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Social spying and the luxury hotel experience

15 October 2013 | 12:03 am

social-media-customer-service-studyImaging that you are travelling on business and you finally check into your hotel room to find that someone has planted a digitally manipulated framed image of your family by your bedside. Would you appreciate the gesture or would you feel just a little bit freaked-out?

This, it seems, is the future of luxury hotel hospitality.

With hotels being judged online by users of Trip Advisor and the like, they are having to go the extra mile to win an online reputation boost by encouraging guests to write positive reviews on the ratings sites by stalking their social media profiles.

Studies in the luxury hotel market state that 92% of guests read online review sites and 89% of these readers are influenced by the reviews. And, reviews directly affect the bottom line. In 2012 Cornell study found that online reviews can be responsible for a swing of over 10% in the hotels profits. Online reputations dictate the rise and fall of revenue per room (RevPAR) – the metric used by the hotel industry.

Hotels at the high-end of the market are now employing customer service analysts to find out as much as they can about guests so that they can provide a personal touch to heighten the experience of their stay. There are cases of an asthma sufferer’s room being kitted-out with a humidifier because research had discovered that he suffered from this ailment on his Facebook page.

These hotels, and many of the chains in the 3-star bracket, use 24/7 social media monitoring to ensure that the customer service team knows that there is an issue and can address it, and therefore take some control, before it spreads across the social networks.

It’ll be interesting to see if some of the hotels in the lower cost bracket will look toward improving their ratings with personalised customer service.

Oh, and did I mention that imbibing good Champagne and chocolates makes me a really happy guest.