Empowering Hotels to Make Guests Feel Welcome With Social
In 1967, Paul Dubrule and Gerard Pelisson founded the Societe d’investissement et d'exploitation hôteliers (SIEH) hotel group and opened the first Novotel hotel in northern France. From this first location in Lille, France, AccorHotels has grown to be a worldwide brand, with more than 4000 hotels in 95 countries, across five continents.
In AccorHotels’ 50 years of business – a lot has changed in the hotel industry. Social media has become a dominant channel for our customers, both in researching their travel decisions – around 77 percent of travelers look for their next vacation destination on social media – but also for sharing their experiences. Vacation photos are no longer tucked away in family photo albums, they’re shared on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, giving their networks access to their travel memories, and with it, a look at our worldwide properties. These days, one third of travelers publish photos of their travels on social during their stay.
Sharing photos is not the end of the story for the impact social has in hospitality – it provides an opportunity to communicate with customers at every point of their travel process.
AccorHotels supports the customer journey through seven steps: dream, select, book, prepare, stay, share, and return. Guests are turning to social, to seek information, assistance and support, before, during and after their visit. At any location around the world, a guest is as likely to use Twitter to lodge a complaint, as pick up the phone to speak to the front desk; and they are just as likely to share their experiences of their stay on their feed, as by word of mouth.
Across its 4,000 properties, the AccorHotels’ company motto is: ‘Feel welcome.’ This guiding principle applies to all brands and locations, and is a sentiment that needs to come across in social programming and channels, which consists of more than 4,000 Facebook pages, managed by local teams and hotels.
While we identified the strength and necessity of a strong social presence, it was clear that the hotel’s online properties were very isolated and independent from one another – while others were not utilizing social channels to full capacity. We needed to create a social solution that enabled our hotels to engage with their customers, while maintaining a consistent brand voice for AccorHotels.
Partnering with Hootsuite, the social media management platform, we created the AccorHotels Social Desk, a global tool aimed at enhancing our social presence at every stage of the customer journey. It was built around three pillars: the ‘inspiration platform’, which features example content to inspire our hotels; a training platform, providing teams with access to education to obtain skills to effectively and efficiently manage their social networks; and a management tool for the hotels, empowering all hotels to manage, build, grow and analyze their social media presence.
The Social Desk provides inspiring, branded content that can be easily adapted and localized. By using Hootsuite Amplify that content is distributed to hotel managers who can adapt the content for local audiences with the push of a button. Hotels can also identify potential customers, monitor guest chatter on social and respond in real time. To that end, one priority was to have all of our teams plugged into the Social Desk. Our Customer Care teams use this tool alongside our marketing, social media teams and agencies.
The Social Desk gives our local hotels an opportunity to engage with their communities, and in turn, increase revenue and customer engagement, driving loyalty and positive feedback from their guests.
In creating this initiative, a primary goal for the initial 12-month period was to increase social media maturity across all departments. By bringing everyone in the AccorHotels family to a similar level with training, consistent content, and social management, we can offer a consistent experience across our global hotels. At the current phase of this pilot, around 200 regional users from AccorHotels teams and their agencies are utilizing Hootsuite Enterprise to drive the adoption and evolution of the Social Desk initiative with our properties around the globe.
We have an ambitious goal for the Social Desk – 100 percent of our hotels becoming active on social media. In the initial year of the pilot, we achieved 1,500 active Facebook pages, more than doubling our pages from the previous year. Social following has grown from 4.5 million to 10 million people. In the last year and a half, hotels that actively post content to their Facebook pages has risen from 18 percent to 51 percent.
This massive increase in adoption is the first indicator of success, as our hotels have the access to content, education and encouragement to drive their business through social. One of our hoteliers, Alexander Rudnik, Hotel Manager of Mercure Hotel, Frankfurt, commented, “The Social Desk provides an opportunity for hotel managers to increase revenue, engagement, and positive feedback from their guests. I encourage all other hotels to join.” As we continue to learn from this initiative and adapt the Social Desk tool to complement the needs of our hoteliers, teams and customers, we have no doubt we’ll get very close to our 100 percent mark.
AccorHotels also has its ‘Thank you score’, a measurement of customer happiness on social media. In every social interaction – from a general inquiry to a complaint – the goal is for the conversation to conclude with a message from the customer, indicating a happy resolution to their question. AccorHotels Social Desk enables real-time, impactful conversations with customers that welcome guests at every step, earning a warm ‘Thank you’ along the way.