Recent events have brought to my attention the Embassy Suites Twitter account and I must say that I’m a bit disturbed by what they have on there. I applaud them for being on Twitter, but sadly based on reading their tweets, it’s missing the point and, dare I say, doing it wrong? First of all, Embassy Suites is blatantly putting on their profile that this Twitter account is not for commenting or responding to customer service. Rather, it’s created for use by ES Marketing (which I can only assume stands for “Embassy Suites Marketing”). Secondly, do they not know that Twitter is a social media platform and the days of traditional marketing are long over?
So you’re marketing, but don’t respond to anyone?
I’m really confused about why you would set up a Twitter account using your brand’s name only to poach it and use it for marketing purposes. Almost every possible situation imaginable, people will always cite your brand as the Twitter username and for a hospitality company, why would you make it soooo difficult for a person to find information about you and to ask questions? I can only imagine what the guest service account looks like? In fact, I did a Bing search of the keywords “Embassy Suites Guest Services Twitter” and you know what the first result that appeared was? For the @Embassy_Suites Twitter handle. Twitter usernames are synonymous with buying a domain name for your company. Would you give EmbassySuites.com to your marketing team and when a user got there, they saw that instructions on finding another address or perhaps information that won’t help them accomplish what they had hoped would be available on your site? That’s ludicrous! So why would you give up your most important Twitter username to an individual department?
Marketing the old way is gone. Allow me to introduce you to social media.
In the 90s, marketing was done by pushing information out to your customers. These days, people have much more options and resources available at their beck and call so that they can make much more educated decisions without relying on brands to send them information. Perhaps this is what Embassy Suites forgot? What is confounding is that they, or at least their marketing team, has embraced social media – specifically Twitter, but yet when you look at their tweets, it’s not conversations or retweets, but just more marketing spiels left and right, almost as if they don’t care what you’re thinking or if you’re interested, but rather that they continue on and on and on…
To make things more interesting, Embassy Suites’ marketing team should be the ones coming up with creative in how they reach out to their customers. And you’d think that marketing teams would be better aware behind the power of social media and would know now to brand their department’s Twitter account after their brand! All aspects of their Twitter page shouts “customer service” and it’s simply dispeled by telling pretty arrogantly on their profile to ignore Twitter if they have questions or need help and just to call. I repeat my earlier statement to Embassy Suites: You’re Doing It Wrong!
What can hospitality companies do with Twitter.
For brands in tourism & hospitality, if you’re interested in getting into using Twitter, I think you should have your brand be your central point of contact. People will 9 times out of 10 reference your brand’s name as the Twitter handle and unless you’re not able to actually acquire that name, you should make that addressable to your customers. It’s disheartening to a customer who is active on Twitter who also wants to have a conversation, tweet to a brand and then look at that company’s profile only to see them not responding to anyone but just continually pushing out content – essentially noise – into the Internet.
In an earlier analogy, I cited that your Twitter account is like your web domain address. Use this brand Twitter handle as your central area to help funnel people into different areas where they can find information. For hospitality companies, create multiple other Twitter handles if the needs arise – one for meetings, travel professionals, press, etc. This way, you’ll be able to continue the conversation with a customer by simply passing them along to your other brand’s Twitter accounts so that those will grow as well – don’t take people away from their preferred medium unless it involves private info or it can’t be solved in more than 140 characters.
Understand that Twitter is for conversations and by simply having a Twitter account where you just throw stuff out shows that you don’t get it and what you have to say is meaningless. Hold contests with your Twitter account or find some interesting news to talk about on Twitter. If you think about your hospitality brand, people are going to want to do business with you because for some reason, hospitality means that you’re making people feel welcome and that you’re going to treat them right. But is your Twitter account really doing that? In Embassy Suites case, they’re not. They are just putting up a stone wall on Twitter that will unfortunately tarnish their image and show that they really don’t feel like engaging with a much more interactive audience that has other opportunities to hurt their bottom line and brand. Twitter plays a dual role for brands and for hospitality brands, executives need to know that simply having a presence without any significant or sensible activity will show people that your brand does NOT care and they’ll simply get that message out faster through social media.
So which do you prefer? Having a meaningless symbol of your attempt at understanding Twitter and faux engaging OR actually thinking through why Twitter is a good idea for your industry and business (specifically hospitality) and learning that regardless of your intent, it’s never a good idea to simply buy up property and not really address what is being said. Especially if you’re marketing, like in the case of Embassy Suites, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that it’s bad marketing to show that you’re there, but you just don’t care. In fact, you’re going to find that people who find you play lip service to them by not paying attention can do much better marketing damaging your brand using social media.
Make sure you’re treating everyone like equals and understand the tools you use.