Open Letter To The Hospitality Industry: Don't Be Stupid

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I recently did an unscientific test where I attempted to contact many different hotels on Twitter, from privately held resorts, to casino hotels, to the major chains. The casino hotels, for fairly obvious reasons, were actually pretty responsive. The rest however? I received one response from one hotel, 24 hours later, that’s it. I then tried a dozen restaurants, half of them were spewing promotional information yet had never responded to anyone….ever. In a industry sector where responsiveness is key, the lackadaisical approach being taken to mediums like Twitter is puzzling to say the least. Here is my open letter:


Dear Unresponsive, I’d like to apologize for my internet marketing colleagues behavior. It’s not your fault. I know you spent your obligatory ten minutes looking up what this whole “social media” thing is, and I appreciate it. I also realize that all of the information you found was about “Marketing”. The discussions of “dialogs”, “engaging with the community”, “ROI”, etc. were all interesting I’m sure but I realize they were also kind of scary. You are in the hospitality industry after all, an industry which is well known for its slim margins and skimping on behind the scenes staff. So while all of that info was interesting, we understand why you might have found it a little overwhelming. No money to do anything, no extra hands to help engage. It must seem a steep hill to climb to try and get management to sign off on that, or more likely you *are* the management. Sure, that guy down the street is pulling a few more folks into his restaurant or hotel by constantly engaging, but he’s personable and loves doing it anyway. No way is he getting enough business to account for all the time he is spending. You on the other hand are struggling just to get through every day and the last thing you want to do when you get home is fire up the computer. You could do like a lot of your industry colleagues and setup a scheduling tool to automate pushing your marketing messages out to the social world. That would save you from having to get on that computer at least, and the price is certainly right. I would like to point out though that the accounts you setup on Facebook and Twitter are still there even though you aren’t. I’d also like to point out that if you’re automating messages it makes it seem that you must be around. So what though right? I mean you gave it the old college try, and you do still log on every now and then just to check. You only get a few messages a week, that’s certainly not worth sitting on Twitter eight hours a day just so you can seem responsive, particularly when half of the stuff you receive is people wanting to bitch about something. We agree with you, we do. But if I might be so bold, why are you being so stupid? You do realize you are in the “hospitality” industry right? That the bulk of the requests you receive are about time-sensitive information like availability, service issues, etc.? You don’t want to use social media as a marketing tool? Fine with me. But the one thing those marketers had right was “you need to be where your customers are”. You don’t want to spend eight hours a day or more sitting around social media? Also fine with me. But be smart about it. Having open accounts with a missing captain at the wheel, or even worse having automated messages spewing out of it, sets an expectation that you are there. That you are listening. That you will respond. Which scenario is worse, someone not finding an account for you in social media and going to your website to look up a phone number, or finding your account and asking you a question but never receiving an answer? I’m OK with you deciding that you’re not ready to spend a lot of time in social media. I mean that. But what if I told you that you could spend no time at all, and still be responsive and create a great customer service reputation in social media? What if I told you that you don’t really have to engage constantly or build a following to accomplish this? What if I told you it doesn’t even have to cost you any money. What if I told you it was so simple that even you, yes the person I just called stupid, could do it? Just do this one thing for me. Setup a system where you get notified immediately anytime you are mentioned on Twitter. You can get fancy if you like and setup notifications for key words but that’s too much like marketing, and I know how much you hate that so let’s just stick with mentions for now. There are a lot of services out there, here are a few, you can find more with a simple google search if you don’t like any of those. Now, give those services the email address for your cellphone. All major carriers provide an email address which sends a text message straight to your phone. Why your phone? Because you’ll always have that on you whereas you might only check email once a day, a quick response to a customer query can make all the difference in the world when it comes to how you are perceived. Remember, this is a real-time medium, even a couple of hours is too long to wait before replying. Don’t want to login to twitter? Never fear, some of those services even allow you to just reply to the email you received which is then sent as a tweet. See, wasn’t that easy? Yours truly, @techguerilla]]>

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