Today was the last day of a major hospitality industry technology conference, HITEC.  I was excited to attend with a press pass for Tourism Currents, and to go to many educational sessions about social media, especially those with panelists like Loren Gray, Tim Peter and Robert Cole.

More blog posts to follow in the coming weeks, but for now, here are my quick takeaways….

The hospitality industry appears to have many of the same concerns as the average CVB, DMO or Tourist Board:

1) What to do about negative comments? Answer:  Treat as you would in person: “I’m sorry, how can we fix it for you?”  Whatever you do, for heaven’s sake, respond. It is lame to fail to engage with customers when you are paid good money to engage. Side note: yes, respond to positive words, too. How? Say, “Thank you, glad you enjoyed your stay!” to that blog post, tweet or note on your Facebook Wall. You’d say thanks to such feedback if people were physically standing at the front desk, right? Online courtesy is no different.

2) Is there ROI to social media? Answer:  There is, if you have a goal and metrics and analytics tools in place, as you should for ANY communications effort. If your goal is customer satisfaction improvement, set goals and measure for that. If your goal is brand awareness, set goals and measure for that. If your goal is bookings, set goals and measure for that. Really, I’m a bit tired of social media being flogged with the ROI stick when other efforts are not. Is there ROI for your billboard, or that thousands-of-dollars print ad buy that you reflexively pay for each year? As Gary Vaynerchuk quips: “What’s the ROI of your mother?”  What’s the ROI for not being lame, and for responding to those who care about you and are talking online both to you and about you?

3) How can I do all this? Answer:  Work beyond 9-5, use a smartphone to respond wherever you are and build a competent team to spread the load. It’s a tough gig to do social communications well, no question. Why is the Abilene CVB successful? Because Shanna Smith-Snyder works her tail off. Is she working harder than you are? Look in the mirror, think hard and answer that to yourself. Why are the Authentic Seacoast Resorts successful? Because Doug Anweiler (the marcomm guy there) works tirelessly to promote his Nova Scotia properties. Why is Tourism Currents successful? Because co-founder Becky McCray and I have forgotten (temporarily) what a weekend is.  I have so many examples of smaller towns and properties that are shining stars in social communications because they understand that it’s about connecting with humans and telling a good story, so I don’t have much patience with big brands with deep benches who can’t seem to handle the load.

Those who have a salary should earn it.  Too many want the rewards without hustling to do the work.

This is pretty blunt, I know, but some need to hear it.

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