Ok, so at first glance it might seem pretty comical to pose this question – but when you start to think about it we really are heading down a path where answers to this question will be needed.
Cast your memory back 10-15 years ago. All communication with clients was via phone, fax or letter. Defining what counted towards a Sales Manager’s activity goals as a “call” was pretty straight-forward – it was a call made to a client over the telephone.
Then along came email. At first, hotel sales departments refused to count emails as calls. But over time more and more client communication moved from phone to email. Sure, from a sales perspective we would always prefer to speak to a live person – nothing beats that. But it is just a reality of the times we live in that so many of our clients point-blank refuse to use the telephone - stating that email is their preferred method of communication. So, hotel Directors of Sales begrudgingly began allowing Sales Managers to log emails as calls.
So what’s next in the evolution of communication? Easy answer – Social Media. I have talked a lot on this blog about Social Media and the need for hotel sales people to take full advantage of it to further develop existing client relationships and to forge new ones. Social Media is not going away.
So let’s say as a Sales Manager you have your top clients on your friends list on facebook. One day you message one of your clients via facebook to touch base and ask them if they have any upcoming groups that you can bid on. Does this count as a ‘Call’ activity? If you were having the same discussion on the phone (or via email) you would count it.
Ok, so that one was pretty cut and dry. Then what happens when you have a chat with a client via facebook (or any other instant messenger for that matter)? Personally I think that’s as good as a phone call – so surely that counts?
What about posting a message on your client’s wall – does that count? What about posting a comment on their status, or one of their pictures, or even tagging them – does that all count? Communication with clients is to be encouraged – this is how stronger relationships are forged, but are there limits to what we consider a ‘call’? Welcome to the murky world of communication via social media!!!
Worth thinking about and discussing with your team – sure to inspire some debate!!!
Chances are that you probably ended up reading this article because of an update on facebook or twitter. Clearly these social media are a very quick and easy way of communicating to the masses. So are you using these media to help with hotel sales?
If you have not already done so, you must go ahead and create a facebook page for your hotel. Twitter as well. Facebook is my preference as it allows for greater communication with your ‘fans’. Make sure you send invitations to all your top transient guests, travel agents and meeting planners. These are the same people that you make consistent telephone calls to touch base with – so facebook updates can further facilitate this.
Furthermore, and most importantly, having your top clients being fans of your hotel via facebook helps further define their relationship with your hotel. This way they begin to see your hotel as more than just a venue for meetings or accommodations, but rather a business that they have a valued connection to.
Make sure that you send update to all your ‘fans’, but make sure your updates contain useful information. Information that will help to further strengthen the already-discussed relationship. This is also a great way to let meeting planners know about promotions and ‘hot dates’.
Now for this to happen you will probably need to point your IT department to this article so that they can unblock your access to facebook as they most probably already have done so!
Finally – there is a good chance that your clients will start sending you friend requests (i.e. to your personal facebook account). When this happens you need to categorize those ‘friends’ into a ‘clients’ category. Then go into your privacy settings and lock down the access to your profile that your clients have. This way you do not offend them by declining their friend request, but you are restricting what they can see. Personally I restrict access to my Wall and Photos.
Have you joined my facebook page?
Click the image to the left to add yourself as a fan, that way you will be notified when there are updates to my blog!