Integrating social media into your hotel's marketing communication

Posted on Oct 21st 2009

If you are embracing consumer generated media, guest reviews, and social networking as marketing and public relation opportunities to get the good news out about your hotel, here are some interesting points of discussion for your next meeting.

By Doug Kennedy

Remember in “the good old days” when “all” we had to worry about from a negative guest was that they would tell their family, friends, and co-workers?  Most seasoned hoteliers will recall being told in training classes that “a happy guest tells five others; an unhappy guest tells 9-10 others.” It seems like not that long ago I was facilitating workshops where, based on these numbers, we tried to quantify the significant cost of future business that was lost through negative word-of-month advertising, and even then it easily justified an investment in hotel hospitality training. 

In today’s world, a guest’s potential to share negative feedback is almost unimaginable, and seems to be gaining momentum.  For example, in 2002 a now-famous Powerpoint presentation was created by two disgruntled business travelers who were members of a hotel brand’s loyalty program, but who according to their slides were treated extremely rudely by a hotel in Dallas.  The presentation, which was complete with graphics, charts, visuals, was sent to their contacts via e-mail with a cover note encouraging them to share it with friends, and encourage their friends to pass it on.  It eventually was sent to hundreds of thousands of others and is now a media legend having been mentioned in the USA Today, NBC, and elsewhere.  In checking online today under key words “Yours Is A Very Bad Hotel,” there is still extensive publicity out there about this now-famous presentation.  Interestingly, the authors have since expressed they have accepted the apologies of both the hotel and the brand, are turning down interview requests, and have even expressed both empathy and a little sympathy for the night clerk who they claim treated them so rudely that night.  “Way back then” then it was considered shocking that one complaint could be blasted to hundreds of thousands of people via e-mail networking.  Here is a link to the presentation online:

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