Penny Fondy | Guest Blogger
Earlier this fall, I attended a large luncheon at an upscale hotel. As an event planner myself, I am always tuned into the details of the event. This particular one was flawlessly executed, with an energetic atmosphere, excellent service, and all of the other elements that make a memorable event. And then all 500 of us departed and headed to the valet (this particular hotel offered no self-parking option). An hour and half later, I finally left the hotel. During my unexpected delay, I did what everyone does – checked social media. The event’s hashtag was lighting up with critiques about the valet situation. What had been a memorable event for good reasons would now be remembered for disappointing many. Even more damaging, those posts remain in the digital world accessible for future guests.
This experience led me to think about what hotels and event planners really do to engage with their clients’ social media. In my experience, we know very little about how the client is promoting the event – and by extension – your hotel, in their social media strategy. We just don’t ask. And, I think it’s time that we did.
Three steps to social success
- First, let’s start by asking. Do the organization and the event have Twitter or Instagram handles? Will they be promoting the event on Facebook? Make this information part of your event planning, and then provide your hotel’s social media handles to the organization. Ask them to tag you in relevant postings, which helps build your social presence.
- Next, follow the organization and event on social media. You can, of course, do this through the social media platforms, or you can set up a Google alert to automatically notify you. Share the posts with your hotel team, either as a way to alert them to potential issues or to praise them for compliments. I would recommend following the organization and event before, during, and after to keep an eye for any issues that might come up.
- Finally, respond. Retweet, share, like, comment. Whatever the platform allows, take time to promote the organization and its events to your followers. The event attendees and organization members will see your participation and view it positively, and your followers will have an opportunity to experience an event at your hotel without attending. If anything negative arises, respond with a promise to right the issue, not with a dissertation on why the individual needs to think differently.
One more activity for the “to do” list
I realize that meeting planners and event coordinators are busy with multiple clients and multiple events, but I believe to continue to ignore the impact of social media on group and meetings business is a greater risk than adding another element. Our world is driven now by the real-time postings and commentary of our guests. In fact, we want them to drive the commentary, because other guests trust their responses more than our content. One study revealed that millennials are 50% more likely to trust user-generated content than other media.
More interaction with hotels and their hosted events can only help generate future business for our hotels and greater success for our clients. I think it’s time we embraced social media as another tool to leverage our investments in meetings and groups at our hotels. If you and your hotel team are already social media savvy for events, you’re ahead of the curve. Would you share what best practices you’re using for social media success with events? The more we all know, the more our industry will continue to innovate and see growth.
iResponze® partners with hotels by responding to online reviews on their behalf. This collaboration allows staff to focus on what they do best – deliver exceptional guest experiences.
Penny Fondy, ISHC, is a partner with Wits’ End Productions, which has delivered big solutions for corporate meetings and events in the most creative, unique ways for 30 years. She describes the company’s role as a ‘Wits’ Army Knife’ for clients, operating as a trusted extension of client teams.