An enhanced guest experience through hospitality-based social networking is a potential game-changer. By having guests share advice on popular places to dine, drink, play, and find entertainment, the social knowledge held by a hotel's own occupants results not only in increased revenue per room, but also superior customer service experiences.
Hotels such as The Pod Hotel in New York offer modern, economically priced rooms. They also provide guests with a niche social network called Pod Culture. Guests are give login accounts with their reservations, allowing them to access the Pod Culture forum and connect with other guests. Within the privacy of the forum, guests can suggest and comment on attractions and shops within the hotel grounds as well as local bars, clubs, and eateries.
While Pod was an early mover in 2008, the push to social within hotels and resorts has been modest. With social skyrocketing, this seeming lethargy has been perplexing to say the least. The Pod Culture forum and others like it are a way to inspire more transactions within a hotel's lobby, restaurants, gift shops, and rooftop bar. And while the upside is apparent large resorts and global hotel brands, it's evident that most hospitality brands today have not taken the plunge.
A study featured in Forbes cited that "81% of US respondents indicated posts from their friends directly influence their purchase decisions." And within a hotel, the 500 other strangers in separate rooms might as well be considered "friends." A fellow guest raving about the high-speed Internet upgrade or room service quality on an internal social network can easily persuade other guests inclined to upgrade their own stay. A hospitality-centric social strategy results not only in increased revenue per room, but also superior customer service experiences. While revenue results directly from increased transactions, augmenting customer service through social media increases revenue as a result of enhanced brand notoriety, customer loyalty, and retention.
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