Not that long ago, a vacation used to mean unwinding and unplugging; turning off work emails and living in the present. Even as recently as 2013, the idea of a “digital detox” was a popular selling point for far-flung hotels and resorts wanting to appeal to travelers interested in escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
But as the saying goes, “Change is the only constant” and nowhere is that more true than in travelers’ desire to stay connected. This could be attributed to the growing influence of millennials, our constant need to #humblebrag about vacations in real time, or just our growing expectation of having our every wish granted on-demand.
Whatever the answer may be, today’s travelers expect brands to interact with them throughout their stay. While a number of larger brands are approaching this trend by introducing apps that can do everything from unlocking your room to interacting with hotel concierge, smaller independents are turning to another, more democratic solution: Twitter.
Downloading a branded app not only requires time and effort from the traveler, but also a large initial investment from the brand. Using Twitter as an extension of concierge allows hotels to be everywhere at once, helping one traveler complete a booking while at the same time scheduling a room cleaning for another.
Travelers are using Twitter for everything from finding deals to sharing experiences with their followers. According to research from the social media network, one in two Twitter users say Twitter content is important in their consideration of a travel brand. Twitter’s popularity among the 18-29 year old demographic, more popularly known as millennials, gives hotels another reason to take note of the social network’s marketing value.
The team at Hyatt decided to capitalize on Twitter’s potential impact in hospitality over 6 years ago, making history with their @HyattConcierge efforts. Their handle generates a lot of traffic, with almost 50k directed tweets a year coming from guests asking for everything from a toothbrush to room service.
Sol Wave House in Majorca has taken on-property social media to the next level, asking guests to tweet for a taxi or order drinks by the pool using Twitter. If that isn’t enough, you can always elect to stay in the hotel’s Tweet Party Suite, complete with mustache mirrors designed to encourage selfies, and the option to #fillmyfridge with any food or beverage option your heart desires.
If your hotel isn’t ready to go full-on with a Twitter takeover, there are still a number of great ways to put the social media site to work for you.
Tweet for Reservations & Availability
When travelers are stuck in a situation where a phone call isn’t ideal and completing a booking online might be too time consuming, giving them the option to at least tentatively book on Twitter might be beneficial to both parties.
Remember #snowmaggedon back in 2011? The storm that slammed Chicago with over 20 inches of snow left countless travelers stranded at O’Hare without a place to stay. Rather than settling for the less than ideal sleeping situation at the airport, many travelers turned to Twitter to find a room.
Hotels in the area offered special deals for travelers trapped by the storm and then blasted the promotion out over social media channels or direct messaged travelers who were already expressing distress. Properties can monitor certain keywords related to weather in their market with social media software like Hootsuite, making sure they don’t miss the opportunity to turn a stranded traveler into a booking.
Personalization & Special Moments
In the age of oversharing, guests are usually willing, if not eager, to share intimate details about their likes, preferences, and celebrations with a brand. When a guest mentions you in a social media post, you can use the information in their tweet or profile to create a special moment for them once they arrive.
Did they mention that they were celebrating their birthday with you? Greet them with a bottle of champagne and a birthday card in their room. Or take a cue from Refinery Hotel, and set your guest up with a custom box of cupcakes featuring their profile photo.
If you are a Gene Wilder fan, you might remember the scene from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory with a childish Veruca Salt throwing a hissy fit, shouting, “But Daddy! I want the golden goose, and I want it now!”
Now I am not suggesting that you treat your hotel guests like whiny, spoiled children, but I am suggesting that today’s traveler expects only the best and in a timely manner. Walking down to the concierge is considering an inconvenience for certain guests who would prefer instant, on-demand interactions, and nothing is more on-demand than Twitter.
Empowering guests to order food or ask for more towels via text or tweet, gives your concierge staff the flexibility to use their time more effectively; focusing on pressing customer service issues that might require more face time than others.
Not only are travelers looking for recommendations, some are turning to their hotel’s concierge for emergency doctor’s visits, transportation, or directions for particularly hard to find places.
Social media gives you an intimate glance into who exactly is coming to your property. Twitter is a two-way conversation, and anytime a guest interacts with you, they give you the opportunity to build trust and loyalty, to truly give your brand a voice. This direct connection with your guests is what got most hoteliers started in hospitality, and just because it is happening digitally doesn’t make it any less meaningful.
This post originally appeared on the Screen Pilot blog and is reproduced with their permission.