Last week, Gary Vaynerchuk’s book, The Thank You Economy, hit the shelves. For those of you that don’t know Gary, check out his site and watch some of his videos. Yes, he’s a wine guy but he is also an extremely savvy businessman that has built his business on customer service in the electronic age of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
I recently saw Gary interviewed about his new book on Morning Joe and the first thing that I thought was, “He would make a great hotelier.” Why?
First, Gary understands just how important word of mouth recommendations are. He knows that to be successful, you must provide a quality experience with great service that will get people talking. He also understands that, unlike just a few years ago, there are now platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, that can be used by unhappy customers to share their complaints… and happy customers to share their experiences.
Hoteliers today have finally woken up to the power of TripAdvisor, Yelp and other review site. One terrible review can be the difference between a booking and a missed opportunity. Called the Cycle of Positivity by Daniel Craig, providing incredible service will lead to positive reviews, which will lead to more bookings.
Second, Gary gets social media. He understands that social media can bring a business owner closer to his customers. Gary spent his first few years as a wine shop owner engaging with his customers everywhere – – in person, on email, and on social networks. A Twitter user since ’06, he quickly realized that people want to engage with the people and brands they love in a personal, real way. (He compares social media to a cocktail party. You can’t do all the talking and it can’t always just be about work.) He engages with his customers to build closer relationships and, just like in the real world, that means there’s give and take. He listens. He shares great content. And he responds to questions. He has made himself very approachable and people know how to reach him.
When I speak with hoteliers about what they should be doing on TripAdvisor, I always tell them to play an active role in the forums and to become market experts of their markets. Why? Contributing to forums is a great way to share your knowledge of your market without making it just about a booking. It’s where you can get to know new people and provide valuable content about events, new openings etc. Once people trust you, they will want to stay with you. Also, everyone wants to know someone at a hotel. It’s an ego thing. Be friendly and accessible to people and invite them to follow you on Twitter and stop by your hotel. They will come.
Third, Gary understands the importance of knowing your customers’ prefernces and providing unexpected service levels that will drive them to talk (and tweet) about their experiences. Hoteliers have the unique opportunity to really get to know what their customers like. When at your hotel, do they make special requests? Follow your guests on Twitter to find out what they like, and don’t like. Make a note of those preferences and use them later to to surprise and delight your guests.
In the end, it’s all about great service and that’s what hospitality is all about.