Social Media & Hotels: Top 5 Blunders

 Social media together with the hospitality industry CAN make a  great pair. Too bad very few hotels actually know   how to  make that happen. Instead, the hotels’ social media   strategies are full of mistakes, which results in countless number of missed opportunities… Here are the top 5 mistakes that most hotels’ social media accounts contain: 

  #1: No proper signage at the property

 Many hotels that have social media presence either hide it in an offline   world on purpose or do so unintentionally. The hotel may have a Twitter and Facebook account, yet when you are staying at the hotel, you would never know. Does it make any sense? No, but it often is the case. Having signs at the front desk, on the flyers, newsletters, feedback cards, receipts etc. would go a long way when it comes to encouraging the existing customers to join the hotels’ social media world. Without the signs, the hotels make the customers dig deep, which is something very few will do.

                                                                          #2: Doubtful or non-existing widgets on the hotel’s website

 Many hotels with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc. accounts don’t link them properly to their website. The widgets (small icons) are either not there or hard to notice. Check out Four Seasons Hotel in Prague [http://www.fourseasons.com/prague/] – guess for larger font you have to pay extra 😉 Even worse, some hotels don’t even link their social media accounts to the website at all. Talking about hindering your social media strategy…

 #3: Let’s copy all other marketing materials

 When you look at Four Seasons (http://twitter.com/fourseasons) for example, all you see are the stiff updates made out of everything you can learn from the website or printed marketing materials. Whoever runs this account doesn’t realize what my Twitter friend, @iconic88, once tweeted: “The power of Twitter is in your sharing, not your selling.” The social media channels are unlike any other marketing channels and have their distinctive advantages, like first-hand contact with existing & potential customers, so copying other marketing messages should be a secondary factor.

                                                                                                      #4: Forgetting all the fun

 Social media is all about having fun and interacting with others, regardless of whether the Twitter account represents the individual or the company. However, most hotels on Twitter tend to put on a serious business face and tweet stiff messages that don’t spark any interest. Look at Soho Grand Hotel (http://twitter.com/sohograndhotel) – these tweets make me want to go back to sleep. There is no interaction, no retweets, just a boring monologue. Exception? Absolutely not.  

#5: Collecting dust

    For some strange reason, those who handle social media accounts of the hotels  tend to think that setting up an account is enough to get results. Big  mistake.   Regular updates are important. Going into the account at least once every other day is a must for all hotel social media marketers. Hear it, Lancaster Arts Hotel(http://twitter.com/ARTSHOTEL)?

There are many more to cover, but these are the most famous ones I encounter in my line of business. You can apply these principles on other businesses on Twitter, not just hotels, of course. Bottom line – social media is about socializing, no matter what kind of account you are running.

Feel free to connect with me!

www.twitter.com/onlinefantastic

www.facebook.com/travelfantastic

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About Lucie
I am curious and passionate about all things social and pretty much anything else I put my mind into.

59 Responses to Social Media & Hotels: Top 5 Blunders

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  3. Geoffrey Wu says:

    Hi there,

    Very good article this is – what do you think of this account http://www.twitter.com/MO_HKG – do you think they are doing a good job in maintaining it?

    Geoff

    • Hi Geoffrey,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog & for your great feedback. Since I’ve run several accounts for luxury hotels, you are coming to the right person 😉 So I looked at the Twitter account you asked me to look at. I like the fact that there is quite a bit of interaction going on between the audience and the hotel. The tweets are dynamic – lots of questions, which encourage people to react. One thing I would want to know, though, is how old is the account? I see the account has has 528 tweets, but only 808 followers. Also, have you ever gotten any business b/c of your Twitter or Facebook account? I see many “customer service” responses, very few links. Also, more retweets on topics like travel & local events or perhaps interesting facts about the hotel and staff generally produce greater results. Let me know if I can help any further!
      Lucie

      Feel free to connect with me on FB: http://www.facebook.com/travelfantastic

      • Geoffrey Wu says:

        Hi there

        Tx for your reply and I have further questions for you on this subject based on your expertise in this field:

        A) What is a good way to increase the number of followers?

        B) Are you saying that the account has too little tweets? Is there a general rule to how much you should tweet and RT per day?

        C) What sort of tweets should a hotel group RT at?

        D) What sort of URL links should a hotel group post aside from links to it’s website?

        Will be good if you can drop me an email at wugsc10@gmail.com so that we can chat further. Great post btw.

        Tx
        Geoff

      • Hi Geoffrey,
        I just sent you an e-mail discussing the issues you were asking me about. Thanks for reaching out!

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  5. Katie White says:

    Hi Lucie:

    Additional thoughts on not doing it correctly:
    1. Not maximizing the options – putting the RSS feed from your blog into FaceBook for example
    2. Not tracking the results
    3. Not properly branding the channels – a plain twitter background for example
    4. Not utilizing all social channels: video sharing, photo sharing, review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor…, news/pr sites, social bookmarking.

    It is enough at times for people to have a Twitter and FaceBook set up at all let alone tackle the full social networking world.

    While it is short, we do have more information here about . Good post, I love how you used examples.

    Take Care,

    Katie

    • Hi Katie!
      Those are very valid points – thank you!! I am sure we could add a lot to this list, but I will keep that for another time. Stay in touch – we would be a great brainstorming team 😉

      • mpulfr says:

        I definitely think it’s important, especially when pitching social media initiatives, to focus on the low hanging fruit and move on to further platforms once the client is ready. Clear results are important for continued business, and choosing the appropriate initial channels and content (link listing, deals and offers, or original content), and then making sure that they are distributed across social media platforms. A big pitfall I see is mentioned in your post, missing crosslinks with other web presences like the own website and bookmarking sites..

      • Thanks for putting your 5 cents in. You sure know what I am talking about and understand your stuff. Right about the missing crosslinks. Hopefully it is going to change as more and more hotels get positive results from social media.

  6. Paul White says:

    What a great post. In my opinion what hotels need to sell through the social networks is the social side of their business. Local events, food, the area. If someone finds out about an event through you then they will stay with you.
    Here’s my 10 dos and 10 don’t’s of social media for bed and breakfasts

    http://bedandbreakfastclub.co.uk/10-dos-and-10-donts-of-social-networking-for

    • Hi Paul,
      Glad you liked my post. I fully agree with you – I don’t get why most hotels don’t get that basic principle. Need more people in the social media world who get it. Your link didn’t paste right btw. 😦

  7. Mara Sultan says:

    Thank you for your recent mention in your blog about blunders. We take our social media very seriously and find it to be a valuable asset. It is important for people using social media to make sure their links are working when you connect your twitter and facebook accounts. Although our facebook friend page was updated on July 29, the Fan page was not. Thank you so much for the heads up!

    • Hi Mara,
      I appreciate the response. It is a great move on your side to watch the online community and responding. I am glad you understand that my blog post is not to criticize you but rather to give you an insight on what can be improved. There is a lot of potential in social media marketing in hospitality industry and I would love for all the hotels, including yours, to take a better advantage of it. Facebook friend page? I am not sure what you mean – group page perhaps? The fan page is what you want to focus on on Facebook btw. When it comes to Twitter, I’d highly encourage you to look into it more. Twitter can drive amazing traffic to your website / blog and it is easier for the companies to reach out to the potential customers than Facebook is. Would be happy to discuss further via e-mail: lalinkaga@hotmail.com! Thanks once again for reaching out – shows a high level of professionalism.

  8. Resideo.com says:

    We’re maintaining the (unofficial) “Hotels On Twitter” list – http://resideohotels.blogspot.com/2009/07/hotels-using-twitter.html – so we see some good & some bad…

    The ‘problem’ we see the most? Hotels that don’t put their actual location (city, state) in their Twitter profile! They may know where they are, but most folks don’t. It’s disturbing to see so many hotels overlook that simple section when they set up their Twitter account.

    • Oh wow, welcome to my blog, Resideo. We interact on Twitter more often than you actually know 😉 Thanks for taking the time to read my post and responding. Appreciate it a lot. I love your hotel list, btw. Great job. Thanks for sharing your insight – very good point. I got to remember that and include it in next part of this topic (of course will give you credit for that if that happens!) 😉

      • Resideo.com says:

        We’ve been on Twitter for almost 2 years now, and really find it’s an exciting & amazing place for hotels (and OTAs like us to be). It’s extremely easy to reach out to folks and provide support & service.

        For instance, we post travel info (hotel news & info, etc.) as well as deals & discounts. Not only that, but we actively watch for folks who ask for help in finding & booking hotels and provide assistance.

        We started the “Hotels On Twitter” list as a way to make it easy for folks to find their favorite hotels and to help hotels get noticed, so it works to everyone’s favor.

        We’d be honored to be referenced — and we’d also be happy to be of any further assistance (feel free to email us direct: info@resideo.com).

        🙂

      • I know of you list very well, as many of the hotels I work with are on the list 😉 I think you guys are great!

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  10. Melissa Moss says:

    Great article! I agree there are a ton of poorly maintained sites out there. We do our best to provide information, promotions, and fun things to do in our amazing city.

    http://www.fourpointschicago.com
    @4PointsChicago
    http://www.facebook.com/fourpointschicagodowntownmagnificentmile

    Your thoughts are appreciated!

    melissamoss@fourpointschicago.com

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  12. Aaron says:

    Hi Lucie,

    I would have to agree with #1 and #2 to be the biggest mistakes the most social media hotels are doing. Most probably they are still new and don’t really know how to promote their social media brand, Perhaps they should mark their twitter account on they keys or mark them on the paper when they hand over the hotel keys to their customers, lets brainstorm for ideas! 🙂

    I actually did a case study on what four seasons hotel was doing on my blog before, I am not sure if you read it but I think four seasons are doing an amazing job, they are adapting well despite the copying materials, they are also doing and giving away promotions using social media especially on their twitter account and helping people to solve their problems and listening what people are talking about them. If you post a tweet mentioning “four seasons hotel” they will be reading it 🙂 They listen to every feedback on twitter. How cool is that?

    Great blog post, continue writing! 🙂

    Cheers
    Aaron

    • Hi Aaron,
      I appreciate the Twitter master reading & responding to my blog post! Thank you!! Great idea on putting it on keys – however, knowing how it works, most are really shy about putting it anywhere where it would be too visible. It is funny, but the hotels (and other businesses) are really afraid of social media. That is why all this hiding, but even negative feedback can be handled. I believe the hotels hiding their social media presence are not doing a smart thing. When it comes to Four Seasons, I did read your post actually (excellent as always). I know that Four Seasons uses many Twitter accounts depending on the city where it is based out of and some are better and some are worse. However, the account I was mentioning here – the HQ one when you look at it has the issues that I mentioned. When you look over their tweets, there is very little interaction – if that was to be a conversation, it would really put the other side to sleep. It is great that they monitor the brand and respond, but nevertheless there is still space for improvement, which is what I tried to point out. 😉
      Appreciate your input though and you know that anytime you put your 5 cents in, I am thrilled! 😉
      xoxo my friend

    • Maria says:

      Hi Aaron,

      Could you please send me a link about your case study on four seasons

      Many thanks

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  15. Gaby Feile says:

    I am so glad I found this post. It is a great summary of basic principles that hotels and other business should use if they want to be authentic and successful with their social media activities.

    How great of you to evaluate individual accounts upon request of your readers. This is what social media is all about.

    Will definitely share your post with my followers.

    Cheers,
    Gaby

    • Hi Gaby,
      Thank you very much for the kind words. I do my best to help out to those who reach out to me – appreciate you noticing. Thanks for sharing my post as well! Have a wonderful day!

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  17. Teresa Sousa says:

    Hi Lucie,

    Great Post!

    I believe that some of the issues you mentioned are based on lack of experience, or what to do with social media. It’s been hard for hotels to get on board on this, what is quite surprisingly once hospitality is all about talking with all your guests with special attention to your unhappy guests.

    Just want to share with you some of my thoughts regarding #2 , most of the hotels don’t feel comfortable of having their newbie accounts highlighted in the website, but plan to make this transition as soon as they feel they have more fans or followers. I have spotted also many confidence issues (in all org levels inside the hotels) regarding if they are targeting the right audience (special when we go up to the luxury segment).

    They are not jumping into it as first adopters but some are getting there.

    Rgds
    Teresa

    • Hi Teresa,
      I agree lack of experience is the issue here, but even if you do have social media savyy team, the campaign gets many breaks from the management. I see that being a big problem here as well. The management at the hotel (especially if it is a chain) tends to be conservative and is used to traditional way of marketing which, of course, is completely different from social media marketing.
      True, as hotels get better presence on social media sites, they are more willing to link to the website, but not always the came as I have come to experience.
      With the target audience, you are right on the spot, which actually gives me an idea for a new blog post – thank you for bringing this up! I work mostly with luxury hotels and know that target audience is something that comes up very often; however, there are ways to target this (or other) segment, so the concern is really not that valid. As far as first adopters, I say all hospitality should be on board – all your clients, existing or potential, are there. Everybody travels, so everybody needs a hotel. Knowing that most people spend more time on Facebook than Google, it is important for the companies to capitalize on this. One important point that comes to mind, today social media presence for the hotels is their new website in a way. More and more people choose to look the brands up on social media and follow it more than going on straight to the website, that’s why it is soo important to have a great social media presence – after all, it is the new face of the company.

  18. Ruth W says:

    Thanks so much for such an informative and insightful post.
    I’ve been trying to highlight to management that proper signage is incredibly necessary to increase our valuable followers and interractions.
    Would love your comments, baring in mind that our acount is relatively new and we are putting together a blog as we speak.
    Must add, incredibly impressed how you have responded in depth to all the comments posted and your deep insights are very well received,
    thanks

    • Ruth,
      I am with you on this one. Signage, signage, signage. Interesting that most hotels don’t mind putting tripadvisor all over the place, but when it comes to FB & Twitter, they will rather hide it. I love the fact that your website has the logos (though could be bigger) and has the presence on various social media sites. Great job on this. Looked at your Twitter, nice job interacting, lively tweets, hashtags in place – you are on your way. Also the bio shows that you are there to help, not to sell. Like that. You say the account is fairly new – which means about how old? This is always important to determine the success of the Twitter account. Also, your Facebook is a great shape. I see many updates that are lively and not targeted on selling to people but rather providing value. People interact with you back, which is also a great sign. Overall, I miust say that whoever manages your social media presence is doing a great job. Could use a little help on Twitter, but that’s about it. Nice!

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  22. Helena says:

    Great article. I was wondering if you could share some examples of hotels that are doing it right? My facebook fan page is doing well, but my twitter is not. I guess I’m just not sure what to do on twitter. It would help to have some examples of hotels doing it right so I could see what I should be doing.
    Thanks so much!
    Helena

  23. It’s stunning to me how many hotels, and hotel/internet marketing groups claim they have social media covered, and all it is are RSS feeds and zero lack of interaction. Attention is equity, so engaging people to be attentive is what will eventually drive revenue in a manner of different ways.

    As for who is doing it “right” or “wrong”, I note the disparate brands we have in our portfolio
    http://www.waterfordhi.com/affiliated_hotels.html

    Some midrange, no F&B, biz properties are very, VERY good at driving incredibly amounts of revenue with yelp and tripadvisor responses, but there is ZERO real interaction on twitter or Facebook.

    Some value proposition heavy hotels – LEED Gold, Historic, National Park, Eco-boutique, etc have POWERFUL twitter accounts, as well as some with decent legitimate FB interaction…. (if you know me, I have been quoted as not being totally convinced FB is worthwhile at all – I include MATH and DATA – don’t worry: http://www.hotelmarketingstrategies.com/facebook-fanbase-for-big-brands/)

    while one of my historic properties sees little on twitter, more on Facebook, and is hard to connect in general because of its location, etc.

    IE:

    It is going to be highly tailored to each individual hotel, remembering the Pareto 80/20 principle. If twitter works for some, but not for you…. don’t try to make it work. If Yelp and Tripadvisor isn’t happening, focus somewhere else.

    The whole point is that you need to go where your consumers are. It’s going to be different for every brand, segment, etc. There isn’t a simple answer. Anyone that says there is, is selling you something.

    • Hey there,
      Thanks for taking so much time to connect. I fully agree that most hotels are totally not on the top of the social media; on the opposite, most are completely missing the point. I agree with you that each hotel needs tailored social media campaign, since each has very different target market. However, I disagree with the statement that if Twitter doesn’t work for you, go somewhere else. Most of the times, it won’t work not because of the tool, but because not knowing how to use the tool.

  24. flightsrhodes says:

    ahhhhhh very good, bookmarked 🙂 keep it up, JusyKassy. http://www.flightsrhodes.org

  25. As a weekly business traveler and avid tweeter, I’d love to know the twitter id’s of the hotels I stay at and the restaurants I eat at. I often have great things to say and want to share the news, but do not know the twitter id’s of most businesses.

    I follow many hotels and watch for their specials and travel tips, and forward some of their info to my readers at http://www.smartwomentravelers.com.

    • Hi Carol,
      Thank you for your input. It is VERY IMPORTANT that hotels & restaurants realize that putting their FB & Twitter signage is not something to be ashamed of or afraid of, but to be proud of. It says – we care! We want to connect with you! Shame that most hotels are too afraid of social media to display it the way they should.

  26. Wow, ok I will say it again….WOW! Despite the fact that you are preaching to the choir, i mean I COMPLETELY agree with this post, very well and succinctly put. Now if there was just a way to get the hotels to READ and COMPREHEND this message. Being “in the field” I know it can be like pulling teeth, but this post is a great little resource to refer to, to quickly explain the importance of doing it right! I will sing this one to the mountains, thanks!

    • Hi James,
      I hope that this post at least pointed some of the hotels to the right direction. I will keep writing until all hotels will get social media right ;-)) I appreciate your kind words very much. Stay in touch & thanks for connecting on Facebook too!

  27. Think it need to blog at my subscribers about this post! Thanks Again!

  28. Ashis Dutta says:

    Very helpful article.

    What would be good ways to make the wider section of the hospitality community take more serious view of the on-line prospects?

    My field is in designing experience (from User Experience – UX) for the hospitality industry, and would love to exchange notes and ideas. ashisdutta@designing-experience.com

    Also, here’s a link to my article on – Are You Managing Your Conversational Capital? – in 4Hoteliers.com: http://www.4hoteliers.com/4hots_fshw.php?mwi=5323

  29. Sjkato says:

    Very nice article! it is something you seldom see in many hotels, though you get to see most of their other aspects. Perhaps they are just afraid of having customers complain about the services? Still, it is a shame that many hotels dont have a good social media standpoint.
    This would be very good for hotels to read, but I doubt they ever will. It is a shame there.

    • Thank you very much for your kind feedback. Certainly the fear of the negative response on social media is one of the main causes that the hotels “hide” their existence on social media. Be sure that some of the hotels did read this blog post (some commented as well), but more than read is whether they really took the advice 😉

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  32. bobolink says:

    you are so right about that in a fact It is VERY IMPORTANT that hotels & restaurants realize that putting their FB & Twitter signage is not something to be ashamed of or afraid of, but to be proud of. check this social media strategies for hotels
    http://bobolink.co/blog/?p=765

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