Finding Your Hotel Staff Ambassadors

Human beings are an emotional bunch: Emotions lead to a great customer experience. It’s the emotional experience that shows how well your hotel succeeds in providing great customer service. Emotions are a strong motivator that drives bookings. One thing for sure – it’s important to not just consider exchanges with hotel guests as a chance to complete a sale but an opportunity to strengthen your hotel’s connection to guests and potential guests.

Great customer service comes down to the relationships that hotel staff forms with guests and the good feelings that create unforgettable memories for guests. It’s that genuine authentic customer relationship that promises sustained growth.

This is where hotel ambassadors come to play such a vital role. They create a buzz about your hotel to their many followers. Their influence is what brings more attention to your hotel and there’s nothing like tapping into the wealth of peer-to-peer marketing!

But are you only thinking about your influencers in terms of social media champions? Well think again. It’s time to look internally and recognize the value of your own staff.  Your staff ensures a smooth consistency of your hotel’s service from online presence to the actual hotel stay experience – no empty hype. They are the face that guests remember making them feel uniquely valued, special and important.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou

First impressions are lasting ones and your staff is the first to have a face-to-face exchange with guests. The last thing you want is bad customer service taking on a life of its own where guests and/or potential guests end up taking their business elsewhere. So it’s important to empower your staff so that the guest experience is pleasurable and memorable:

  • Take care of the guest issue in a timely manner. Guests want to feel that you are respectfully and quickly trying to find a resolution to their issue, whether big or small, and that their issue is as important to you as it is to them.
  • Listen and inspire empathy not apathy. Guests want to feel your caring about their concerns is sincere and that they have been heard. They need to know they matter and your attention makes them feel they are important.
  • Provide service consistency: Whether it is a guest or potential guest, staff needs to treat them both exactly the same. Your online presence should be consistent with the face-to-face interaction at your hotel. It is the best word-of-mouth marketing.
  • Be kind and have a great attitude: These will go a long way to affecting your guests and reflect back onto employee productivity. Happy employees make for happy guests. Treat your employees with kindness and respect and it will have a ripple effect toward your guests. Kindness is contagious. Pay it forward!

When staff finds harmony with hotel values that’s when you find – and keep – hard working staffers. Recognizing employees when they hit the mark on hotel goals, challenges and expectations gives them a sense of being part of the team and play a vital role in the bigger economic picture of the hotel. If your staff has an emotional stake in their job it creates loyalty to you and this in turn creates customer loyalty. So listen to your staff. They are first in the line of fire with your guests and know what guests want and need.  Make them part of the solutions you provide and don’t miss out on their invaluable feedback. So who are your hotel staff ambassadors?

Facebook Messenger and Mobile Messaging Apps

Facebook Messenger is one of many messaging services offering immediate customer response. The particular features offered by each app as well as what demographic it attracts determine what content fits and which app should be used.  The main purpose of these apps is to connect people together by sending free messages, pictures and videos.

Here are some compelling stats: WeChat has grown quite popular in the Asian market and has more than 697 million monthly active users.  Snapchat has 100 million daily users and is popular with millennials though its user base is aging up. Over 16000 companies from 140 countries use LiveChat. WhatsApp has 900 million users worldwide in 109 countries and is popular in markets outside the US. Facebook Messenger has now become the most popular of all messaging services with 1 billion users.

Almost every major messaging service has grown exponentially in recent years and is dominating mobile usage. This warrants the attention of hotels in seeing the importance of having a messaging service in place on their websites and leveraging chat toward providing efficient customer service.

Hotels can provide instant guest gratification with their on-the-spot answers and, since issues are resolved on the fly during the chat session, it significantly reduces follow up time. Hotels can also provide guidance toward making the final booking all the while potential guests are navigating their websites.

It’s not just about discount programs or loyalty points. Show your guests they are important and make them feel special.  Find and use a messenger app on your website and make it all about your guest or potential guest’s happiness.  It’s the guest experience that will create your hotel’s loyal followers.

Guess Who’s Using Snapchat Now?

Picture this – 2016 – Any Town, USA – A mom and dad need to search out retirement plans. Mom and dad are avoiding call to insurance company. Mom can’t make call because she is learning how to use Snapchamp… uhh… Snapchat with her teenaged son.  This is actually a tiny snippet of a Nationwide Insurance commercial but is very telling of a shift in Snapchat’s audience.

Snapchat has 100 million daily users with 10 billion video views per day. Up until now viewers have been mostly a younger crowd between the ages of 18 to 34. Snapchat’s reach to a younger audience, lower advertising prices, addition of tracking and measurement tools as well as their ad partner program, has shown they’re serious about generating revenue.  For hotels, this app is a consideration for inclusion in their social media budgets as they try to reach out to millennials.

Now Snapchat is broadening its reach by slowly attracting an older set. While only 2% of Snapchat users were older than 35 three years ago, it has grown to 14% today. The Wall Street Journal pointed out that this shift in demographics could mean Snapchat will inevitably face some growing pains much like the ones Facebook experienced.

As more parents get into checking up on what their kids are doing, so will the older generation’s interest in the app itself. With more attention to Snapchat from parents of those millennias, so will the attention of marketers and advertisers.

Hooking onto Snapchat their young audience found a safe haven for exchanges with their peers – but oh snap! Can’t you just hear the younger audience cringe at the thought of having their parents on their beloved app? Youth is nothing short of resilient. They will happily go looking for the next best thing.

Is Your Hotel Onboard the Instagram Stories Locomotion?

The speed at which good-old grey matter processes visual information is what a supercomputer aspires to be when it grows up! Of all the information the brain processes, 90% is visual data. Visuals process 60,000 times faster in the brain than text.  A few years ago MIT neuroscientists found that the brain can identify images seen in 13 milliseconds.

So it’s – well – a no brainer that pictures, photos and videos rule supreme in social media and Instagram is the jewel in the crown for this medium.

Instagram has grown to more than 500 million active users with more than 95 million photos and videos uploaded. User engagement is increasing 53% year-over-year. At least one photo or video is posted by brands 73% of the time each week.  There are now more than 77 million active US users that are on Instagram at least once per month and, by 2018, this is expected to increase to more than 100 million.

Enticing stats, right? Now how about this…

People will remember 80% of what they see versus only 20% of what they read. Why? We get emotionally attached to what we see versus what we read because reading involves more firing of those neurons. Pictures, photos and videos get us to feel. So there is more of a connection to consumers through the emotional bonding of visuals.

Adding to its allure, Instagram just introduced their version of Snapchat’s Stories. Instagram has basically copied the popular Snapchat feature but made it more user friendly so it is quickly creating a buzz for users and businesses alike.

Having more than double the amount of users than Snapchat and a more brand friendly appeal, it’s only a matter of time before the Instagram stories feature will take off with users. In less than a week since its introduction, many companies have already launched Instagram Stories. Hotel marketers will have a field day reaching their guests and potential guests.  What a great new way to gain brand loyalists all the while using a familiar platform!

All this together presents great opportunities for hotel marketers to tap into the world that is Instagram reaching out to guests, gaining new followers and finding brand champions.

Everybody’s doing a brand new dance now…. so if you haven’t already included Instagram as part of your hotel’s marketing strategy, it’s time to get onboard the Instagram Locomotion!

Digital Marketing Success: Balancing People + Metrics

Number of page views, conversion and impression rates, unique sessions and engagements, landing and exit pages, errors, ROI – and on and on and on – you get the drift. Measurables!

When it comes to digital marketing in the hotel industry, we have created a need to measure every bit of data that we can gather. The pressure to make the information quantifiable is at the forefront of every marketing decision. It has become the basis upon which most digital marketers will decide where it is best to invest their marketing dollars.

Something that is usable and quantifiable is real. Hotels can use these metrics to make decisions about whether or not their digital marketing campaigns have been successful, right? Well, not exactly. Data doesn’t provide the whole story of your hotel’s digital marketing health.

While there is no doubt that metrics can help you align your hotel’s digital marketing plans, what brings your hotel to the point of profitability does not completely rely on metrics. It’s about people – pure and simple – your guests, your followers, your brand champions and their experiences at your hotel.

But it seems the delicate balance between metrics and the people that give those metrics value has tipped in favor of the numbers themselves. So like anything that gets thrown off balance, if you only consider metrics for your hotel’s reputation and fiscal survival, then your hotel runs the risk of becoming just another hotel looking for that sale to add to their coffers.

It’s easy to get lost in a sea of data and statistics but you can’t lose sight that people and their experiences with your hotel make the numbers magic happen. Hotels need to tip back the scale so that it comes to a balanced and image-healthy view of your hotel. You can always get that initial booking and look great on paper but you can’t have a successful digital marketing campaign without consistent bookings. It is the guest experience that maintains your hotel’s reputation and keeps those bookings coming. Profits will then naturally follow and consistently grow.

Know your objectives. Know your audience. Keep it human. Tell your story. Create unforgettable memories. Build a loyal following and foster brand advocates. See the scale balancing yet?