Hospitality is the only industry in the world that faces the customer as he or she is: either after a bad day, or happy to be there; either pretentious and entitled, demanding, or kind and shy as shy can be.
In the past, a lot of the interaction in hospitality happened on-site, face to face, between reception clerks and hotel guests, between restaurant staff and diners, and finally, between the annoyed guest and management. Today, however, interaction extends to a virtual world, the world disregarded by many people as unreal, unimportant, and irrelevant. But relationships online are as real as relationships in the world that surrounds us. It’s time for hospitality pros to treat the people of the social media with the equal care and consideration they treat the guests that physically step into their venues. The people of social media are their next guests or the people who will guide the next guests to their doors.
Introducing the HAPA concept
HAPA means Hospitality, Adaptability, Personas, and Ambassadors. It is a concept developed and coined by Pamil Visions PR.
The Hospitality branch: a hospitable host greets the customers, converses, helps, guides, and strives to please. On social networks these actions translate into starting meaningful conversations about what guests expect, or want to be improved about a hotel; offering insider travel tips; announcing great travel deals, like airfare discounts; informing the guests ahead of time about upcoming festivals and events they may be interested in; promoting local culture and tradition; acting like a virtual concierge; and so on.
Hospitality is the branch that allows you to be creative and to reach out to people for stories that are personal, and matter to them. Like any good host in what you consider real life, which is the tangible part of your business, focusing on people on social media adds the much-needed plus of intangible value your business needs to survive in the age of the engaged.
So, bet on people and their stories. Listen, and engage. Offer a child a piece of fruit, a free meal, or a complimentary toy. Welcome your guests with a hot cocoa in the winter, or a cold lemonade in the hot season. Ask them about their day, train your staff to take pictures and to ask for permission to share them on Instagram, Pinterest, and so on. People love to be engaged, and if you don’t run a “by the hour” establishment, they will often love to share them.
Generation C, Generation X, Baby Boomers – these are all people who pay for your services. They are all so very different. Think pet owners who travel with pets, writers who enjoy solitude, artists, gays, lesbians, and all the different people who want different services and expect (demand) that you offer them.
So how do you satisfy all these different people? Adaptability – that’s how.
Ideally you adapt your story – or status update – to satisfy all these people. This is an impossible task, as each customer is individual. So, adapt to each one of them. You have the medium. Publish status updates that will make pet owners happy. Or updates that speak to business guests, or updates that address festival lovers, or updates for beach buffs – do you see how many story opportunities you have?
Each customer is different, and you already adapt to satisfy each customer in real life. It’s not more difficult to do it with your social PR campaigns if you understand that you are addressing real people. Again: real people. They are not numbers. They are not algorithms. They are human beings at the other end of the line. Just like a telephone call. They talk back if you talk to them.
There’s another side to adaptability: so many social media networks out there. Which one is the right one for you?
They ALL are. Your guests are everywhere. Some social networks perform better than others, but you need to OWN the social profile name (aka your brand) on as many as possible.
What’s truly difficult is adapting to every social network, because what works on one will not always work on another.
The ability to adapt to different online mediums is another key benefit for hoteliers and other hospitality professionals. Just like a hotel changes constantly to meet guest expectations – for example renovating rooms; buying better, smarter technology; redesigning spaces for a plus of chic; becoming more concerned with environmental issues, thus applying for Green Key or other eco-labels; offering healthier choices on their menus; and so on – adapting on social networks is imperative for the success of Social PR.
To adapt is to control the message making it relevant and share-worthy. This involves a good content marketing strategy, which is the foundation of good Social PR. You can always have a professional company create a strategy package for you to make this happen. Again: the best social media PR campaigns are managed in-house, with help from outside companies, because who knows better than your own people what happens inside your hotel? What you don’t know is HOW to manage social PR – and this is where third parties should be employed for guidance and cold starting of your campaigns.
Speaking about individuals they come in all colors: pet owners, business travelers, vegans and vegetarians, backpackers, family men and women, the gender fluidity adepts, and we can continue the list ad infinitum. Smart hoteliers are catering to pets. To vegans. To the odd and daring. So adapt if you want to remain relevant in the industry and to prosper.
To be continued…