Last year I tasked my marketing team to investigate the benefits of resourcing and concentrating on social media as a new revenue channel. I’m sure many other hotel companies have experienced, as we did last year, a growth in commission payments to online third party booking agents and raising our direct awareness and presence over as many direct online channels as possible has become a key part of our business strategy. They came back with some really interesting findings and insights from various industry experts, which led us to ask is social media simply a tool for engagement or can it be used to drive direct revenue? And does our typical leisure customer actually use social media channels to influence their decision and how?
Then they shared with me an insightful presentation that was given at last year’s FIA annual conference at Cheltenham Racecourse which was given by Sue Antiss from Promote and highlighted that 2 out of 3 people use social media of some kind, whether it be on Facebook, asking a question on a forum or reviewing a product online and out of this came the suggestion that we create a regular blog with thoughts, views and news from across the group and I thought I’d kick this off.
Ironically, when the marketing team try to show me what we are doing on Twitter and Facebook amongst other social media initiatives, the IT firewall has blocked me getting into any of those sites from my office. Now they are trying to encourage me to download a mobile app for my Blackberry so that I can check on here instead. One step at a time please….
But this has led us to really look at how we engage with all of our virtual guests, especially through websites such as TripAdvisor which influences so many trip choices. I was delighted to see that many of our own general managers respond directly to reviews, both bad and good and it creates a foundation on which we can improve our service and interaction with future guests. Can we drive direct revenue from social media yet? That’s still for us to see and test but I’ll certainly keep you posted.
That’s all for now folks.