Why the Morgans Hotel Group is Keeping Social Media Local.
By Josiah Mackenzie
Thursday, 29th April 2010
Jim Zito is Vice President of Interactive Marketing for the Morgans Hotel Group, based in New York City; at last month's EyeForTravel Social Media Strategies for Travel conference, Jim talked a little bit about how they are moving social media management responsibilities away from the corporate office and towards the local level.

I sat down with him to ask a few questions and clarify his strategy.

"It's a transition process that we're involved in right now. We engaged the services of an outside Social Media agency, and we're putting together training programs that will be used at a local level. Depending on what we deem appropriate, social media marketing will probably take place mostly on the local level. And I'm discussing with our Local PR agencies how what they work on locally at the hotels can be complimented by the social media agency."

Josiah: What are your objectives in moving social media marketing to the property level?

Jim: A lot of the time at our hotels there a lot of things going on that we're just not aware of at the corporate level. So there are obviously corporate-level initiatives, but locally there so many other things that are happening that the hotels are more in touch with, as well as the local fans/followers are engaged on a different level.

The hotels are also the best point of contact for response if there's an event going on – they can coordinate with the local talents. They can tie in social media activity with the DJs or the music performers.

How do you encourage staff at the local level to share the stories? I know there are many front-line staff that could become aware of stories developing… do you have some sort of a mechanism to capture all this and then distribute it in social media?

Because we are a fairly small organization, we are fortunate – there are such ongoing contact daily between all the departments that it's really easy to capture information on what's going on. There's no formalized structure right now, but I think it's still too early for that.

I was interested in the social media triage concept you mentioned in your presentation. Do you have a ranking system to prioritize social media responses?

We can monitor if they are in influencer or a blogger – even their Google ranking. Fortunately, there's not usually enough volume that we have to use that, it's more one-on-one. Each customer is just as important as the others.

We just have this triage system in place in case there was an onslaught of online feedback, and we had to deal with a lot of responses quickly.

You mentioned the concept of having a 'social media champion' at each property. How do you select that person? What if some of their personality traits?

It's the personality. First it's usually interest for them, they tend to be the person on property that's the most engaged and service oriented. All the staff may be great, but is usually one standout. And then we'll ask if they have an interest to do this. If they do, we train them accordingly.

So it could be the concierge it could be assistant to general manager, could be the general manager. Or could be the front-office manager that has the most one-on-one relationships. It's easy for them to address and respond to feedback – both positive and negative – that we get online.

Original article: www.hotelmarketingstrategies.com/jim-zito-morgans-hotels-social-media

About the author
This blog is written by Josiah Mackenzie, who enjoys exploring the relationship between emerging technology and the hospitality industry. 

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