The hotel that got flustered by my tweet!

Blogs At Velvet Marketing

Last December, my sister posted her location on Facebook indicating that she had just checked-in at a five star hotel in Chicago. So I, being the social media addict, LIKED her location and checked the hotel’s Twitter page.

The hotel’s last tweet indicated that they had just launched a very special menu of Christmas cocktails, so I decided to use twitter to buy my sister one of those and tweeted the hotel to that effect.

After two whole days -a century in cyber time, the hotel replied; they apologised about the delay (as they didn’t see the tweet) and enquired if my sister was still staying at the hotel.

When I immediately responded positively they informed me that they needed to check with the hotel if my request is possible! With the hotel?! I thought I was tweeting the hotel! Obviously not!I had been tweeting a subcontracted third party, who can only send messages but is completely lost when needing to engage in a dialogue that requires approvals. The person behind the tweet explained that my request is so unusual and that they were all flustered by it!

Many tweets later, I went on to send my credit card authorisation form as directed by the person behind the tweet, but in fact my sister never did receive the drink even though she was in the hotel for one whole week! by the end of it all I figured that I deserved the drink much more than she did!

Lon Safko the author of The Social Media Bible said that businesses who fail to include twitter in their marketing efforts, are like those trying to bake a cake with all the ingredients and yet no oven.

Hotels who have a twitter account need to follow experts who discuss food and beverage, subscribe to communities who discuss the industry and form dialogue around their central interest, i.e. hotels, lifestyle, travel and so forth. Yes they will face the ‘unusual’ requests today, but tomorrow this may become the normal request, so it depends how pro-active they wish to be.
Furthermore, twitter is not the mail service, its instant and doesn’t understand working hours, companies need to understand this. No one is interested in a cocktail one week from now in a city where thousands of cocktails are made everyday. Twitter is the here and now communication channel.

Granted, the Japanese girl who tweeted over 36 million tweets (before the company suspended her account) may not be the norm, however with 300 million active monthly users who tweet 500 million tweets per day, twitter has become a powerful tool to share information instantly. A business can take advantage of this fact or can wait 200 million tweets later to respond to a customer, like the hotel in Chicago did.

The instant dimension to this technology has prompted some restaurants in Europe to encourage customers to tweet their food orders; the advantages to the restaurants are very real and include a decreased labour cost, a reduction in human error surrounding order taking (especially due to accents in touristic hubs) and a faster table turn around time.

Spending time and effort to build a twitter community is essential for businesses and should not be left to a part-time third party individual. An abundance of effort is needed to stay relevant and engage in dialogue, but it has an incredible payoff. When the firm has a big announcement or sale the community responds speedily spreading the message through retweets like wild fire, however the first rule of social media is “give to take”, the community will only reward you if you have been active in dialogue but if you only use twitter to push messages, unless you are a celebrity, you can easily become irrelevant.

Companies need to invest in social media experts if they want to stay relevant in the cyber world.