Have you ever tried to take part in more than one conversation at the same time? Before long, you confuse who said what, make a few verbal missteps, and wind up with your foot jammed firmly in your mouth.

Imagine how hard it is sifting through social media signals for information that will benefit your business. Thanks to Big Data and the new technologies designed to make sense of it all, the hospitality industry can do exactly that–extract valuable bytes of info, helping them move their business in the right direction.

Here are a few examples of how hospitality leaders have mined valuable nuggets of customer information from social media conversations–enabling them to improve their standing in this competitive marketplace.

1. Wendy’s Restaurants

Fast food chains have come under harsh criticism lately due to fat-laden menus that pack a hefty caloric punch. Wendy’s made an important discovery, simply through social listening. When office workers contemplate going to Wendy’s for lunch, one of their top queries is “How can I go there and not break my diet?”

If this question is left unaddressed, the restaurant runs the risk of losing the client to a perceived healthier venue. Instead, Wendy’s took this nugget of info and created an interactive app that allows users to build their own menus based on nutritional information.

2. Hilton

World renowned Hilton Hotels & Resorts has learned to quarry hot leads on Twitter. By monitoring the social media platform for tweets involving cities that have a Hilton Hotel, they are able to dialogue with potential clientele–fostering a positive brand image. Someone may tweet something like “Anyone know where to get great mojitos in Philly?” This tweet would, then, be funneled to the appropriate Hilton Hotel Employee in Philadelphia who would help the tweeter find a great place to quench that mojito craving.

By providing this type of assistance, the Hilton Hotels chain is able to create a positive reputation as a company who cares–resulting in great word of mouth on social media channels and face-to-face, and the potential for new clientele.

Not sure how to utilize Big Data in your business? Check out How to Unlock Big Data’s Potential.

3. Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts

Large hotel chains that conduct business all around the globe have to navigate a variety of political climates. And, sometimes, they find themselves–and their guests–in dangerous situations. The Shangri-La chain of hotels has found a way to use social media listening to glean valuable information during times of unrest.

After the October 15, 2013 bombing of the chain’s “Traders Hotel” in Yangon, Myanmar, the company was able to monitor social media using Radian6 for chatter about the situation. As a result, they were able to manage the mayhem, ensure the safety of their staff and clientele, and receive information in real-time.

4. KLM

The Dutch Airline, KLM, has employed Radian6 to keep an ear on social media and Chatter to communicate data back to their social media hub, which consists of over 100 staff.

KLM’s sizeable social media hub was born in 2010, when the airline found itself grounded due to the Icelandic ash cloud. This highly successful program now sifts through over 30,000 messages each week, sorts them by language, and assigns them to the appropriate social media agent. This is done around the clock, every day of the week. The company promises to respond within an hour–a vow that has earned them a reputation for stellar customer service.

KLM is not the only airline that is putting social listening to good use. Learn how Qantas is using it to improve the service in their airport lounges.

It is imperative that members of the hospitality industry learn to manage and decipher Big Data. After all, when it comes to customer data, there is no such thing as too much. You can never know your clientele too well. And you can never dig up too much dirt on the competition.

Which social media platform do you think would yield the most useful data? Why?

This post was contributed by Kimberley Laws, a freelance writer, avid blogger, and social media addict. You can follow her neurotic and OCD ramblings at The Embiggens Project and Searching for Barry Weiss.