My wife and I have to be in Cambridge, MA for a dinner in late October. Kayak is my first resort when it comes to online research of domestic or even international travel. (C-G site Trip Advisor is my second.)
While I’m no Peter Greenberg, I happen to find online aggregator Kayak to have the most functional and easy-to-use interface. Searches are easily modified to allow me to pinpoint travel parameters, e.g., ratings, cost, hotel or airline brands, dates…
Anyway, my pre-purchase research on Kayak took me to the Courtyard by Marriott in Back Bay Boston. I then visited the chain’s own site and noticed the ability to “follow” the property on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. How clever. Strangely, a visit to the same property off the main Marriott domain doesn’t permit such socialization.
So who exactly would want to follow a local hotel, and what kind of content does the hotel post to make it worth following or friending? A visit to the hotel’s Facebook page reveals 346 fans, two hand-held video clips (RT’s 1:16 and :21), three photo albums (two with one image apiece, and one with 11 images), a Wall with 14 posts all of which derived from the hotel’s promotion department, or so it seems.
Heading over to the @BostonMarriott Twitter feed, I see that the site has 1127 followers and is following 1224 people. Lots of cross-over here. As for the nature of the tweets, they again seem to emanate from the promotions and come-ons department. No sign of human life anywhere.
On the hotel’s Flickr photostream, we find seven images, all taken on April 24. A search on variations of the property’s name did not produce any other images – consumer-generated or otherwise. And finally, on the Boston Courtyard’s (very green) YouTube channel, we find four hotel-produced videos posted plus 10 favorites (with no apparent relation to the property). The last visit was notched some six months ago.
The purpose of this non-scientific analysis is not to denigrate the social media acumen or strategy of the Boston Courtyard. In fact, the property should be applauded for even endeavoring to establish beachheads in these popular social media channels. The property might also consider blogging. Here’s a link to some reasons why.
I would say, however, that building a presence is merely a beginning, and usually insufficient to drive bookings. In order for social media to accrue to one’s business, it requires care, feeding and, most of all, a human touch. Passion helps too.
To this end, the city of Boston offers an extraordinary palate of culture, sports, education, and gastronomy from which to create a rich and colorful canvas of content. If the hotel’s social media strategist could personally draw from this cornucopia of content, and inspire his or her hotel guests (and others) to contribute, I bet my future Boston hotel searches would more readily lead me to the Boston Courtyard.
Then of course, it’s up to the hotel to deliver on the promise.