With social media playing such a large role in the way consumers communicate, hotels need to have a cohesive plan to stay on top of it, according to general managers.
CHICAGO—HNN editorial director Jeff Higley sat down with five general managers of hotels managed by Hostmark Hospitality Group to tackle five topics affecting GMs everywhere. Each day this week, we’ll feature excerpts from the discussion.
What is the importance of social media at your property level?
Jacque Raffaele, general manager, Sheraton Milwaukee Brookfield
“It’s the way people learn to communicate these days. We’re trying it now to be utilizing it as an awareness (tool), as a networking (tool), a marketing (tool), but now we’re also using it to advertise. We’re on social media blasting campaigns and blasting packages and promotions and trying to get people into the hotel. It’s all about kind of staying ahead of the changing trends and making sure that we’re doing everything we can to be visible. Since we can’t change all of the consumers and the way we want them to communicate with us, we need to be flexible in the way we go out and communicate with them and their natural format.”
Mimi Varchi, general manager, Holiday Inn Cape Cod-Falmouth (Massachusetts)
“I share the same sentiments. We’re a little bit different because we are a much smaller property. My entire team kind of dabbles in overseeing it. For us, the reviews are a big focus and we make sure that we’re responding and sharing them with the teams so that, you know, that’s our reputation that’s out there. You know, certainly in my area, we don’t have so much the millennial generation. We’re kind of in the 40-to-65 age range, so they’re not as focused on it as some of the other areas.”
Dennis Law, general manager, Holiday Inn Surfside Beach (South Carolina)
“It’s kind of a mix. We don’t have one specific person—everybody has a task that they handle. If it’s a bad review, usually it gets to me. There’s the person that keeps the consistency part, there’s one that is more on task with the brand-related social media and some of the reviews. The hardest thing to respond to is the brand-specific (issues) and hardest to maintain because it becomes so much more focused on pushing everything back to the brand. We have used it on the positive side to actually find some staff. We’ve done it through Facebook and that type of thing, and that’s worked out at times. A lot of the waiters, wait staff, service industry in that area, we’ve been successful bringing people in that way.”
Dwight Miyakawa, general manager, Hampton Inn & Suites and Homewood Suites-West Loop (Chicago)
“We do have someone dedicated to taking care of that for us … maintaining the exposure, maintaining the responses. The one thing that we’re still honestly trying to figure out is how to use the tool to successfully get out there and to gather more information. I’ll be honest, I’m not quite sure I have great understanding about how the algorithms work for all these different channels and how they can help us better expose ourselves to those people going through those channels. Those numbers, certainly, we all get them from our brands. But I’ll still be the first to say I still feel it’s a bit on the gray area of exactly how to use these tools in the most effective way.”
Brian Cooney, general manager, Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza
“Social media is very important to a hotel of our size. We have a dedicated person that is monitoring social media, guest reviews, reputation management, I’d like to think 24/7. I know she does, she checks it late night because I see some of her posts. In addition to protecting our reputation, she does a great job in using Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and all that, and trying to get positive messages out there about our hotel and what’s going on in different promotions and things like that. Fifteen years ago, no hotels ever dreamed that they’d need to have a position of director of revenue, and now it’s like you can’t be without somebody like that. The new thing that everyone has to have is someone that’s dedicated to social media and reputation management just because that’s the way our society has changed. Communication is instant now. People react so emotionally and passionately about what goes on social media. Our current president is a great example of that. He uses social media and the whole world reacts to every word he says on social media. So that’s become the new norm. It’s important that you have somebody that’s very good and very skilled in knowing how to protect your reputation, put the right kind of messages out there. … It’s now become a necessity in our industry to have someone that’s constantly focusing on that 24/7.”