The hotel concierge was once a position that exemplified luxury. These individuals offered their supreme knowledge of the local area and attractions as well as the ability to help plan activities, make dinner reservations or just to assist you along the way.
In recent years, the various electronic communications on a property’s social media platforms have replaced many of the tasks formerly attended to by the onsite concierge. Past, present and future guests are able to send their digital queries and it is the hotel’s responsibility to respond with helpful information.
Larry Mogelonsky, President and Founder of LMA Communications, recently wrote a feature article about a natural merger that should take place at efficient hotels in the modern travel space: Concierge and Social Media.
Why the Merge?
In the past, helping guests was the primary duty of the concierge, but now that this role is being usurped by social media managers. Wouldn’t it make sense to merge the two departments?
Even before the advent of the internet, guests were able to find key information about a property, but it could be a straining and time consuming process. Enter the onsite concierge and guests’ stress levels were alleviated with immediate and specific advice that better helped travelers to enjoy their stay.
Today, guests have more resources to choose from in searching for hotel information, but the preference is to have a local expert who will be able to give a customized response tailored exclusively to them. You are doing the leg work so that they don’t become fatigued from research, and the interactions build rapport and trust with potential guests.
The only real difference between these roles is the face-to-face communication with a concierge, a more emotionally driven form of communication that is more likely to spur guests to develop an actual bond with the hotel.
Social media has scattered communication across multiple channels and personnel, making it difficult to track in some cases. Now, everyone is carrying around a cell phone or tablet and can contact a property wherever they happen to be situated at the moment. Consequently, if true rapport is to be gained, there needs to be a coordination and integration between online and onsite staff-to-guest communication.
Inbound Versus Outbound Social Media
Mogelonsky is quick to differentiate between the two types of social media handled by a given property. Outbound social media includes the advertising, marketing and public relations materials that disseminated to potential guests. Inbound social media, on the other hand, concerns the communications received from consumers and your response efforts. Developing a sound connection between your inbound social media manager and on-site concierge will help guarantee there is no breakdown in guest-to-staff communication.
The Guest Relations Department
Social media efforts can be divided across your PR and marketing departments, alleviating the pressure on your social media manager to dedicate his or her time to inbound consumer demands. In order to build positive and genuine relationships with guests, there should be constant contact between the inbound social media team and the concierge staff, or the aptly named joined department: the Guest Relations Department.
In this respect, you are not simply combining responsibilities, but you are also pooling your resources. Given that the future of the concierge and all communications with guests are heavily dependent on technology, it is crucial that you give guests the most straightforward methods of reaching you. There needs to be a base proficiency in both social media and dealing with guests face-to-face, in addition to a working familiarity with the area and access to the resources that can improve this foundation.
Take advantage of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Live chatting has become a great way to receive real-time feedback from guests. You can also encourage people to post their own pictures, comments and reviews of your location.
Mogelonsky summarizes his argument by explaining that the core of social media is two-way communication. In the hospitality world this involves telling your audience about news, events and upcoming promotions, while also remaining accountable to them when they send a digital request, question, picture or anecdote. Companies that cannot respond effectively simply are not using the medium properly. The convergence of the concierge staff and social media will ensure a seamless guest experience for future travelers.