BlogWell: How Big Brands Use Social Media is an amazing series of events presented by SocialMedia.org that features 8 great case studies in corporate social media. To learn more, visit socialmedia.org/blogwell/.
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In her BlogWell Boston presentation, Hilton Worldwide's Director of Social Media Planning and Integration, Vanessa Sain-Dieguez, shares how her team is using social media to extend hospitality beyond the front desk.

Vanessa explains how she worked with multiple different departments and advocates all over the world to establish a Twitter strategy that monitors, responds, and goes above and beyond to assist their customers.
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Below is live coverage of this session:

— Vanessa: We have 10 brands to test and trial new and exciting endeavors. And we are working on extending hospitality beyond the front desk. Vanessa says when you think about the travel industry, travel used to be luxury — now it’s a huge burden. You want to stay in the comfort of home. How can we enhance the experience via social? Vanessa says the reality is our homes have outpaced our hotels. You see beds that are in hotels in homes now. The idea of going to a hotel to relax isn’t there.

— Vanessa: How can we enhance the experience via service instead of features? Our mission is to fill the world with the light of warmth hospitality. How can social help us do that? We’ve always innovated. We’ve had a lot of firsts within the industry. It’s becoming more about service.

— Vanessa shares a photo of a man named Joe. He’s a frequent traveler and he arrives at a hotel and has bad experience at restaurant. He’s super connected and he’s going to share his experience online. We have the opportunity to step in and do something about it. How do we address things being said on social media?

— Vanessa: 70% of companies are still not replying to customer complaints. All of our guests are online talking about our experience so we need a team to address the complaints.

— Vanessa says the reality is someone is tweeting and the organization is uncomfortable. We’ve spent a lot of time educating team that feedback coming in is the same, it’s just on different channels. We have dedicated social media team. It’s doubled in size in two years and is actively monitoring Facebook and Twitter for all brands. They are a 24/7 team.

— Vanessa shares an ideal scenario: Someone checks in, published to Twitter, and is complaining. He’s not tagging us. The team was able to pick up on it and address it. They called hotel and helped him within 20 minutes. The more social media evolves, the better opportunities we have to get to where we address situations like this.

— Hilton took it a step further by understanding what makes Hilton stand out – @hiltonsuggest. Hilton Suggest is proactive, asking for help before people want it.

— Vanessa says every day in social people are asking for travel help. We are hospitality folks, we can offer them an amazing experience.

— Vanessa: We started scouring Twitter and started offering advice. It’s about filling the role in hospitality. We are able to offer them help and give them warm and fuzzy feeling we have in our mission. Not only do we offer recommendations, we suggest an item for them to try.

— Vanessa: How are we doing this? We are 4,000 hotels worldwide. We have advocates around the world, we recruit and train and they tweet for us. They come from a variety of disciplines. If you’re thinking about moving forward with social plans, don’t get distracted by shiny things. There’s so much going on, it’s hard to stay ahead of the curve. We take it back to our mission and what’s going to make us have a better service.

— Vanessa says the sooner you get legal and HR on board the better. Get with your departments, sit down, have a discussion, and you’ll be surprised how receptive they can be. All of these programs required a lot of process and development.

— Vanessa: Not everyone has to be a marketing expert or PR person. Think through existing responsibilities and where social can fit in that. Defining success: A lot of times we get hung up on hard metrics. We need metrics and ROI but don’t lose sight of qualitative.

— Vanessa: Have fortitude. All programs started with an idea. When I brought this up, I was met with a lot of conversations. Don’t be afraid to start small and think big.

— Vanessa: We get really hung up on having the perfect solution when we could be doing things along the way.

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