The HotelNewsNow.com offices have been buzzing this week. I attribute the infusion of energy mostly to the influx of our out-of-town team members who have converged on Cleveland for intensive, daylong strategy sessions. (We’ve got some great things in the works.)
But the steady stream of Starbucks coffee hasn’t hurt the cause either. Our conference table has been littered with the familiar, holiday-themed red cups that are apparently still in circulation. You know the ones: Adorned with snowflakes and the like, these iconic caffeine receptacles likely swamped your Instagram image feed when they were first released before Thanksgiving. Such is the excitement the world’s largest coffee chain evokes from its loyal fan base with a simple change of packaging.
Pictures like this flooded Instagram during the holidays. Ahhh … the wonders of technology.
Starbucks is renowned for its ability to rally the masses—an effort that has gained significant traction in its social media initiatives of late, according to a Business2Community report. The company continues to add more than 300,000 Facebook fans every week to its already huge 33-million base; it has more than 3 million followers on Twitter.
How? Starbucks doesn’t rely on one-time promotions to increase its number of followers—a tactic that rarely yields long-term results. For example, an Ad Age report found that only 1% of Facebook fans actually engaged with brands.
Instead, the coffee giant treats fans to a steady stream of special deals and an experience they wouldn’t get by just visiting a store.
“(It) isn’t a marketing initiative. It isn’t a PR initiative. It’s cultivating and creating great consumer value and great consumer relationships,” said Alexandra Wheeler, Starbucks’ digital strategy director in an old AdWeek interview.
And here’s the kicker: A joint study by comScore and Facebook found that exposure to a Starbucks post—whether from the company’s social media pages directly to its fans or from repost/retweets from the company’s fans to the broader network of non-fans—leads to a 38% increase in in-store purchases.
Yes, you read that right: Social media can indeed yield revenue.
But let’s underscore the most important concept here: As countless hoteliers already have discovered, simply including a booking widget on a property’s Facebook page is probably not going to move the needle.
What will? Long-term campaigns that increase engagement and foster relationships with your guests.
6 social intelligence trends
As long as we’re on the subject of thinking intelligently about social media, let me quickly highlight six key “social intelligence” trends from the folks at newBrandAnalytics, a company that offers social media business intelligence and guest satisfaction software solutions for hotels.
1. So long, surveys!
With (somewhat) consistent, (mostly) reliable and free guest feedback coming from the Web, more companies are shifting their focuses from traditional solicited surveys to integrated online reviews.
2. “Industrial espionage is now legal and free” (Note to legal: newBrandAnalytics’ words, not mine.)
“Forget old-school normative assessments and anonymous data,” according to the release. “Smarter companies will use social intelligence to dig into their competitors’ performance. They will not only benchmark competitors' social data to try to outperform on operations, but also as inspiration for product creation.”
3. Bye bye, traditional performance evaluations
Instead of yearly reviews, newBrandAnalytics thinks real-time feedback from guests—and coworkers—will drive 360-degree evaluations in the future.
4. Not just for marketing
Brands will expand their myopic views of social media to share key insights with operations, human resources, customer service and product development.
5. Extracting actionable insights
Forget star ratings. The most knowledgeable hotel companies will dig deeper in online guest feedback to extract actionable insights to improve operations, service and more.
6. Everything’s local
“Savvy companies will use location-specific social reviews and alerts to quickly pinpoint trouble spots and react in a way best suited to deliver the best possible customer experience in that location or store,” according to the release.
Now on to the usual goodies …
Stat of the week I
8.6%: The median capitalization rate on trailing 12-month net income for stable assets, according to the Hotel Investors Gauge, a quarterly survey from us and our sister company STR Analytics.
Stat of the week II
31%: Percentage of hoteliers who will be making incremental hires during 2013, according to a TravelClick survey. Additionally, the survey found:
More than half (58.8%) of hoteliers say they will increase their marketing budget in 2013.
The majority (64%) of respondents said their hotels will be making capital improvements in 2013.
Quote of the week
“Berlin is one of the most difficult markets in the country because of the oversupply.”
—Marcus Smola, CEO of Best Western Hotels Germany, bemoaning the struggling hotel market, as reported in “Supply increases dampen outlook in Berlin.”
According to STR Global, sister company of HotelNewsNow.com, the November 2012 pipeline showed there are 4,955 guestrooms in the active pipeline in Berlin, representing an 8.2% increase in existing supply if all those projects were to come to fruition.
Another big culprit for the city’s woes: continued delays in Berlin Brandenburg Airport. Originally scheduled to open in 2011, the project has been pushed back several times—most recently from October 2013 to March 2014.
Comment of the week
“If we would do a ground reality check we would find that there are several factors that are to be parallelly addressed if we are to overcome the shortage of skilled labour. Aspirational expectations of the current young workforce. Abundance of alternate opportunities that are far more attractive. Archaic regulatory issues dealing with training and education. Appropriateness of the many labour practices in the industry. There is an urgent need for the employer industry and educational entrepreneurs to get together and become co-creators of the future hospitality workforce.”
—Commentor “K.V. Simon” shedding light on a number of additional obstacles to the labor shortage in India, as reported in “Lack of skilled labor still plagues India.”
Email Patrick Mayock or find him on Twitter.
The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of HotelNewsNow.com 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.