Social media is the phenomenon of this century, and along with huge advances in mobile technology, the Internet has changed our lives beyond compare in an amazingly short time.
The tipping point is approaching where more business will be done online (than offline), and companies will have to quickly adapt to these new markets or suffer the consequences. However, along with these vast new markets come some downsides. The free and almost instant communication social media brings means that good ideas can spread quickly – but conversely bad reviews can just as quickly spread and ruin a business. The anonymity it affords means that people are no longer afraid of saying what they think, or going over the top.

In the leisure industry, prime examples are review sites, the biggest of which is undoubtedly TripAdvisor. There are few other sites that rely so heavily on good reviews for their continued business, so here are some interesting ideas adopted by some hotel brands to try and exploit the good points whilst mitigating the bad points of social media:

Find Your Social Niche 

It can be hard to connect with customers online unless you have an angle to work with. The last think you want to be doing is sending out scheduled sales-based messages over and over, people will quickly get bored with you. Social media should be the frivolous side of your business, so have some fun. A clever cruise line spotted that people loved to brag about their upcoming holiday, or tweet about it when they are onboard. Harnessing the power of all these eager people has helped them to build a very popular and fun brand with excellent social media outlets.

The Personal Touch 

The main good point of social media is the near instant connections you can make with customers. Combine this with teams of well-trained online operators (even specific local teams in some case), and you have a powerful tool for connecting with people. This can be used in the form of a customer service feed, an online concierge, chat functions and social reviews, giving people ideas and recommendations for local sights and sounds.

Accept and Embrace 

As mentioned above, TripAdvisor has become such a huge power in the leisure industry that a lot of hotels became scared of it. There have been stories of several bad reviews bankrupting one establishment, but the reality is that if you own a hotel you have no control over what people say. Many hotels have now accepted that they cannot do anything about this, and no matter how many glossy brochures you produce, people will still look on the site to see what negative points people picked out. It is best therefore to embrace this, and add a live widget showing reviews, even if they are bad. You can also use Review Trackers to track reviews of your hotel. As a hotel you need to try and give good service so that people leave positive reviews, and if your reviews were really THAT bad, then you wouldn’t be showing them!
About the author: Jimmy works for weekend break hotel company HotelshopUK as an online blogger. He is big fan of social media and is endlessly fascinated by the new markets it opens up and different ways it is used.