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Hotels Weigh In On Building Trust Online.
By Melanie Nayer ~ Exclusive Column
Friday, 7th October 2011
 
As more consumers move online, it's becoming more important for business to maintain trust and respect on social channels.

Without face-to-face conversation, your consumer needs to rely strictly on your word. Bottom line: if they don't trust you, they won't buy from you. So, how can you ensure you're building trust through social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and FourSquare?

I consulted a few hoteliers to get their thoughts:

"We view social media as a powerful channel to build consumer trust and deliver on our brand promise, which is to surprise and delight our guests by providing service that is gracious and sincere," said Mac Joseph, Social Media Marketing Manager for Mandarin Oriental Hotels, which currently has 8100 followers on their main Twitter page @MO_HOTELS. "We focus on building genuine relationships with consumers on Facebook and Twitter by engaging in two-way dialogue. Through listening first to our audiences, we are able to add value to their experiences with our brand online."

Joseph told me that Mandarin Oriental recently came across a tweet from a guest at Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona, wanting a guestroom with a bathtub. Joseph said his team connected with the hotel, who were able to move the guest to the desired room type that same day.

"Through this open dialogue, the guest and our audiences witnessed first-hand that we are not simply pushing content through our social media channels, but also listening in the hopes of making a difference in the guest experience," he said.

InterContinental Hotels, which also has various twitter accounts for individual hotels but one main channel, @InterConHotels, with over 7,200 followers, recently made headlines with their new mobile platform and iPad accessibility in worldwide hotels. The hotel group also uses social platforms to introduce guests to local information before they check in, giving them a sense of environment before they arrive at their destination.
 
"Even though we are interacting with our guests and our friends as a brand, we try to be as human in our interaction as we can," said Charles Yap, Director, Global Brand Communications for InterContinental Hotels.

 "This means being conversational with our approach, highlighting some of the fun discoveries our guests have made in their travels, providing local assistance through our InterContinental Concierge teams to those who need it, and taking every opportunity to help should things go wrong."

As a consumer and industry expert, I've found a few things to be beneficial when working with hotels online:

  • Constant tweeting and Facebook messages are great ways to promote the hotel and converse with guests, but it's also a great idea to post testimonials from your clients. These reviews are coming from the guest themselves, and other potential guests will rely on the feedback of their peers before making a purchasing decision, especially when it comes to travel.
  • Keeping it personal adds a level of emotion to your conversation. By putting a name with a Twitter account or Facebook post, you're introducing your guests to other hotel employees, allowing guests to learn a little more about the hotel and destination on a local level.
Building trust through online platforms is big business, especially in today's uber-social world. Hotels: How are you building trust with your consumers online?

Melanie Nayer is a hotel reviewer and expert on luxury travel around the world. She has covered all aspects of hotels including corporate restructures, re-branding initiatives, historical aspects and the best of the best in luxury hotels around the world.

Melanie writes a weekly exclusive column for 4Hoteliers.com
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