“Community building” is one of those phrases thrown around so frequently in social media strategy sessions that it’s easy to grow sick of hearing it used so often without an explanation on why it is important, and the steps involved in building an online community.
Brands such as the Roger Smith Hotel, Ace Hotels, and citizenM hotels have long credited their focus on community building as the reason for the huge numbers of die-hard fans each has around the world. Jason Potter and Vanessa Coleiro at Corinthia Hotels shared in this article the specific steps they took in building a community at Corinthia Hotels that ended up resulting in Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff showcasing their work as an example for executives everywhere to follow.
But conversations I had this week with more people behind some of the Internet’s most vibrant hotel-hosted, travel-themed communities have confirmed my belief that this may be the single most important social media objective for hotels and travel companies today.
Josh Pelz, Chief Digital Strategist at the Gansevoort Hotel Group opened the EyeForTravel conference with a keynote talking about how he routinely passes along requests for advice and opinion about the Gansevoort back to his Twitter and Facebook audience. By retweeting a question, his fans will often reply to the person asking about the hotel – and say how much they enjoy it. This is tremendously powerful as a sales tool – having others sing their praises. And it also plays a role in service, extending their reach to sites where they may not be actively participating.
“We can’t always be there when someone has a problem. We’re not everywhere. But our community often comes to bat for us. If someone says they can’t get in touch with the Gansevoort, we often have other members of our community saying ‘e-mail Josh – here’s his address.’ It’s amazing to watch this.”
What causes this level of loyalty in an online community?