Hotel chains ranging from Starwood to Trump have gotten the social media message. In an attempt to steal back travelers from discount sites like Expedia, many hotels are expanding their Facebook presence, and will even let you book a room directly from the page. Plus, you can specify everything from the pillows you prefer to the drinks you want in the minibar.
As the New York Times reports, behind every Facebook Like button is a customer ready to engage with the hotel directly.
“We want to be there when someone transforms the recommendations of their friends into booking a reservation,” said David Godsman, vice president for global Web services for Starwood Hotels. “If they press the ‘Like’ button, we want to start a conversation.” He said he viewed his company’s Facebook pages as a way to extend Starwood’s relationship with its customers “from the 10 days they stay with us, to all year long.” Starwood has Facebook pages for 1,000 hotel properties across its nine brands.
And there’s clearly money to be made from that engagement. The Times quotes a travel research firm that found that “13 percent of social-network users now shop for travel on those Web sites and 35 percent of mobile-phone users expect to book travel on their phones in the next year.”
Hotels are facing a very real threat from Expedia and its brethren (Travelocity, Orbitz and Priceline, etc) — online bookings through the hotels’ web sites increased a mere 5% in the past two years, meaning hotels are leaking cash to the growing army of travel sites.
Other hotels like the Hyatt and the Hilton are also going higher tech, letting you check in and use other services through a mobile app. So you can now check into your hotel on the taxi ride from the airport, and have a meal waiting for you when you arrive. Now that‘s great hospitality.