I have followed the hotel industry for about 2 decades now, and I strongly believe that the industry’s relation with an increasingly digitized world is the biggest game changer for the future. Social media has become inevitable for reaching out to wider audiences, but what is more important for brands is to reimagine its services for the new age consumers. No other business needs projection of a human face more than a hotel, from the time a guest checks-in, till he signs off. For generations, hotels have tried to create a personification of their ethos through many ways – branding, logo, monogrammed amenities, and individualistic advertising – all in an attempt to stand out and be picked by a discerning customer. I am amazed to see the varied ways in which hotels can increase this reach through human engagement on social networks. Moreover a lack of such a “people first” strategy in social media can actually rebound and pull your brand down swiftly.
Let’s see how your hotel can build a human brand using social media.
Personification: How does a brand create its unique personality that is different from the crowd? I urge you to regard brands as living beings that breathe, feed, age and die during its life cycle. This helps in creating every hotel’s persona. Every hotel has its own story to tell – be it relating to its conceptualisation, heritage, history and much more, so weaving that in your brand message is the first step to get your guest curious. You can position the hotel’s marketing campaigns in social media with human traits which are likeable, modest and responsive.
Nurturing communication like humans: Humanising your brand should not be limited to a one time exercise of acquiring the first-time customer, instead try to make it into a habit and it will go a long way in retaining customers and earning loyalty. Try to eliminate any physical barrier that could come in the way of relationship with your guest online.
I always tell all my clients – evocative emotions are necessary for social media. Your message could be sentimental, aspirational or funny, but do try to nail at least one end of the spectrum in all content. Simple, boring content would be easily ignored. Sharing customer reviews and tagging the customer with pictures can be very well received by prospective customers because you are putting a human face to your brand.
Make your content lively: How can you make your content lively and interactive? The best way is to include pictures and links that can help guests connect with your hotel employees instantly. For instance, many companies prefers to give links to the Twitter team bio page, with each team member’s photo, personal twitter account, and why they love that brand. Today things have gone past corporate logo or advertising with a generic or objective voice. The Design Management Institute Study found over a 10-year period from 2004 to 2014, companies that focused on innovating through “human-centred design” grew at a rate more than two times greater than others.
Solutions through social media: Knowing your guests pain-points can help you address their issues on social channels leading to positive feedback from guests. You should be able to solve their issues tactfully on social media as you do when facing the guest physically. Also, make the endeavour of never stopping to pleasantly surprise guests. You can enrich experience of guests by offering special packages, and never leave any opportunity to tap on those moments on social media. You may also ask for guest’s Twitter handle at check-in, or during the booking process that could help you tweet the consumer and keep him informed from the time he checks-in and throughout the stay till departure.
It’s crucial to know the fine line between customer service and annoyance. However, tweeting with consumers can display the hotel’s loyalty with guests.
I’m not surprised to see more and more hotels offering iPads, touch screens, e-menus, property tours via internet, gadgets in hotel rooms, but I urge you to remember that no matter how much technology pervades our lives no one can replace human interactions which create emotions. So the ideal future for any hotel would be a marriage of technology and personalised interaction- a match truly made in heaven!
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