Everything you do online is leaving a data footprint and this moves across the web as a data trail and reaches your friends, family and even companies that might be interested in it across the globe. When you are dining out with your loved one, attending a friend’s party or just relaxing on a holiday, if you are announcing these events on a social media, know that these might be of interest to more than your social media followers.
Most of the international chain of hotels serving facilities in hospitality and lodging, try to engage with the customers in a better way through the social media posts that the customer sends to the outside world, from within the hotels premises. It is not surprising that Marriott too uses social media to upscale its brand to another level and create a relationship with the customer on a personal basis.
The Marriott has a dedicated team at their headquarters in Maryland, a center they prefer to call as M Live. The team goes through each and every Facebook post, Twitter tweets and Instagram photos, to stay in the midst of things and follow the latest buzz.
With the help of a technology known as geo-fencing, any social post that is sent on a social platform, from the properties premises, can be tracked.
It varies from post to post, whether Marriott wants to use it as a suggestion to improve their service or as a means of increasing customer loyalty and satisfaction.
The Chief Global Marketing officer of Marriott, Karin Timpone, states that if a guest posts a photo of celebrating his or her birthday in one of the Marriott hotels, the company can see the post immediately. In such cases, usually the M Live team reaches out to the reception and informs them of the particular occasion. The hotel might send birthday wishes along with a gift to the particular room. There have been some instances where Marriott hotel gifts a bottle of champagne, a room upgrade or something special, a simple gesture to show how the guests are valued and respected.
The front desk as well as the concierge services team do a great job when it comes to showing hospitality. The M Live team only takes it a little further.
In the words of Timpone, it is all about establishing a long lasting relationship with the customer.
When a guest is unhappy with the service or about something and he/she decides to let the world know, the M Live team will personally have a discussion with the guest.
It is not only about Facebook posts and Twitter feeds. The international brand watches out for latest trends and reacts at a very quick pace. A few days earlier, a user declared on Twitter that he was the first to catch all the Pokemons. The hotel immediately contacted him and he is now being sponsored by Marriott wherein he gets a free stay anywhere in the world.
The chief admits that although the other means of advertising do work, this type of ‘caring for the customer’ is very personal and intimate, which can be had on a one-on-one basis.
The M Live team currently operates in three locations, 2 in US and one in Hong Kong. They keep a track of relevant social posts and trends across all their 4300 properties in the world. The collection and filtering of appropriate posts is achieved via a platform called HYP3R. The team works day in and day out on around 3 lakh posts.
When a well known figure talks about the brand, the hotel receives instant notifications about the same and they try to lengthen the conversation.
If you are an avid traveler and like to talk about it, the M Live team reaches out to you. The company says that these seemingly simple engagements get converted into hotel bookings. This tracking of messages and truly responding to customers, who have a direct relationship with the brand, has lead to a strong bonding with their customers.
Although all this seems impressive and people are fascinated by the attempts shown as a token of appreciation, there exists a big question mark on the security front. In essence, Marriott is making use of geo-fencing which is nothing but keeping an eye on the social media exchanges and discussions. The company maintains that this is done only to improve their existing services and give the guests a better stay in their hotels. In fact, some guests do actually like it when they are engaged in social media by the company.
In spite of this, some users still talk about being stalked. To counter that, Marriott says that they are only reacting to people who said something publicly. An ideal solution to this is if you do not want anybody to monitor you via your posts or photos, do not share anything publicly. You always have the option of changing your privacy settings to private.
Marriott is not the only company that tracks social media posts via HYP3R and geo-fencing. Other popular brands like Disney, Pepsi, the Cedars-Sinai hospital, famous sports teams like NFL, NHL, MLB, NBA are using this technology for interactions with their audiences.
The CEO of HYP3R, Carlos Garcia, says that they indulge only in ethical engagements. They are making an effort to deliver a better experience to the customers, and not selling the information to a third party for some profit.
Despite all these, most people are uncomfortable about the fact that big brand companies have an eye on their social conversations. They do not like the idea of an unseen fence. But in its defense, Marriott claims that customers prefer to be individually recognized by the brand or when their thoughts are shared or re-posted. Customers who are social media savvy are on cloud nine when the company hears them out and shares their views with a larger audience.
What’s your take on Marriot’s way of connecting with their customers? Let us know in the comments below.