Case Study: Apex HotelsManaging Social Media And Online Reputation On ABrand Level For A Group of Hotels! Case Study: Apex Hotels, July 2011!
About Apex HotelsApex Hotels is an innovative group of sevencity hotels based in the UK. “Knowing ourbrand position as a group of contemporary,luxurious city-center hotels helped us withour social media strategy and content,” saidSam Weston, who along with Amy Spark,share some of their thoughts on how tomanage social media at the brand level fora group of hotels.! Case Study: Apex Hotels, July 2011! 1!
How Apex Hotels Uses TwitterApex Hotels began using Twitter in March The Apex brand doesnʼt have a rigid tone of2009. While this was a little later in the voice for Tweeting, despite their accountgame than some of their larger competitors, being administered by three separatethey wanted ensure they had the time and individuals. They do, however, have a clearresources available to manage it effectively. understanding of what is acceptable to“An unmonitored and stagnant Twitter broadcast, and try to avoid controversialaccount can do more harm than good for a subjects or appearing too opinionated.brand.”! Messages are intentionally light, friendly! and informative to abide by what they see as one of the most overlooked principles ofSince joining the network, Apex has social media: conversation. “We like toincreasingly used Twitter as a method ofengaging with guests and like-minded appear approachable to questions andindividuals. They also see a big opportunity enquiries about our hotels, the cities inin engaging with other businesses.! which we operate and the products we offer.”!! !“Twitter offers us an invaluable feedbackchannel for both positive and negativecomments, although Iʼm pleased to say wereceive mostly positive feedback! Peopleseem much more inclined to offer feedbackin 140 characters than via longer channels.Often, it provides valuable insight into whatweʼre doing well within Apex, or where wemight be able to improve.”! Case Study: Apex Hotels, July 2011! 2!
Different Accounts for Different PurposesApex has one main Twitter account that Amy Spark also maintains a proﬁle – “We chose not to tweet this to our maincovers all their hotels: @apexhotels.! @apexafﬁliates – to offer guidance to proﬁle too much as we didnʼt want to have! participants of the Apex Hotels afﬁliate an overly corporate-sounding proﬁle, and network (through Afﬁliate Window and prefer a more informal, friendly approach.”!“We chose to run one main proﬁle rather Buy.at). They ﬁnd this to be a very helpfulthan an individual account for each hotel togive us the best possible chance to reach way to communicate latest promotions andas many as we can through Twitter. We also offers that these afﬁliates can promote andwanted to ensure consistency in our brand earn additional sales commissions. It alsomessage: we didnʼt want a whole host of offers a two way channel for them to hear feedback on what offers theyʼd like to seepeople from different areas of our business from the hotels in the future.!having access to Twitter and potentiallycausing a PR disaster here and there!”! ! !! Additionally, Apex is experimenting with a Twitter proﬁle for their sales team –Apex built a separate Twitter account fortheir HR team – @apexcareers – which is @apexsales. The purpose is to provide theirused to offer advice and guidance to sales team with an opportunity to engagepotential applicants. This account also directly with corporate clients and keyoffers recruitment and CV tips. “Engaging industry members within the sales and marketing world. This account enables themwith the wider recruiting world ensures thatApex maintains an excellent standard of to tweet slightly more corporate messages,service by employing the right people at the since the target audience is familiar withvery top of their game.”! hospitality terminology, meetings and events promotions, and so on. !! !! Case Study: Apex Hotels, July 2011! 3!
Monitoring and Responding on TwitterApex Hotels monitors social media Apex Hotels monitors mentions of theirchannels using various tools such as hotel names and speciﬁc @mentions too.ReviewPro to ensure their team is aware of They created saved searches to monitorwhat is being said about their brand: chatter about the cities in which theyacknowledging both the positives and operate: London, Edinburgh and Dundee. negatives, and responding where required. This might be as simple as any mention of“Itʼs easy to ignore the negatives, but in our ʻdo you know + Edinburghʼ to more targetedexperience a problem ignored often hotel and restaurant queries. “An examplebecomes more difﬁcult to deal with in the of what weʼll ﬁnd could be as simple aslong run and has an almost snowball effect ʻwhats the weather like in Edinburgh?ʼ – or itas it gathers momentum through re-tweets could be detailed questions about attractionand social media chatter.”! prices and opening times.”!! Regardless of whether the person askingAt the same time, the team celebrates the question is staying at Apex, they willpositive feedback from guests through re- respond if they have the time. The reason istweets and comments. “Itʼs a great qualiﬁer that even if theyʼre staying with thefor people considering staying at their hotels competition this time, theyʼll hopefully followif independent comments on Twitter (and of @ApexHotels and perhaps remember thecourse through various online reviews) Apex brand for next time.!reﬂect our brand positively.”!!!!! Case Study: Apex Hotels, July 2011! 4!
Types of Content That Work Best on TwitterApex ﬁnds that gathering content for Twitter “Of course, weʼre a business too, so we do The time of day they try to publish tweetsis often an organic affair – coming from tweet our offers, although we try to keep to varies. “We do try and tweet during thesocial media discussions about the cities a rough ratio of 1:10 (1 offer per 10 tweets). evening on occasion, as well as during thethey operate within, hotels and hospitality in From using Twitter personally, it seems that standard 9-5. A good example was thegeneral. They also ﬁnd ideas from within the many companies tweet almost all offers and recent bad weather in November andcompany – from any department. ! I ﬁnd, again personally, that I stop reading December of last year. With the weather“Occasionally events will happen at the their tweets in the stream, or scan past changing every 10 minutes and peoplesʼhotel that weʼre unaware of, so we do ask them. I think originality is important and the travel plans being constantly interrupted, westaff to contribute when they see something catch of a good tweet, or a different Tweet is tweeted a special offer in the evening sothat is social media worthy.” In the near often the difference between being that if they were stuck in London, Edinburghfuture, Apex is looking at establishing acknowledged or ignored.”! or Dundee and didnʼt have somewhere toʻchampionsʼ at each property who will report ! stay, we were on hand to help. Flexibility ison local activity and take quick snapshots to probably one of the most useful things with The Apex team tries to tweet every day, andpost online. This will further establish the they monitor their accounts frequently to social media. Some brands seem to beconnection between the on and ofﬂine.! constrained by a rigid and formulaic ensure messages arenʼt left unanswered. approach and personally I think that can! Responsibility for creating responses is split up among the team by day so that one seriously impact on the value a company,Competitions on Twitter – asking followers and the people following that company willto re-tweet messages or contribute to person isnʼt left to manage the account themselves. “This provides a little variety get out of the relationship, out of thediscussions – has been very effective in conversation itself.”!engaging with followers. “Maybe itʼs and new ideas for tweeting. It ensures theprimarily because thereʼs an opportunity to content is always fresh, on brand and fun.”!win a break at one of our hotels, but often it !spins into discussion between other Twitter !users.”! ! Case Study: Apex Hotels, July 2011! 5!
The Apex Strategy for FacebookApex Hotels began building their Facebook Trackable links are created for both After a few years of experimenting with bothpresence in early 2009. Facebook has, of Facebook and Twitter to see which content social networks, Amy ﬁnds they can getcourse, evolved their business proﬁles is most popular on each. “Particularly on away with posting more content per day onsigniﬁcantly since then – making them work Facebook, we ﬁnd very corporate sales Twitter than on Facebook. “The nature ofmore like personal proﬁles. “We ﬁnd it has messages cause people to ʻunlikeʼ the page Twitter is more fast-paced and people arebecome a very good way for us to engage or unsubscribe from updates. Currently 6% used to receiving lots of short messages.with existing guests, along with potential of our fans are unsubscribed from receiving However, with Facebook, we try not to postnew ones.” Apex Hotels now has over 3500 our updates in their news feeds and we more than once a day as we ﬁnd peopleʻlikesʼ on their main brand proﬁle, which is obviously want to keep this percentage as start to unsubscribe, probably because theygrowing quickly. As with Twitter, they low as possible”! feel bombarded.”!created additional proﬁles that are managed ! !by their spa and HR departments. These As with Twitter, Apex prefers to stick to a And as with Twitter, Facebook is also usedmore speciﬁc pages have also built a solid friendly tone, and focus on competitions, to answer customer queries and collectfollowing.! photos and video, and events in the cities. feedback, which is passed on to the hotel! “Itʼs more about keeping people engaged managers. They notice the majority of theApex has seven hotels located across three with the brand so that they remember us feedback they receive through Facebook iscities in the UK: London, Edinburgh and when they need to book a hotel, rather than positive, but if they do receive anythingDundee. They created a main Apex Hotels trying to sell to them right away.”! negative itʼs important this is addressed andpage for the group as a whole, which is ! ! resolved as soon as possible.!where they publish content about the hotel ! !group, the individual hotels and restaurants, !and the cities where the hotels are located.! !! !! ! Case Study: Apex Hotels, July 2011! 6!
Sourcing Content for PublishingAll staff members at Apex are encouraged Content That Draws The Best Response!! Each hotel offers a different colored duckto keep the social media team up to date ! ! that can be collected. Fans can also namewith news from the hotels and surrounding the new duck whenever a new hotel opens.! “Competitions and prize draws are by fararea. All team members, especially those our most popular posts. Offering a hotel Timing also plays a big role in theworking on the front lines with guests, can break as a prize give us the opportunity to responses they receive. “We ﬁnd thatbe a huge resource. Additionally, the social showcase our properties, which generates posting on Friday afternoon and on themedia team looks out for current events and interest in them without sending out a sales weekends gives us double the impressionsoccasions in their three locations. Alerts are message that will put people off. ”! of posting at other times of the week, so weset up to pick up items of interest, such as Photos and video also work very well, save their best posts for the end of theshows, festivals, exhibitions, and so on.! especially on Facebook. The Apex team week.”!Local businesses that the hotels work with publishes new photography, hotel videos,also provide a source of content. “Building and TV advertisements, which are alwaysrelationships with other companies through popular. Facebook fans and members of thesocial media gives us access to more hotelsʼ online community are alsodiscounts, competitions and useful encouraged to post photos.!information for our fans.”! !! The mascot for Apex Hotels – the Apex! Duck – has also worked very well for them.! “Guests receive a branded rubber duck in! their rooms when they stay at the hotels.! People collect them and take photos of them all over the world. We have a! competition where the best photo of the! year wins a hotel break.” ! Case Study: Apex Hotels, July 2011! 7!
More Thoughts on Facebook“It is difﬁcult to track the exact monetaryvalue as people may hear about us throughFacebook, but then book using anothermethod. We can trace bookings that havecome directly from facebook.com throughGoogle Analytics and in the last year wehave had 28 transactions, but we believethe untracked total to be much higher thanthis.”!!For Apex, the main purposes of theirFacebook presence are the following:!• To maintain a relationship with previousguests!• To attract new guests throughrecommendations from friends!• To keep people engaged and interested inwhat Apex is doing as a company!• To see what other hotels and companiesare up to!“Facebook is changing and developing allthe time and we look forward to newmarketing opportunities as they arise.”! Case Study: Apex Hotels, July 2011! 8!
How Apex Hotels Manages Online ReputationHow online reviews affect travelers “Potential guests are more likely to trust How Apex Hotels became one of guestsʼtoday! other travellers opinions, rather than relying favorite hotels! ! on what hotels say on their own websites,” ! added Amy. For these reasons, the teamApex Hotels ﬁnds that their guests use Apex Hotels puts a lot of emphasis on sees user generated content is verysocial media throughout the buying process. selecting central locations for their hotelsThis begins when they ask their friends for important as part of their hotel marketing and creating a great product, so a certaintravel recommendations on Twitter, look at strategy.! amount of the positive reviews they receivephotos of hotels, and use other social media ! happen organically. A strong emphasis issites to plan their trip. During their stay at an ! made on service delivery and the quality ofApex hotel, the guest may interact with Amy ! the product. Since London is a veryand Sam on Twitter @ApexHotels. And then ! competitive market, this requires continualafter leaving the hotel, many of these improvement to stay ahead.!guests like to share feedback about their ! !stay. Social media is important at each ! The General Manager at each propertystage of the travel process.! ! keeps a careful eye on all feedback ! ! received, so if there are any areas that need“The quickly emerging importance of online ! improvement, quick action is taken. Whilereview sites is clear,” said Sam Weston. ! perfection may be constantly moving target,“People go to a hotel website, and read ! the Apex team works constantly to get asthrough the text, but they often try to go close as possible.!beyond marketing speak and look for !qualiﬁed reviews from real guests.” ! !! !! ! Case Study: Apex Hotels, July 2011! 9!
Encouraging Guests to Share Content OnlineThe staff at Apex asks for feedback from all “Encouraging reviews ultimately has to be ! Real-time media like this allows for real-timeguests – both through online reviews and an organic process that is the result of other service – putting power back into the handstheir own internal questionnaires. Business factors of the experience you create. If of hoteliers, and allowing them to take morecards were created to hand out and people have a good stay, theyʼll leave you a control of their online reputation.!encourage guests to review the hotels. good review,” said Sam. “The principle !Post-stay emails provide another behind online reviews and social media isopportunity to ask for these reviews. But itʼs transparency and trust. If you can instill thatimportant to note that Apex does not trust, then you are going to get repeatincentivize online reviews in any way. Even business.” !aside from the legal and ethical !implications, Sam and Amy recognize that Apex Hotels has also worked to create ahotels that try to game the system are very approachable guest services team.missing the whole point of online reviews.! During the check in process, guests are ! encouraged to contact these people for anyNaturally encouraging a positive online help needed during their stay. Providingreputation has side beneﬁts. “Many of our clear channels for communication – bothguests ﬁnd us through review websites, and online and off - reduces the number ofthis means theyʼre also more likely to back situations that may lead to a negativeto these sites and write a review after their review. Many times guests that raise anstay.” said Amy. They see a snowball effect issue through Twitter, for example, arehappening here: the more they optimize pleased with how quickly they receivetheir online reputation and encourage responses. !people to check review sites as part of their !buying process, the more online reviews !they get. ! Case Study: Apex Hotels, July 2011! 10!
Involving Everyone In The ProcessFor Apex, improving quality and guest The general managers keep their teams upsatisfaction is a team sport. For hotel to date on how theyʼre performing accordinggeneral managers, it was essential to have to the Global Review Indextm – ReviewProʼsa centralized portal for reviews and benchmark measurement of online quality.reputation. While they understand the vital Negative and positive feedback is alwaysimportance of guest feedback, they have shared with the team. Sharing thesevery limited time. “Having a tool that quicklyreviews can be a great morale booster, andshows a complete view of how their hotel is encourages the team to continue doingperforming online means that they now great work.!have more time to spend actually improving !the services offered by the hotel.” !! To encourage remarkable service, Apex ! Hotels has an incentive in place to reward“ReviewPro is an exceptional tool to bring staff members that are mentioned by nameall online reviews together in one place, and in an online review. “This really encouragesoffers our managers an opportunity to ﬁlter our entire team to work hard and providereviews, quickly analyze the positive and great service,” said Amy. !negatives, and perhaps identify little areas !of improvement. And then the tool allowsthem to quickly assign tasks so all levels ofthe business are involved. Each of ourgeneral managers is actively usingReviewPro, but each department manager– from the restaurants to the housekeepingdepartment – also has access.”! ! Case Study: Apex Hotels, July 2011! 11!
Why Apex Hotels chose ReviewPro “!Sam and Amy considered various Semantic analysis has become areputation management options, but the fundamental part of determining marketinglack of comprehensive, hotel-speciﬁc strategy. “It enables us to instantlyreporting meant that nothing that really mettheir needs until they found ReviewPro. understand our unique selling propositions – from the guestsʼ perspective.” For ReviewPro was“ReviewPro was the best ﬁt for what wewanted to achieve.”! example, the team realized their location is much more important to guests than their the best ﬁt for ! food offerings, so they played this up in their collateral. “Semantic analysis ensures we what weReviewProʼs ability to export data becamevery helpful as the team integrated and are connecting with our audience, and communicates what they are looking for.” ! wanted tocross-analyzed online reputation data withinternal surveys and other business ! achieve. !performance metrics. “This gave us a “Improving quality and guest satisfaction isholistic view of our hotel operations.”! an ongoing process. Itʼs never going to ! stop. Market conditions change and theReviewProʼs philosophy of constant needs of our guests change. So we willinnovation was also attractive. “We liked continue to monitor all online reviews andthat it was a continually developing product. feedback and incorporate that into our operations so we are always at the top ofSocial technologies are changing veryquickly, and we didnʼt want to be stuck with our game.” !a product that wasnʼt future-proof. So the !fact that ReviewPro is constantly evolvingwith our feedback is very valuable for us.”! ! Case Study: Apex Hotels, July 2011! 12!
Whats next?See how ReviewPro can help you !! ! !! ! !ReviewPro enables hoteliers to efﬁciently ! Keep learning! ReviewPro monitors whataggregate, organize and manage their ! is changing in the world of onlineonline reputation and presence in leading ! reputation management and passes alongsocial media sites. ReviewPro provides practical ways to use that in hospitality.!the analysis, customer intelligence, ! !competitive benchmarking and reporting ! Read the blog for more articles andneeded to help hotel professionals more ! reports like this: effectively manage their organization.! ! http://reviewpro.com/blog! ! ! !! ! Follow us on Twitter for daily ideas and! Get a demo of ReviewPro today ! tips:!! ! http://twitter.com/ReviewPro!! ! !! ! !! ! !! ! !! ! !! ! ! ! Case Study: Apex Hotels, July 2011! 13!