Danny Pecorelli, managing director of Exclusive Hotels and Master Innholder (Twitter name: @FoodHero) has been experimenting with the different forms of user-generated content and social networking.
"A huge amount has been made recently of Web 2.0 and user-generated content. How to integrate this into a hotel marketing plan has exercised many a business, ours particularly, so we decided to undertake a number of experiments.
First, we have incorporated a TripAdvisor link on our customer feedback pages, as research shows consumers are starting to trust user-generated content more than glossy corporate sites. The other debate with TripAdvisor is how, when responding to customers' feedback, you can get your company's personality within the framework. There have been some awful examples of hoteliers replying to negative comments that I am sure only make the property look far worse.
We have looked at LinkedIn to help with recruitment; out of all the social networking sites we have found this the least effective. It requires a strong and relevant network of connections, and the most effective use of LinkedIn for recruitment seems to be when doing proactive search and selection. Some of the LinkedIn groups generate a huge amount of e-mails, of which very few are UK-specific.
Facebook is interesting, as the overlap between customers, staff and property isn't clearly defined in many cases. On balance, I'm not sure it has successfully demonstrated tangible results anywhere for hoteliers.
One of the key issues with social networking is the balance of relationships versus marketing. We don't necessarily know if it is imperative that we jump on board straight away with Facebook.
The one that we understand the least, but which could have the most potential is Twitter. An ability to mix good, innovative content with loyalty benefits - especially in local communities, ie, restaurants - can bring rewards. It is also fascinating to see what your clients actively say about your properties while searching on tweets using your properties' names.
With Google's recent move to integrating live feeds from Twitter, we recognise that Twitter is going to become more important to our social media strategy.
The changes in technology and social media are so fluid that you and your organisation's ability in keeping up to date on developments is critical to your ability to manage a strategy in the long run."