I have already experienced with a few hotels a blase attitude towards peer reviews because it is “simply a place for people to bitch”, or “whiner central”. Many hotels have a wait and see attitude about social media, and many are as cantankerous and defensive as…. well… the industry has typically been when regarding technological or social advancement. We were one of the last industry’s to go wireless, and we were also one of the last to enforce a “no beard” policy.
An aside about the hotel industry if I may:
Industry wide, we are not adapters… nor are we pioneers. One of the most respected men I know in the industry told me an old industry joke: “Pioneers were shot in the back.”
ROI is hard to justify when it comes to pioneering new technology that is buggy and will probably fail. Anyone ever had to rip out faulty construction three days before opening will attest trying the “newer” tech isn’t always the “safest” tech. And don’t get talking to me about radiant flooring used in commercial hotel projects. Ugh.
So, it has been hotels standard operating procedure to do the following:
Wait for some other “idiot” (said endearingly) to pioneer the tech. Let *that* person waste all their money trying it, figuring it out, and then fixing it when it breaks.
After 6 months, you take what they did, *AND WHAT THEY LEARNED*, and do it right, better, and cheaper.
This is a fail safe business plan to be sure, but it does backfire.
So back to the current state of things, IE Hotels Backfiring. If you are a hotel and don’t get social media peruse the below.
Hotels seem to have a somewhat guarded and defensive approach to social media. Even the wise properties that are innovative, internet aware, and with strong marketing teams… they are at times LOST. Scared that their old marketing trends are dying, and now their rolodex and contacts and college degree are quickly becoming a vestige, or worse… irrelevant (that is marketing degrees are now sort of moot if you were in school over 5 years ago. Yeah it hurts, I am getting old as well). I am not so quick to think it isn’t of merit… but it will take some fixing to get old marketers communicating with new marketers. It is like the dorky book scientist that needs to explain his innovation to the public but cannot find a simple way to describe what a “Differential Microwave Radiometer”* does.
So… we have hotels looking at social media as a compartmentalized outlet for people to bitch about something with other bitchers (pardon the colloquialistic expression… just imagine you are at one of those managers meetings during a lunch hour with those “types”… you know?).
But it isn’t that. Well it is. Actually. Just look at my previous post. Sure I attack the consumer, but I must take a swing at the stodgy old hotelier once inawhile too.
Social media is a vital tool for a couple reasons. One is that you can retroactively “hear” consumers and respond, both directly to them and about the situation. How you respond is up to you…. like employees fishing comment cards out of the box and ripping up the ones with their name (saw it happen, never did it), or getting these comments to the department heads: GM for serious issues, Rooms for cleanliness issues, Maintenance for broken hooks, etc. It can actually help you run your business, sure!
But what is more important is where it is taking your brand, and what being aware of social media can do for your brand in the coming 100 years. Reidentifying, repurposing, and shifting your old brand (that was pushed through old media efforts) into this new world of anti-marketing and all advertising becoming spam.
The upshot is that you can reorganize your business into something with purpose, meaning, ethos, and intent. Instead of pushing a terrible product (no offense, anyways I mean the other guy reading this) on people with glam marketing tactics like direct mail pieces and flashy billboards (that was tongue in cheek), you reorganize your structure to understand and yield to consumer demand and interest.
Finally, that one human to one human connection exists between social reviewer and business. When you start seeing how the new market works, and how the new consumer handles businesses (in this case a hotel) you will be able to go from pushing your product, to listening, learning and then packaging your product into something not so much “sellable”, as something highly “DESIRABLE”.
Force fed consumers are a thing of the past, and now consumers create individuality with their demand for quality products to endorse. People are empty vessels to fill with your brand if they so identify or appreciate the intent behind it.
Realize this. It isn’t about selling a product anymore. It is about creating a product people want.
When your brand / hotel / business stops pushing itself on a million people that don’t care about you, and really listening to the 1000’s that do… and modeling yourself to the market…. is when you will start being successful in this post-advert world.
(* a microwave instrument that would map variations / anisotropies in the CMB)