—that’s not the type of attention you want.
If you want people to act on your tweet, ask them, and be clear about what you want them to do. This can be as simple as saying, “Please retweet”, “Click here”, “Book now”, “Enter today” or “Check this out.” In your profile, give a reason for people to follow you, such as “Follow us for local tips, exclusive offers and irresistible giveaways.”
Finally, be patient. Building and engaging a community on Twitter takes time.
How can I use Twitter to promote an event at my hotel?
If it’s a client event and your hotel is simply hosting, work with organizers to see how you can support their efforts. If it’s your own event, you have more flexibility. Create a hashtag, use it in messaging across social media channels, and make sure people know about it and use it, especially fellow employees, event organizers and sponsors.
Consider advertising the event hashtag on your website, in email signatures and on other social networks and offering an incentive for using it. Create signage during the event to invite people to introduce themselves using the hashtag. After the event, post photos and highlights.
Associating your hotel with a local event such as a sports game or a concert can be a way to attract business. Find the event hashtag and use it in select tweets to create excitement or to add value, such as a special rate code for attendees or pre-event dinner special. As always, be respectful about using other brand names to self-promote.
Should Twitter accounts be corporate or personal?
Typically people like to interact with other people rather than faceless brands. But the problem with using a personal profile to represent a brand on Twitter is if the person leaves he or she may take all followers with them.
In my opinion, the official brand feed should be under the company’s name, not an employee’s. Encourage employees to support the company feed by following it and sharing messages from their personal profiles.
Keep in mind that people like to know who’s behind the brand. Consider adding your name to the company profile, such as “Tweets by Meghan S.” Also, add your name to select tweets, especially those related to customer service.
Should a chain with multiple hotels have one Twitter account or one per hotel?
I posed this question to Marco Fanton, Director of Social Media at Meliá Hotels International, which operates more than 350 hotels in 35 countries. “It depends on the chain’s structure,” Fanton told me. Ideally each hotel will have its own account because “real-time, mobile interaction happens locally,” he said. “It doesn’t make any sense to have a community manager in a different location and time zone trying to engage in a local conversation.”
“Staff need to be involved in conversations as part of service,” he said. The brand should support the efforts of individual hotels and monitor the feed to ensure messaging is on-brand. Fanton also stressed the importance of training staff to be effective and appropriate.
Loews Hotels and Resorts recently centralized its Twitter accounts, and now operates only one corporate brand account. “The streamlining of Twitter has definitely propelled positive momentum for our overall engagement and following growth metrics,” Piper Stevens, Director of Social Media, told me. To keep individual properties engaged, each has its own hashtag. Properties have “Social Leads” who have direct access to post tweets, which Stevens monitors.
Speaking of Loews, the company now accepts room bookings, or at least booking inquiries, on Twitter using the hashtag #BookLoews. Check out this article on USAToday.com for details.
How can we cover Twitter 24/7?
Many hotels are struggling with this question. Do guests expect you to monitor and respond on Twitter 24 hours a day? Expectations will vary according to the caliber of hotel. But as social media emerges as a guest service channel that is as important as the telephone and email, hotels will have to figure out how to provide a comparable level of service.
As a former general manager, I have to wonder why, if an employee is entrusted to run a hotel overnight, he or she can’t be trained and empowered to monitor social media accounts too? They can act on any urgent issues and inquiries and leave the rest for management to follow up on in the morning. To me, this seems to be an inevitable step for truly service-oriented hotels.
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