Hotel chains are seeing the need to make their presence felt online, communicating with their tech-savvy customers through social networking sites.
Stephen Boggs, senior corporate communications manager, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) said: “Customer behaviour has changed and technology has enabled new ways and channels of communication with customers.”
IHG recently launched the Priority Club Connect (https://community.priorityclub.com) to reach out to its 42 million loyalty members. This online community platform allows interaction with IHG executives as well as among the Priority Club Rewards members.
“The community provides IHG and our hotel brands with the opportunity to build relationships with our guests by giving them a voice and incorporating their feedback into the things that we do,” said Boggs.
“Priority Club Connect will also serve as a trusted source of information for Priority Club Rewards, providing special community-only promotions and point earning opportunities, transparent dialogue with IHG executives and management, and the opportunity for travellers to share travel experiences with each other.”
A quick check online reveals that IHG, along with other hotel chains such as Marriott, Mövenpick, Swissôtel, Four Seasons, Starwood and Hyatt, all have their own Twitter and Facebook profiles.
Through Facebook, users are able to obtain information about the hotel brands and keep abreast of their new services and promotions, as well as raise discussion topics and provide opinions. Contacts are also available should anyone have queries.
Some hotel brands are so popular that they may rally up to over a thousand fans on Facebook. For example, Mövenpick has a following of 1,160 fans while Swissôtel has attracted 1,061 at last count.
One particular hotel chain, Marriott enjoys a high profile with nearly 11,900 fans. Besides having an active presence on Facebook as well as Twitter, Marriott also has its own blog, www.blogs.marriott.com, which Bill Marriott, the chairman and CEO of Marriott International, himself updates frequently.
“This blog is distributed to guests, customers and associates where they can post comments,” remarked Louise Oram, senior associate of GolinHarris, whose clients include Marriott.
“Marriott has designated people who post, track and monitor the sites. On Twitter, the person answers the questions and does follow up on comments. For blogs, comments are posted as they come in and are screened for appropriate content, but otherwise, the forum is pretty open.”
On May 18, Hyatt Hotels launched its global 24/7 concierge service, HyattConcierge on Twitter.
Participating as a guest blogger on Hotel Check-In, Hyatt Hotels’ CEO Mark Hoplamazian penned his first blog (http://bit.ly/zcTyq), stating that Hyatt hopes to use this customer service channel to heighten their responsiveness to “enrich the guest experience and deepen the guest preference for Hyatt”.
Hoplamazian wrote: “Through HyattConcierge, our skilled guest service professionals will be able to respond to guests’ questions, needs and concerns, any time, any place, and by any digital means on Twitter – before, during and after their hotel stays.”