Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Social Networking for our Hotels - Practical Applications
Social Networking fascinates me, as it does so many other hoteliers these days and it is already revolutionizing the way we take reservations. If Expedia, Hotels, Orbitz, Booking, Bookit and Travelocity (to name a few) are smart (and they are!), they are already dabbling int ways to exploit their vast email lists and follow up survey results to create "communities" of future traveller opportunity offers. To our benefit though, they may be to big to get into the granular information that we can use in personally contacting our own happy guests. And as only we can, offer them specials as repeat guests that are not transparent to all and who book directly through our reservationists. We clearly have an advantage here.
EXIT SURVEYING, used correctly, is a very powerful tool. I learned its correct application in fortunately befriending the GM of the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, Rene Balin years ago. The Waldorf had one of the most comprehensive and successful EXIT SURVEY programs I have ever witnessed. (I became enamored by it and began studying it's results and than placing it into over 25 hotels in South Florida! I even was called upon to give seminars to SAS hotels on our process and success with the survey!). The KEY is with the front desk manager who must buy into the program and OWN IT. That done, I guarantee the hotel WILL receive a 65%+ response from all guests checking out of the hotel! A very powerful figure! One question, in particular on the survey, "Would you consider returning to the property in the future?" is the beginning of your data base for creating "social marketing communities" to exploit!! Exclusive to only you!
In real terms; if you have a 160 room hotel (58,400 available room nights) with an 82% annual occupancy (47,888 occupied room nights) and you are assuming an average stay of each guest is 2.8 nights or you have 17,103 unique guests); you will receive a 65% response through exit surveys from all guests checking out (that's 11,117 exit surveys!). If your hotel is common and averages 80% of all guests that state that they would consider returning to the property in the future (you than have 8,894) guests to add to your social networking data base each year! Your converstion ratio on these happy guest will be high in time periods that they would not normally return unless they received a special offer, at approxiametly 45% or 4,002 guests). If 4,002 guest returned (staying 2.0 nights average each stay this would create 8,000 room nights) from "returning guests" and a reduced arbitrary rate of $125 per night you would be adding $1 million dollars in gross revenue! And through a channel with little cost.
By not overwhelming past guests (who sometimes only need a reminder and a special offer to return) you will see your repeat guest segment (a cost free channel booking directly through your hotel reservations!!) will explode. We brought our own repeat guest percentage to 32% at one resort!
Be careful, and don't overwhelm your happy guest by overdoing it with too many tweets and postings! Be selective about when, to whom and at what frequency you are making your offers. Otherwise you risk turning off some of the greatest fans!
Before you know it, you will have thousands upon thousands of contacts who stayed with you and loved your place and are just looking for an excuse to come back!
This is ONE practical application to consider in creating communities in social marketing that works and really puts Head in Beds!
I have seen revenues jump from $7,000 in year ONE to $100,000+ in year TWO in implementiing social marketing techniques. That figure is still climbing as we communicate today.
If I can be of service, please feel free to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org or via my tweeter account HotelGuyRBE or FaceBook Account...Richard B. Evans
Very truly yours,
Richard B. Evans, CHA, CRME, CHAE, LKKD
Certified Hotel Administrator
Certified Revenue Management Executive
Certified Hospitality Accounting Executive
Likes Krispy Kream Donuts!