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Public hotel execs should leverage social
May 1 2014

A majority of hotel industry executives are missing a big opportunity to promote brand awareness on social media.

Highlights
  • Only 30% of Nasdaq 100 executive directors are active on social media.
  • Look past the top line for social media ROI.
  • A Jenga-style hotel would revolutionize the practice of yielding occupancy.
 
Shawn A. Turner

During Carnival Corporation’s recent annual shareholder’s meeting, an attendee told Chairman Micky Arison the cruise line needed to get someone on the board who is familiar with social media.
 
Arison’s response, according to the Associated Press’ Scott Mayerowitz: “I gather you don’t follow me on Twitter or Instagram?”
 
Arison, who also is owner of the NBA’s Miami Heat (hey, we all make mistakes), has 154,000 followers on Twitter and another 43,267 on Instagram. The man knows his way around a hashtag.
 
The executive is the exception rather than the norm, apparently. According to a study by marketing software company Augure, only 30% of executive directors within Nasdaq 100 companies are active on social sites.
 
I don’t know how that percentage might change if applied to the hotel industry, though my suspicion is the percentage would likely be about the same, if not slightly lower. Sure, some familiar names from the industry have a presence. For instance, Ashford Hospitality Trust’s founder, Chairman and CEO Monty Bennett has a Twitter handle (@MBennettAshford), but Bennett appears to be the exception rather than the rule. And this represents a huge missed opportunity for hotel companies.
 
A study last year by Weber Shandwick and KRC Research found that a lack of return on investment, lack of demand and risk are among the reasons cited by executives who avoid social networks. I’ll agree that there is some risk for companies on social media (ahem, US Airways), but lack of ROI and demand? I disagree.
 
While measuring direct ROI from social media can be difficult to attain, there is a great deal of value to be had in building brand awareness and improving relationships with customers, not to mention give a human face to the corporation. Driving traffic to your site via social media marketing can also improve search engine optimization, according to marketing consulting firm Clickz, which can have a tangible positive impact on the top line.
 
Lastly, at the end of the day, investors yearn for transparency from public companies. One of the best ways to not only appear transparent, but to be transparent, is to talk directly to your customers from the vantage point of a social media platform.
 
Tweet of the week
Hong Kong’s OVA Studio has designed The Hive Inn, a property that looks like a game of Jenga that could be played by giants. The hotel is designed so rooms can be removed or relocated as desired, which would really revolutionize the whole concept of yielding occupancy. Only at 70% occupancy for the night? Just remove 30% of the rooms. Boom, you’re at 100%.
 
Still, given my disastrous won-loss record in Jenga, I don’t think I could ever get a restful night’s sleep in a hotel like this.
 
 
Email Shawn A. Turner or find him on Twitter or Facebook
 
The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Bloggers published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns. 
 
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