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Social Media for the Hospitality Industry

Social Sonar - Saturday, August 06, 2011

Cold Calling Concierge provides lead generation for the hospitality industry. Today we talk to owner Heather Yesko about social media in her industry and attitudes toward social media in general.

1. How do you use social media at your company?

Although we firmly believe that making face-to-face, or at least voice-to-voice contact with people is key, we have found that social media sites are outstanding resources when it comes to connecting with others. We use avenues such as LinkedIn and Facebook to find potential clients, to keep in touch with existing clients and to promote our services. Even though these sites are pretty standard in social networking, due to the overwhelmingly successful response we have seen using them, we don't have the need to go elsewhere. We are however, always open to trying new advances in social media as they arise.

2. Have you seen a change in how companies are using social media? If so, can you explain?

Within the past few years social media seems to have switched gears from being a 'trend' in the marketing industry, to a standard in the business world. I consider this to be a positive, natural progression in our society as long as people are able to maintain a healthy balance of new technology and old fashion practices. Utilizing the internet to boost business is great and I think everyone should be educated on how to do so, but commodities such as in-person meetings and handwritten letters are personalized touches, not to be forgotten.

3. Where do you see social media, as it pertains to hotels and hospitality, going in the future?

The sky's the limit. I think the hospitality industry currently has access to the social media outlets they need to achieve their desired results, but the problem is: A.) They don't know how to use them efficiently or B.) They know how to use them, but simply don't. I read somewhere once that social media has become a staple more than a distraction and I think that is a great outlook to have, but in order to have our employees and future generations adopt that mind-set, training and motivation is required.

4. As an industry, what would you say the top 2-3 social media sites are to keep an eye on? Why?

I have a feeling that the sites to look out for are the ones that have yet to be created.

5. Do you have a dedicated person(s) to handle social media at your company? Why or why not?

I personally handle all of our social media. My employees do not have the bandwidth to take on any tasks other than catering to their clients. I have found during my years of experience, that the majority of people in the hospitality industry too often become overwhelmed with having to multi-task throughout their day which leaves them spreading themselves too thin in certain areas; unfortunately sometimes the most important areas. Because of this, my employees each have the same job to focus on throughout the day, everyday. This practice has shown high productivity and consistent results.

6. How, if at all, has social media changed the way you interact with clients and potential clients?

Social media has allowed us to reach people, that without it, would have never even been a blip on our radar. It's amazing how easy it is to saturate a particular market, or research a certain cross-section of people with just a few clicks of the mouse. And likewise, clients and potential customers can easily contact us and stay up to date on our latest services on their own time.

7. In general, do you see social media reputations as being more of a brand or property-level responsibility? Why?

I feel that it is a mixture of both. I think it's up to the brand to set the standard and protocol for how they wish to represent themselves through social networking and its up to the properties to uphold those standards. The brand should educate their properties on how to efficiently promote their services, but it is each property's duty to take that information and use social media to make it a reality. It's kind of like a parent-child relationship, or at least it should be.

8. Do you think it is harder for branded/corporate or boutique/smaller hotels when it comes to managing social media? Why?

When it comes to managing social media, I can see how it might be harder for branded/corporate hotels simply because they are working on a much grander scale. Keeping their message consistent and making sure the their properties are actively using social media could present a struggle, but as long as they have a plan in place and have the right management in place to educate and motivate, it should run smoothly. Boutiques and smaller hotels might have an easier time managing their social media, but they have the added difficulty of it actually working for them. Because they are on a smaller scale and the public might not be familiar with their property, as they would a large, popular brand, their hotel could easily be overlooked or fall through the social media cracks.

Using Facebook for Personal Business Profiles

Social Sonar - Saturday, July 30, 2011

Those Facebook fan pages sure are fun for restaurants, day spas and personal trainers. They can publish a daily special or advertise how well a client is doing with their weight loss. Facebook fan pages aren't for you, right? You are a professional -- an attorney, a doctor, an accountant. You put a suit on to go to work every day. Facebook is fun for sending pictures of your kids to your mom, but it is not for your business contacts. Or is it?

Facebook has 700 million users. I bet most of your business contacts have an account.

By night, I may be a blog-writing extraordinaire (or so I tell myself). By day, however, I am a litigation secretary, paralegal, and general admin to an attorney who practices in the insurance coverage industry. No, we don't do insurance defense, hired by insurance companies to represent car accident victims. We the represent insurance companies, who may be fighting with other insurance companies about coverage for said car accident victim -- a level above, so to speak. I know -- who knew that a wild pole dancing, blog-writing, social networker would have a real day job, right?!

Perhaps in our very specific and specialized field of law, a Facebook fan page is not essential. Our clients are generally large companies, so we deal with many faces in any given company. There is never one single person making decisions about cases -- from handing the work to us to signing off on a settlement. However, if we did personal injury and any Tom, Dick or Harry walking down the street was a potential client, a fan page might be something to consider.

I also don't think that a fan page would hurt our company. I "Google" pretty much everyone and everything. When I hire employees, I absolutely put their name into a search engine to see what comes up. I hardly believe I am the only potential employer doing this. So if someone decided to search for my boss' name or our law firm, I don't believe it would hurt to have as much of a positive presence on the internet as possible. .

I believe that a fan page can be beneficial to the internet-savvy professional, as long as it is managed properly. You want to make sure that your personal Facebook page has some distinguishing factor to keep it from being linked to your professional page. You certainly do not want the tagged photos from your drunken night out with friends to come up when people search for "Thomas W. Smith, Esq." Maybe you are Tom Smith professionally. However, why not be Tommy Smith privately? Sure, it might make it harder for your best friend from first grade to find you, but it might save you a headache in the long run. Even better, ask your friends not to post those photos -- what happens on Facebook, stays on Facebook...forever.

Having a website and/or Facebook page is becoming more and more common for businesses. It is almost as if you are not a valid company if you do not have some kind of presence on the internet. If your potential client searches your name, make sure you are controlling as much of the information released as possible. This is where Social Sonar comes into play. If you do not understand how social networking works, or think that just because you are not on Facebook, you are not being affected -- think again. Anyone can put any kind of information on the internet that they would like. Keeping up with the social media is important -- even in the professional setting!

lolorashel lives in the bay area, where she tweets, posts, and twirls about Twirly Girl Pole Fitness: women of all shapes, sizes and abilities can flourish, get their sweat on and still feel sexy!