Love it or hate it, Twitter is a force to be reckoned with. The best any hotel operator can do is go along for the ride and make the most of it.
It turns out businesses might have the most to gain from the online network that connects people with 140-character messages. The project started with posing the question, “What are you doing?” but it’s more about telling people what’s happening in real time, according to Evan Williams, CEO of Twitter.
The original question trivializes the possibilities, he said, during a keynote session at the Online News Association conference last week in San Francisco.
Williams said it’s the new relationships that businesses have with their customers that is the most exciting opportunity for Twitter. There has never been interaction on this level.
And for those that think the Twitter phenomenon will be short lived, Williams said the business model for Twitter is not designed to turn a profit, for now.
“We will build Twitter and grow it as long as we can pay for it,” he said. “To build a business on top of that is a different task.” The focus now is on incremental improvement and building a great company.
Some hotels already are taking advantage. Examples such as announcing special promotions via Twitter, promoting new amenities or events, and monitoring guest sentiment are just the beginning.
Here’s a great story about Gaylord Hotels & Resorts picking up on a guest comment made on Twitter. The Gaylord National Harbor guest was Twittering about craving cornbread. @gaylordpalms not only attempted to get the guest cornbread during their stay, they remembered it the next time she stayed at a Gaylord hotel! How’s that for customer satisfaction.
Thanks to Bonnie Buckhiester for pointing that one out.
If you’re not in the game yet, it’s time to get started. Start a Twitter account for your hotel and dedicate someone to manage it.
From another session at ONA09, here are some Twitter tips:
1. Create a Twitter dashboard. Use a downloadable application (or app as the technologically inclined like to call it) to help manage all of the people you follow and what they are saying. Tweetdeck, Seesmic Desktop and Hootsuite are the top choices.
2. Find local “tweeps.” Twitter is a great way to connect to the local community. You can find people based on their location in several ways. The first is Twitter’s advanced search feature at search.twitter.com/advanced. Other tools: TwitterLocal.net, NearbyTweets or Localtweeps.
3. Follow breaking news. Use Twitterfall to follow the Web in real time. Create custom searches to follow topics you specify and save them for later retrieval. You can also follow hashtags, phrases and terms identified with a # that can be searched like keywords.
Source: JD Lasica, Socialbrite.org