I get the feeling some small hoteliers are looking at social media to be a panacea that will solve all sorts of problems.
Well, there are some things that social media can't fix.
If you need to solve any of these problems, social media isn't going to help.Your property has bad reviews.
It is true that by having an open and accessible online presence, you can respond to and engage with those who post bad reviews about your property.
But your focus should be fixing the problems mentioned in the reviews, not trying to mount a military-like offense on the social networks. That will only come across like you have something to hide.You don't really have the time.
The "pundits" might disagree with me, but I say it is better to not have a Facebook Fan page than to have one up there that's looking a bit dusty and unkept. Same goes for a blog – if you can't update it once a month, why bother?
The problem is that if that's the first page someone sees (and in the world of Google, people do not always land on your homepage first), they might think "oh, my, is this place still open?" First impressions count.You don't have any spare capacity to offer.
I know of a small boutique hotelier who was doing a great job with social media, really offering up some value and personality, but was flooded with queries and requests that she couldn't actually fill. So her marketing and presence began to suffer with all that extra traffic that she couldn't cope with.
Make sure you're geared up for this; an easy fix is to partner with other local hoteliers to share capacity. It's a good problem to have, but you need to manage it properly.You're doing it because someone like me told you that you have to.
Yes, I think you're missing out if you don't investigate this new media platform. But if you don't have an open mind and don't fully explore your options, that will come across. Social media brings transparency, and if people don't like what they see, they'll move on.
So if you're going to dip your toes in and give it a try, then give it your best shot, put a smile on your face, and enjoy it. Really, what's the worst that could happen?Andy Hayes is the Managing Partner of Travel Online Partners (TOP), a company focused on helping for small businesses in travel and tourism with online technology.
To find out more about their do-it-yourself guides, coaching and consulting, visit the website www.travelonlinepartners.com Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/emeryjl/506966918