Ride the Social Wave at the First Twitter-Themed Hotel

The increasing customer diversity and demands are changing the landscape of the beach hotels, and the leading hotel chain in Spain, Meliá Hotels International, launched a new program in which its innovative @SolWaveHouse Hotel, located in the beach of Magaluf (Mallorca), became the first ever “twitter experience hotel” in the world.

With the goal being to facilitate interaction between social networking savvby customers, the new experience hopes to create excitement and stimulate “buzz” amongst the young audience that typically fills the hotel. It is typically oriented to beach, music and surfing experiences, and features two pools with artificial waves to practice flowboarding (an hybrid of surf and snowboard), unique in Europe.

Sol Wave House (Mallorca), the first ever "Twitter Experience" hotel

The hotel creates a virtual community #SocialWave and new services that connect its clients by twitter, in a completely interactive experience.

Since its opening in the summer of 2012, the Sol Wave House has positioned itself as a social hotel, with 184 suites and junior-suites with sea views and contemporary design; 2,500-square meters VIP terrace facing the sea; pools; sporty-style restaurants with a California twist; lounges; and concert areas with live music during the day.

As stated by the hotel’s General Manager, Gonzalo Echevarría: “the hotel takes a new step in meeting the expectations of an increasingly experiential and social customer profile, through new technologies.”

The main engine of the whole experience is a virtual community called #SocialWave, only available from the hotel’s WiFi. Two Twitter Concierges are devoted exclusively to meet guest requests via Twitter and generate conversation in this virtual community. Guests can know and chat with each other, experience, flirt, compete in contests, share photos, etc. Every corner of the hotel is designed to engage a new conversation.

In addition, the hotel has created the new #TwitterPartySuites which are spacious, equipped suites perfect for fur people. In these suites, users can enjoy perks like a bottle of champagne and special sports drinks on arrival, along with a 20% discount on all bars and restaurants in Wave House, VIP hammocks and customizable mini bar, plus a free drink in the#TwitterPoolParty held every Friday.

“Our main client profile, young and social, is always looking for new experiences and emotions shared with a growing virtual community; With #SocialWave we wanted to meet this aspiration, which binds to the quality and striking design of our product and the outstanding beauty of the environment,” explained the first “Twitter Concierge” at the hotel.

Do you think social media-themed hotels will become a common trend?

How to Turn Guest Complaints Into Compliments

The hotel industry is notorious for guest complaints. If you’ve ever worked retail, you know the saying “the customer is always right.” This applies to the hotel industry as well since the customer is buying a room for a night or more. How customer complaints are handled is often key to keeping that customer and gaining more.

I recently stayed at The Damai Resort in Orlando FL and overheard a very upset guest’s reaction to the pool being closed for routine clean up. While I was also looking forward to the pool that day, I understand that routine maintenance must happen. But what I was most impressed with was how the staff member handled this upset guest and seemed to turn his attitude around by the end of the conversation. It seemed that by simply listening to the guy and giving value to his concerns and offering fun Orlando alternatives, the guest left happy and content.

Here’s what I learned:

THE EASY FIX

A guest calling to request an extra blanket or towel isn’t complaining, yet. But that request can turn into a complaint if not handled properly. At current hotel prices per night, a customer expects his request to be met quickly. Maybe the call was placed and the customer left the room for a few hours. That blanket should be on the bed waiting for the customer upon return. There should never be a second call for a simple request.

LISTEN AND L.E.A.R.N.

The word LEARN is an acronym for how best to handle a customer with a complaint. First, you need to L or listen. This is absolutely the most important because it’s only by listening that you can assess exactly how best to handle the situation. Allow the guest to explain the problem.

or empathize is next. Be empathetic to the situation by recognizing the inconvenience or disruption. Don’t point fingers or try to explain why something isn’t your fault. It may be that the customer is upset about something else and the complaint is a way of blowing off steam. Regardless of reason, convey sorrow that the customer is upset.

A is for act. After listening and understanding, you must act. If the room is dirty or the bill is wrong, see to it immediately or as soon as humanly possible. Wasting time or putting off repairing the situation will only make it worse.

R means a report must be made. In order to keep the same thing from happening, report the problem to the supervisor so it can be addressed in a staff meeting. Sometimes, discussing a complaint can lead to innovative solutions and fewer repeats of the issue.

N is for notify. Notify the customer that the problem has been handled. If the customer is already aware that the problem is handled, simply check with the customer later. You can do this on the same day or the next, but be sure to find out if everything else is ok or if there is anything else that needs to be done. A little extra attention after a complaint goes a long way toward making the customer feel he matters.

ATTITUDE

The overall attitude of the staff has a lot to do with customer satisfaction. If guests hear staff gathered in groups complaining, it lowers the satisfaction level. When bringing a problem to the attention of staff, a guest doesn’t want to hear the staff complain or explain why something didn’t happen correctly. After all, it’s the guest paying for the room and amenities.

Bottom line is that there are several ways to turn around a disgruntled guest. Many times it ends up being something small that could have and should have been fixed and doesn’t. If you can manage to turn around a frustrated customer, you’ll have a repeat customer for sure and may even get new business from them as well. Whether it’s the fault of the staff or the hotel or not, the end goal should still be a happy guest. That is the goal of customer satisfaction after all.

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This post was contributed by Carla C. Burton. Carla is a self-employed Mummy blogger with a BBA in Business Administration from Bond University.  Although a Gold Coast native, Carla moved to Melbourne in 2008 to further her writing career and raise her children.  Carla has become a top contributor to many blogs worldwide and thoroughly enjoys the freedom that self-employment has provided her.  To find out more about Carla or to follow her other posts, follow her on Twitter @CarlaCBurton.

Reasons Why Every Hotel Should Have a Blog

It’s as true of travel research as it is of Christmas shopping: more and more people are doing it online. That’s why, for companies in the hospitality industry, a solid online presence is crucial.

Hoteliers can now use the web to engage with users who are already interested in finding a place to stay.

And, through a blog, you can promote your brand, connect with guests and provide a wealth of information about your hotel and its location.

Are you taking advantage of this powerful marketing tool? Does your hotel have a blog?

Here key benefits of having a hotel blog, as well as tips for successfully maintaining and promoting it!

Key Benefits of Hotel Blogging

A hotel blog fulfills many different benefits:

Instant Feedback from Guests

Blogs allow for instant personal feedback—something that’s at the very heart of hospitality. With a blog, any of your past, current or potential customers will be able to read and respond to posts right away, giving you their thoughts.

Compared with typical ways of gaining feedback from guests—hotel response cards, market research, email surveys—blogging is faster, easier and more cost-effective.

What’s more, it allows you to create an online discussion that may clue you in to what your guests are wanting, helping you improve your service.

Online Concierge for Guests

A blog can enhance the services you’re able to provide guests, such as helpful information and resources about your accommodations and about the area. B

logging makes it easy to promote events, both at your hotel and in the community; to announce upcoming festivals or town activities; feature local businesses, from restaurants to shopping to entertainment; and more, all in a way that’s easy for visitors to find and to which they can relate.

Higher Search Rankings

Companies outside the hospitality industry understand this well—you don’t have to look hard to find quality blogs about obscure B2B topics. These businesses are regularly producing quality content. Why? Simply put, because it works, providing the kind of greater online credibility and authority that means higher rankings in search engines and greater exposure for related search terms.

How to Maintain and Promote Your Hotel Blog

Looking at all blogging has to offer, it only makes sense to get started. What do you need to know? And once you start posting, how can you promote it? Here are a few tips.

Post Regularly

Keeping your blog updated is key to keeping it interesting both to visitors and to search engines because every time you publish a new post, search engines crawl your blog.

Decide what kind of blogging schedule works for you—three posts a week? three posts a day? Establish a pattern and be consistent about it. Likewise, you may wish to enlist the help of a reliable Internet marketing agency in keeping your blog current.

Engage with Visitors

In the hospitality industry, it’s great when blogs can become places of discussion. Ask questions, encourage feedback and, whenever people comment on your blog, respond to them.

Likewise, hunt out people to initiate conversations with online—people who are Tweeting about your hotel, bloggers who’ve written about it, etc.

Promote Your Blog Offline

To make your online efforts most effective, you’ll want to let your guests know you’re online. Add links to the blog on marketing materials, info packets, sign-in sheets or anywhere else that guests could notice it.

Promote Your Blog Online

Create a prominent link from your main website to your blog so it’s easy for visitors to find it when they research your site. Likewise, link to your blog from your online profiles on Facebook, Twitter and other channels.

In the rapidly developing online world, there’s no better time to start a blog than now. How could blogging improve your business? And what are you waiting for?

This guest post was contributed by Shanna Mallon. Shanna is a writer for Straight North, a Chicago Web design firm that specializes in social media, SEO, web development and other Internet marketing services. She writes for clients in diverse industries, from makers of rolled angles to the specialists behind a clean room pressure monitor. Check out the Straight North Blog, or follow @StraightNorth on Twitter. 

Major Hotels Collaborate on Search Engine

RoomKey.com is a new search engine exclusively for hotels.

A team of experienced hospitality management professionals have partnered with several major hotel brands to provide this new, unique search-and-booking experience.

Room Key was founded by Choice Hotels International, Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott International, Inc. and Wyndham Hotel Group, part of the Wyndham Worldwide Corporation, or their respective affiliates, and Best Western just jumped on-board as well.

Room Key Hotel Search Engine

Room Key’s mission is to provide travelers direct access to a broad network of hotels around the globe, provide accurate and comprehensive information and make it more efficient for travelers to discover what’s right for them.

While the site has big goals, there are several reasons it may flounder a bit.

First, it only features results for the hotel brands it represents, leaving out many other plausible options a user may be interested in. This is a big deal considering there are numerous other hotel booking sites that aggregate a larger variety of hotels.

It also is currently only available for travel to the US, and doesn’t really incorporate any social components, which could be a mistake with the ever-increasing social media landscape broadening its inclusion of user reviews and friend feedback.

Would you use Room Key to search for a hotel room?

Travel for Good with The Good Night Foundation

The Good Night Foundation

The holiday season is the perfect time to think about natural ways to give back. The Good Night Foundation is a non-profit organization that partners with leading hoteliers to raise money to support local and global programs. Since the organization began in 2008, The Good Night Foundation has raised over $367,000.

How it Works

At partner hotels, a $3 charitable donation is added to each guest’s nightly charge. The Good Night Foundation addresses global challenges by funding programs focused on health, education, poverty alleviation and the environment. Furthermore, 50% of The Good Night Foundation’s proceeds remain in the community in which they were collected, supporting an organization selected by the hotel staff, allowing guests to be sure their contributions benefit each community they visit. Guests who do not wish to participate may opt out by contacting their hotel front desk.

Participating Hotels

Stay at these partner hotels to have funds from your stay go toward worthy causes:

If you’re interested in becoming a partner hotel, visit the website for contact information. There is no cost to participate, and it’s a great way to aid worthy cause and create positive  buzz about your property.

Surfing Social Networks for Unique Local Artists

Hilton Anaheim Murals
Hilton Anaheim
, Orange County’s largest hotel, and MUZEO, Southern California’s newest museum, recently joined forces to find and commission three talented muralists for the unique opportunity to have their work seen. A panel of judges led by MUZEO and Hilton Anaheim’s executive committee made the final decisions.

The stylized vacationers represent the brushwork of Apple Valley, California-based artist Robin Knilans Morrow, who has been working as a professional artist for more than 20 years. Los Angeles, California-based artist Gus Harper, who has been working as a professional artist for more than 12 years, painted the surfers.  The talented muralist behind the realistic images of birds, shells and other life by sea is Anaheim-based Piccolo Batlle.  He has been working as a professional artist for more than 20 years.

Located at the hotel’s main pool entrance, on the patio, and at the towel shack, the murals illustrate the theme line, OC Forever Summer , in keeping with Southern California’s mild climate and forever summertime attitude. Commissioning the murals also conveys the community’s welcoming spirit and reflects the Hilton’s efforts to develop a progressive community within the local arts district.

Brilliantly rendered images of seaside life, colorful stylized human figures actively enjoying their vacations and surfers riding the big waves now decorate the newly renovated outdoor pool area at the main pool entrance, at the Pool Bar and Grill wall plus the towel shack. More than $1 million was spent in renovating the area, including adding a giant water bucket, a poolside lounge, grilling station and more.

The hotel utilized social media to help draw entries for the contest via a custom Facebook tab outlining the initiative and allowed artists to download relevant forms and specifications. This help make the submission process easier and allowed entrants of those who might know some the ability to conveniently access all information from a single place. More simply, it also allowed further publicity of the contest.

What other unique contests have you seen hotels run online?

Win a Vacation with Your Awkward Family

Embassy Suites Hotels is currently running an “awkward family photo” contest offering a two-week vacation and $15,000 to the family that submits the most awkward photo. The winning family can stay at either the Embassy Suites Lake Tahoe, Embassy Suites Waikiki Beach Walk or Embassy Suites Charlotte Concord.

In a collaboration with AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com, the hotel brand is encouraging families to submit their most hilarious shots. The gallery is already full of 200 pages of laugh-out-loud submissions.

awkard family photo

“The agency [Emanate, based in New York City] pitched the idea to me and I immediately thought it was a great idea,” Maggie Giddens, director of brand public relations at Embassy Suites said. “About 40% of our customers are leisure customers traveling with their families. It just seemed like a great audience to talk to during the summer travel months.”

Giddens said the tone of the promotion was consistent with other Embassy Suites promotions, such as the “Business Travel Blunder” essay contest in 2009.

Contests like this are great because they encourage “audience” participation, and people are going to share the link around simply based on the fact it’s entertaining.

What are other funny promotions you’ve come across online?

Luxury Hotels Checking-in to Foursquare

The Ritz-Carlton hotel chain is now offering destination advice via Foursquare, making it one of the growing number of luxury brands jumping aboard the geo-location, social media bandwagon.

According to Mashable, “The Ritz-Carlton’s Foursquare profile now includes dozens of tips about local destinations and landmarks from concierges at its 75 hotels — extending advice previously available only to patrons to anyone with a Foursquare account.”

By doing this, Ritz is making convenient for guests to access a slew of information directly from their smartphones rather than waiting for the guest to seek it out. This is awesome customer service in that it demonstrates proactivity and care in regard to helping visitors get the  most out of their vacations. There’s also the matter of exclusivity being broadened here, in regard to the hotel itself, which could aid in growing Ritz’s fanbase beyond its regular constituents.

This is also big deal in that it emphasizes Ritz-Carlton’s acknowledgment of growth of the decreasingly social and mobile customer. As was also demonstrated by Starwood Hotels‘ recent integration of incentives for Foursquare check-ins, larger luxury brands are no longer “too good” to partake in social trends.

Use Your Vocal Talents for Free Hotel Stays

Well, it’s that time of year. We’ve recently crowned another American Idol and fans have shown how passionate they can be cheering on prospective talents and casting their votes accordingly.

For singers who may not have the opportunity to make it onto a hit TV singing competition, there’s a unique new opportunity for travelers.

Joie de Vivre (which means “joy of life”) strives to create innovative hospitality services and products, and has designed numerous one-of-a-kind boutique hotels, restaurants and spas.

Their latest initiative, “Singing for an Upgrade,” transforms the standard hotel check-in process into a musical experience: At several Southern California hotels, guests are encouraged to sing in hopes of receiving an upgrade on their reservation as well as be put up for vote American-Idol style against other “competitors.”

Shorebreak Hotel in Huntington Beach and Pacific Edge Hotel in Laguna Beach are among participating Orange County properties, while Hotel Angeleno in Brentwood and Hotel Erwin in Venice are among the Los Angeles ones. Each hotel will offer a variety of songs and singers are allowed to read lyrics as they perform.

There will be a daily prize for the first guest to sing a specific song each day, and performances will also be captured on video then uploaded to YouTube and Facebook. There, people can vote for their favorites and the selected winners will receive a two-night stay. Even if an upgrade has already been redeemed for a specific day, guests will still be eligible to enter the video contest and will have the chance to win the grand prize, which will be awarded in October.

Would you sing for an upgrade?

The Live Concierge

Many travelers still depend on hotels themselves to tend to the intricacies of their vacations, and there’s a new service that’s taking  the vacation-planning process online in an authentic way.

The Live Concierge provides hotels with the chat functionality and necessary labor to interact with each prospective guest who visits a hotel’s website.
The “tech savvy traveler” reserves their accommodations online and will now try to manage as many of the details there as possible. This attractive service allows for such a traveler to ask any questions they have regarding the hotel (general information, availability, room rates and area information, etc.) to a live person rather than having to call and wait on hold. With allowing their perspective guests to chat with an agent live, it heightens the likelihood that they’ll book at the hotel.

It’s also beneficial for hotels because very few have the associates to dedicate to such a task, and The Live Concierge provides the labor involved to engage in conversation via state-of-the art chat technology.

Hotels that have taken advantage of The Live Concierge have recognized an increase in sales and pre-arrival guest satisfaction. Should a hotel opt to utilize this service, it provides a live chat online for guests.

Contact The Live Concierge for more information.

Roger Smith Hotel Creating a Culture of Content

Hospitality marketer Josiah Mackenzie recently posted an ReviewPro article about how New York’s Roger Smith Hotel has created a “culture of content and reached social media celebrity status.”

He notes that the hotel has created a culture where “everyone becomes a content generator.” They’ve done this via hosting events, participating in other local events, involving various people and brands, hyper-local stories and face-to-face connections.

The review is great and outlines the hotel’s specific goal and how it actively, continuously reaches it and engages other people. They’re strategies and aggressive inclusion of community is awesome.

The article, though, seems to focus on in-person happenings, and so I decided to peruse their online persona because, while they’ve set an excellent example, many hotels may not yet have the resources to go as “big” as  Roger Smith has, and starting online would be a great first first step for those venues.

One of the first things I noticed about Roger Smith’s Twitter account was their description. Rather than highlight any specifics of the property, they list: “The Roger Smith Hotel is a hub for social media in NYC. People. Art. Food. Wine. For Special Twitter rates on Rooms: http://bit.ly/RSrooms.”

By identifying themselves as a hub for NY social media rather than an overnight stop for potential visitors, they’ve made themselves much more broadly appealing since there’s inevitably going to be more people seeking out general NYC news and happenings than there are going to be people specifically looking for hotel information. They also throw in the other topics they’ll discuss: people, art, food and wine. “People,” specifically, throws in a really human element. Plus, the other three are the kinds of widely adored interests are going to appeal to anybody and everybody. Then, to appeal to the potential traveler, they’ve created a special Twitter rate, thus blatantly offering an incentive for the potential visitor to follow the account. This is a great strategy!

They’ve also integrated their Twitter feed directly onto their homepage, illustrating to any site visitor how they’re actively engaging people online.

When I went over to Facebook, I noticed many of their posts linked to a special hotel blog, http://rogersmithlife.com/. The subsection of which is “The Life of a New York Life Hotel.” Again, this straightforward personification allows people to interact with the hotel in a very different and authentic way they would normally. There’s also a banner near the top outlining a special 10% off blog rate, again incentivizing those that partake.

They also offer a Facebook deal for those who check in, and their Facebook page is also replete with a “reservations” page where guests can make dining reservations right there, along with a Foursquare page allowing people to view a list of “tips” from peers who’ve visited the hotel and checked in on Foursquare.

There’s probably much more other hotels could take away from Roger Smith, but, from the previous article as well as just their Twitter, Facebook and Blog presence, they’re definitely setting a stellar example when it comes to authentically engaging consumers.