A post on Mashable today highlighted Accor Hotels’ decision to publish TripAdvisor reviews, un-moderated, on their hotel websites. As I read this, I tried to imagine the expression on the face of a PR Director I know well were I to suggested his travel company do the same.
At the age of five I mistakenly ate an olive, thinking it was a grape. Same expression.
To me, though, Accor’s decision shows a very astute and mature approach to social media marketing. The vast majority of their reviews are positive, so for the 2-3 people who will be put off by seeing the “Fetid, grimy, hell-hole – NEVER AGAIN!” review, there will be 20-30 who see the “Delightful, special – we’ll be back!” review. That’s a good ratio.
Accor have featured several times at Our Social Times conferences because they have implemented a sophisticated monitoring and social CRM programme across all 4,000 of their hotels (see some of the slides here). Each hotel get’s their own dashboard through which they can track mentions, engage with customers and measure results. There are very few examples of large multinationals adopting social media so comprehensively and in such a root-and-branch way. They’ve clearly got someone smart pulling their social strings.
Similarly, Carnival Cruises, who’s Senior Cruise Director is something of a blogging celebrity, appear in the same Mashable post. If you aren’t familiar with John Heald’s blog, check it out. It’s the most irreverent and silly, yet genuine corporate blog you’ll ever read and it’s become so successful that John now runs special Blogger Cruises for his social media pals.
But it’s not for blogging that they’ve attracted Mashable’s beady eye. Carnival are highly effective at generating positive comments and reviews on their Facebook Page. They post prompting questions, such as “Carnival sails all over the place, but there must be a destination that’s your favorite. Which port would you recommend to a friend? Why?” and invite their Fans to respond.
That specific question managed to generate hundreds of Likes and, interestingly, nearly twice as many comments. They’ve clearly got a handle on exactly what works for their fans. Carnival attribute some of this success down to “social media bragging”, i.e. people boasting about their holidays. They may be right. Presumably, though boastful people like to brag about other things too – new shoes, video games, phones, bikes etc. – so lots of companies could get in on the act.
We saw at SMM11 London last month that, with the support of an innovative agency, low-cost airline bmibaby are taking social media seriously as a PR tool. They partnered with Instagram, a growing but still small and niche photo-sharing service, to run a highly visual and WOM-powered campaign to promote holidays in Italy, and then Germany. That’s real social media mentality. I can’t imagine British Airways PLC partnering with a start-up, no matter how pretty the photos were!
It’s great to see companies like Accor Hotels, Carnival Cruises and bmibaby taking social media to the next level. I know there are thousands of other companies doing the same, but getting out there – doing interviews on Mashable and speaking at conferences – shows yet another degree of sophistication. The smart companies know there are scores of social media marketing bloggers, like me, ready to write about them.