09/11/2014 04:43 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Engaging Customers in the Digital Age


I had lunch the other day with our terrific general managers from select service and extended stay brands known as CFRST - Courtyard, Fairfield Inn and Suites, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites and Towneplace Suites. We talked about social media and how it's changing customer service. As I listened to our general managers, I took notes on some of the new ways to attract and keep guests. In the lingo of social media, I "curated" a top ten list from my notes, including my own item, #10:

1. Service, service, service. Social media lets us help guests faster than ever before. Sometimes guest expectations are too high, but our hotels are doing their best to meet them.

2. Build customer confidence. We need to talk to our customers the way they talk to us.

3. Personalized email "welcomes." General Managers should make a connection and their email signature should link to the social media channels.

4. Respond to all reviews we get. If someone complains on TripAdvisor, let's try to explain the situation. People understand mistakes happen and they appreciate a general manager being upfront, and talking about it.

5. Encourage sharing. Associates hand out TripAdvisor cards for guests to share their experiences during and after a stay.

6. Read competitor reviews. You can gather intelligence and use the information to tailor services to customer needs.

7. Be socially green. Encourage guests to fill out a survey on our green efforts that is posted on TripAdvisor's GreenLeaders site.

8. Listen, not with your ears but with your mouse. Monitor social media channels to keep track of guest stays and to deliver more personalized service.

9. Send an email "thank you." When general managers send the "thank you," link to GuestVoice. It's our own social media-like survey that gives us great feedback.

10. This is mine- BE HUMAN. I still believe that our biggest competitive advantage is a smile -- not a smiley face! We are all human whether in person or online. Technology will change, but thank goodness human nature doesn't.

I'm Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.

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