Comment: How to alienate guests digitally

Try not to annoy guests on a digital level, says our columnist

Martin Kubler is the founder of Iconsulthotels and the CEO of sps:affinity.
Martin Kubler is the founder of Iconsulthotels and the CEO of sps:affinity.

Social media is great, isn’t it? Just go online and you’ll see that everybody is instbookingpingtweetingsnapping virtually 24/7/365. Hotels, of course, are heavily involved, and not an hour goes by without the latest hospitality offer or update on my timelines. We are now more in touch than ever with our guests. We can push out offers and news at any time to anybody, and people can reach us through a multitude of channels.

Great opportunities always bring with them great challenges and potential for spectacular failures. Pre-Internet, you could annoy a limited number of people slowly through marketing or customer service failures. Today, you can annoy a very large number of people very quickly — thanks to social media and the internet. You would have thought that, by now, we would have the whole social media thing fully figured out. Sadly, you would be wrong. Facebook et al are trying hard to make things foolproof, but as Murphy’s law dictates, you can’t make things entirely idiot-proof. So I thought I would put together a few tips and tricks on how to alienate guests and visitors digitally in a jiffy.

Just starting out on a new social media platform? Great! Show above average interest in it and update it all the time for the first few months and then stop completely. Nothing screams “We listen and value our guests’ opinion” more than Twitter accounts, blogs, or Snapchat profiles that last showed any sign of life more than six months ago.

Don’t be specific when you post updates on your platforms! There’s nothing wrong with pinning a picture of a couple of drinks and the headline “Unlimited drinks for only AED XXX tonight!” without any other info. No, “tonight” isn’t a specific time identifier on many social media platforms. Somebody might look at your content just minutes after you posted it, but others might only see it next week or next month. Always put all the necessary info into your updates.

Have a great piece of content? Post it to all your pages and platforms at the same time! Then post it again tomorrow. On Twitter, I like to see Twitter -specific updates that appear to have been written for this platform and not pulled across from others. If I see the same content on all platforms I’m following you on, why follow you on all platforms?

Ask questions or post very appealing offers that generate comments and questions from your audiences. Then disappear for a few days to rearrange the papers on your desk or take a short break in Fujairah. It’s called “social” media for a reason. The reason being that you are supposed to be social, which means that, if somebody asks you a question, you’re supposed to answer it. Yes, people ask a lot of questions. No, there is no such thing as a stupid question. If somebody takes the time to ask it, please take the time to answer it.

On the subject of answering questions and replying to messages… Want to know if a hotel really “gets” social media? Send them a message with a question via their Facebook page. If you get a reply that says, “Please send us an email to xxx@xxx.com”, swiftly move on.

The same goes for answers to questions that run along the lines of “Please check our website”. I’m not an Internet illiterate muppet. If I wanted to find the answer to my question on your website, I wouldn’t ask on your Facebook page. If I wanted to send you an email, I would have done so rather than sending you a Facebook message. The reason somebody sends you a Facebook message rather than an email is, more likely than not, that they prefer Facebook messages over emails. Hotels should honour such requests in the same manner they honour requests for fluffy pillows or vegetarian breakfast options. You wouldn’t say to a guest at breakfast: “Sorry, we haven’t got any fresh fruit, but how about trying our lovely bacon instead?”

Lastly, stop insisting that the ROI of your social media activities should always be quantified before going ahead with something new. This isn’t leadership — anyone can give the go-ahead when the return is certain. You can’t tell me the ROI of the flower decorations in your lobby either, so why ask me about the exact ROI of a social media campaign that reached 145,000 people?

Whatever you do: Keep it social!

About the Author: Martin Kubler is the founder of Iconsulthotels and the CEO of sps:affinity. Iconsulthotes is now sps:hotels — a leading hotel management consultancy that provides its clients forward-looking business strategies, keeping them ahead of the market. Email: hello@spsaffinity.com.

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