Martin Kubler Martin Kubler

Hemingway once said, “I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.”

When it comes to successful (up-)selling through social media, you’ll probably do well to heed old Ernest’s advice and spend more time listening to your fans and followers than talking to them.

Don’t get me wrong, of course you should talk to people on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms – engage them, keep them up-to-date, ask and answer questions, and occasionally have a laugh with them; yet it’s listening that will let you find new sales leads and convert online chatter into offline business.

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Personally, I follow the 60:40 rule and spend 60% of my social media time listening to online conversations and 40% on “talking”. You can automate some of your online listening by using tools like Google Alerts, Twilerts (for Twitter), or Social Mention – free services that alert you every time your chosen keywords and phrases are mentioned on social media platforms.

To some extent, however, listening is still a manual process and requires you to consistently keep an eye on what your friends and followers and their friends and followers say about your hotel, your outlets, and your service.

It’s not all about you, mind! Setting up search words and phrases is free and you can have as many search terms as you like, so make sure to not only include words related to your hotel, restaurants and bars, but also more generic terms (for example, “good food in Dubai” or “brunch in Doha”) and, of course, also include search terms related to your main competitors.

The latter will give you insight into what people are talking about when it comes to your comp set – never a bad idea! You’ll find that the search results will often surprise you and frequently give you opportunities to engage with people. Take this Tweet, for example:

Luscious lifers, any tips for where to stay and what to do in Dubai?
6:35am 16 Feb 12 Via Facebook

Wouldn’t you want to suggest your hotel or your restaurant?

Sometimes people are also looking for very specific activities or places, so if your property fits the bill, don’t lose time and get involved in the conversation!

At other times, you might be able to persuade people, who had a bad experience in another hotel or restaurant, to give your property a try:

xxxx Boat in xxxx Dubai.
They had cockroaches roaming the dinner table and we left.
Be extra careful.
21 Aug

In reply:
Eeew Please consider us next time you want to cruise the creek!

This Twitter exchange took place a couple of months ago and resulted in a dinner booking for eight pax a couple of days later.

Total time spent to engage the client: less than 60 minutes, over the course of two days.

Dinner spend: AED 2000-plus. Not a bad return on investment in my opinion.
Remember, though, that in social media speed matters and the faster you reply, the more likely you are to close the deal.

This brings us to the question of who should look after your social media activities to ensure that your property is always “on the ball” and you get the most out of your efforts. I’ve been asked this question many times and there’s no black-and-white answer.
I can, however, tell you who shouldn’t be looking after your social media and I’ll do so in next month’s column… In the meantime: Keep it social!

Martin Kubler is the owner, director, and chief cook and bottle washer of Iconsulthotels FZE, an ultra-boutique hospitality consulting firm in Dubai. You can email him at or visit the Iconsulhotels Facebook page at