Michelle Wohl is the VP of Marketing at Revinate. Based in San Francisco, Michelle has worked in technology marketing since graduating from Cornell University.

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Social Media’s Place During a Disaster

As I followed the events of Sandy this week, I realized, again, how much more effective social media is to share news than traditional media. I was able to stay up to date on Sandy’s progress through my friends’ status updates and tweets. While local news outlets are reporting around the clock, it’s hard to trust what they say these days, knowing that they’re always going to show the worst flooded street or the hardest hit neighborhood. That said, I know social media isn’t without its extradition. Who didn’t see the photo of the dark gray clouds swirling above the Statue of Liberty that was so enthusiastically shared across Facebook. Check out this site to see which photos were fakes and which ones were real. Sadly, in many cases the real photos were scarier than the fakes.

And, of course, status updates during Sandy weren’t limited to friends. I watched the storm through the eyes of our clients, following their Facebook Page updates and tweets. Here are some examples of what I saw. The Park Central New York did a great job updating guests and friends about what was going on around the hotel and reassuring everyone that safety was the number one priority.

Four Seasons New York showed both compassion and humor when sharing updates from the storm. In addition to tweeting to concerned parties that all staff and guests were safe, the hotel served up Hurricanes in the bar and shared photos on Twitter, as you can see on the right.

Yotel took to Twitter to share how guests were waiting out Sandy, either by relaxing in rooms, watching free movies, or enjoying a complimentary lunch. True to their brand, the voice was calm, relaxed and fun.

And finally, Distrikt Hotel shared the news of their internet coming back up on Twitter, even when the phones remained down. It made me realize the power of Twitter to communicate, especially when traditional communications vehicles are down. If hotels aren’t encouraging guests to follow them on Twitter and Facebook in the pre-stay email, it’s not too soon to start. In addition, during a disaster, front desk staff should encourage people to follow the property to stay up to date on the latest news and events, should the phones go down.


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