A negative experience at a hotel during travel—whether for business or leisure—cannot only ruin a customers stay, but can influence a future purchasing decisions. Horror stories surrounding guest experience are all too common and are often publicized. In today’s socially driven market, guests have the power to publicly share their experiences to dissuade friends, family and followers from booking with a specific hotel brand.
The nature of the hotel industry is one where great service—whether it be face-to-face or online—is seen as a necessity and synonymous with the industry. According the U.S. Travel Association, $158.4 billion was spent on hotels and lodging during 2012, and it can be assumed that this number would have shown no signs of slowing down. Aside from your typical rewards programs and preferred guest offers, more companies are beginning to shift towards a customer service centric approach, building brand advocacy and loyalty. This has resulted in more brands placing a greater emphasis on monitoring customer interactions over social media, recognizing social as a standard channel for customer support.
With the accelerated growth on social customer service for brands, we decided to take a look at five major hotel brands on Twitter and evaluate how well prepared they are to take on guest experience issues. Below is how they rank in both response time and responsiveness.
Key Findings from our Analysis:
-Dedicated Twitter handles for Customer Service
Of the five hotel brands we looked at, Hilton (@HiltonHelp) and Hyatt (@HyattConcierge) both leveraged a separate handle to communicate with guests who are have issues with their experience. By separating the marketing and customer service, brands can isolate these support requests with a handle that’s sole purpose is for resolving issues.
-Responding to customers in under one hour
According to a recent study, 42% of customers expect a response on social under 1 hour. While a majority of brands struggle to keep up with this expectation, we’ve found that Hyatt did a tremendous job. With 94.8% of @mentions to the HyattConcierage handle being replied to under 1 hour, Hyatt has shown an impressive commitment to engaging with customers over Twitter. It is also worth noting that @HiltonHelps was able to reply to 85.7% of @mentions in under 1 hour. It comes as no surprise that the two brands using a dedicated Twitter handle for Customer Service also had the best customer service stats over social.
-Ignoring guest complaints entirely
Worse than slow response times is not responding to customer complaints at all! Believe it or not, there are a number of large brands who completely ignored customers over social media. We have outlined one specific case as it pertains to Best Western, who replied to only 4.5% of all mentions, with only 6.3% of those replies under the desired 1 hour threshold. Needless to say, there are a number of reasons why ignoring your customers on social isn’t good for your brand.
What hotel brands can learn:
In the ultra-competitive travel and lodging market social customer service has the ability to turn guests into happy returning customers. The opportunity to protect revenue and create brand advocacy is much higher when you make yourself available to your guests on their preferred channel of customer service.
In addition to resolving customer support related issues, it is also critical to listen and engage with new prospective customers who may need guidance on their buying decision. Brands can create new business revenue by simply monitoring social outlets for questions and mentions about their service offerings. Below is an example on how Westin Hotels was able to influence a buying decision in the same conversations as Radisson, Best Western and Sheraton.
@KanwalKalim Thank you for your inquiry. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with further information and we will look into this.— Westin Hotels (@Westin) February 6, 2014
@Westin look forward to hearing from you! thank you!— Dr Kanwal Kalim (@KanwalKalim) February 6, 2014
Done right, social customer service can not only retain current, but also attract new customers. Discover your Twitter customer service performance below.