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Hotels using social media to research customers

Hotels using social media to research customers

By Nkoyo Iyamba | Posted - Jun. 3, 2013 at 7:49 a.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Premium service at hotels is not just for big spenders.

Analysts say hotels managers are going the extra mile online to make sure guests have a custom-made lodging experience.

"It's no surprise that general managers are now looking to social media, to Google, to Facebook trying to get an insight on their customers," said Doug Wren, host of the Travel Show.

The World's Best Hotel Service survey published in Travel & Leisure magazine analyzed hotel general managers at the top 16 hotels in each region of the world. Researchers found 31 percent of hotel managers personally greeted guests upon arrival. Fifty percent have a staff-to-guest ratio of 1.5 staffers to one guest and 56 percent offer room service 24 hours a day.

What may surprise travelers is that 44 percent of hotel general managers admit to using Google and Facebook to research guests before they arrive, according to the survey.

"They're somewhat becoming Big Brother. Some people like it, some people don't," Wren said. "They can Google you. They can Facebook. They might even have a friend on LinkedIn and can read up on you."

It's no surprise that general managers are now looking to social media, to Google, to Facebook trying to get an insight on their customers.

–Doug Wren

Wren said hotels have and keep databases of when guests stay and whether they place orders, such as movies.

"But they don't have all the specifics of what you're like, what you read, what you do," Wren said. "And now thanks to social media, we provide those bits of information for them."

What are hotel managers doing with all of the information about guests gathered online? Wren said hotels are making sure guests are comfortable with some of their favorite things while away from home.

"If you read a lot a lot they might place books there. They might know that you love a certain type of chocolate, certain type of food," Wren said. "There might be a gift certificate there for your favorite store."

Wren said for those who like the personal touch, this is welcomed spying and almost guaranteed extra attention.

"A hotel generally notices you after 20 nights, 30 nights for sure, 50 nights absolutely. (After) 75 you're their best customer," said Wren.

Hotels sometimes find their guests are average travelers and only arrive for special occasions. So while this group spends big bucks, they may not necessarily become repeat guests. Wren said managers only have a short time to get to know these big spenders, and the best way to do it is to get online.

"It could be a boutique hotel where you're spending $1,500 a night. It could be for a honeymoon or a second honeymoon," Wren said. "It could be a rewards traveler. It's not necessarily 'Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.' "

Wren also said hotel general managers are taking the time to get an online peek into the lives of their average and big spenders — mainly to give special treatment because they want to reward guests in some way.

"Those general managers still want to know (more)," Wren said. "They want to keep you. They want to make sure you're coming back."

Wren said the unspoken deal should be mutually beneficial. For example, there are hotel guests who may choose to return, and therefore hotels expect a good review.

World's Best Service 2013 survey results
  • 44% Admit to using Google and Facebook to research guests before check-in
  • 31% Ensure each guest is personally greeted by a manager upon arrival
  • 50% Have a staff-to-guest ratio of at least 1.5 to 1
  • 56% Offer room service 24 hours a day


Wren said hotel managers research their guests to see if they have an online presence. The guest might have written reviews on sites such as Trip Advisor. Managers want to make sure they receive good marks for their service.

"They may encourage you because you're more likely to post something," Wren said. "They may say, 'We'd love to get your feedback, and if it's negative, we'd love to hear about it before you do that.' "

Despite the extra attention and custom packages, not all hotel guests like the online intrusion.

"The downside would be somebody checking up on you and kind of knowing everything about you," Wren said. "But again, it's usually out there because you put it out there."

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Nkoyo Iyamba


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