Monday, October 26, 2009

The Omni Hotel Understand The Ripple Effect Of Social Media Tools

I think many companies are beginning to learn about how incredibly powerful social media tools like Facebook and Twitter are becoming to manage and monitor the scuttlebutt in and around their brand. I had an opportunity to witness this firsthand this past week.

I arrived in Corpus Chrisiti, Texas shortly after lunch on Thursday afternoon to speak at the South Texas Realtor Conference. After stopping by the facility where I would be speaking the next day and running through normal pre-event logistics I headed over to check in to my hotel. I arrived at the Omni Hotel on North Shoreline Blvd. After some initial issues getting checked in I went up to my room to get settled in.

After putting up all of my clothes and prepping my clothes for the next day (did I mention I am a bit of a control freak about such things?) I fired up my Mac to check out the wifi situation. To my disappointment I discovered that I was being prompted to pay an additional $9.95 for access which perturbed me to say the least. In today's day and age I sort of think that airports and hotels should offer Internet access as a convenience. Given this wasn't an option I reluctantly agreed to have the charge applied to my room - after all I couldn't conceive of being offline! Yes...I am also addicted to being connected...what can I say?!?

After going through the traditional sign-up process I was at last able to start connecting to my email server back at the office, check in with my Twitter peeps and do a little quick searching for where to eat that evening. We'll it seems that I was ready but the wifi wasn't. It was slow as Christmas. I was extremely disappointed. Each website I went to seemed to drag on and on while it loaded of eventually timed out. Given that I usually operate in three to four online environments at once (between email and the various social networks I utilize), I was frustrated.

Though it was slow I finally fired off a Tweet that communicated my disappointment by asking the question (of no one in particular mind you) why I was paying the Omni Hotel for wifi access when it was seemed as slow as dial up? Since my Twitter account is tied into my Facebook account I instantly received a few quick quirky responses from friends about my situation and how it was perhaps a sign from God that I should stay offline or that I had a dependency problem on being so connected. These of course made me smile and relax about the whole thing.

Then out of no where I received a public Tweet from @OmniHotels asking me where I was staying and assurances they would look into my perceived wifi speed issue. It concluded with a suggestion for me to sign up for their Select Guest Program. The first part really impressed me but I didn't pay much attention to the last part about their "program" figuring it was some tie-in marketing effort. I publicly responded to their Tweet with my location and figured that would be the end of it; perhaps my speed would be magically increased but I doubted it. I fired off my response Tweet to them and closed my Macbook Pro.

Twenty minutes later as I was reviewing notes for my upcoming keynote speech I received a call from a Guest Loyalty Specialist (title might be wrong but that is what I remember) named Silvia. She was a delightful energetic woman with a very engaging voice. She informed me that they were looking into my problem and wanted to offer to sign me up for free on the Select Guest Program. She gave me the run down of the features of this free program and offered to waive my wifi charges for this stay altogether. Then, and this really impressed me, offered to move me up to a higher floor where I assume my already great view would be further enhanced. I declined but none-the-less was impressed with her and now solidly with the Omni Hotel and their efforts to make me a happy guest.

I signed up for their program and gave them a little bit of "travel information" which I can assume will be used to cultivate more business from me at some point. I understand marketing after all. However it was the personal touch both on Twitter and in real life that extended the power of Omni's commitment to my satisfaction. Their decision to monitor and respond to my random Tweet clearly engaged me as their customer and overcame a perception issue that ordinarily would have been left unchecked and likely never voiced. Come on you know most of us will say everything was fine when asked during check out how our stay was even though it may not have been. At that point we reluctantly raise the white flag and surrender, certain that a complaint at that point would be a waste of breath. Sad but true but come on you know you've been there too!

The Omni clearly didn't want to leave a potential point of dissatisfaction to chance and took action when they saw there was a problem! They used my Tweet as an opportunity to leverage the power of social media to capture what was happening in a customer's mind in real time and respond. Clearly Silvia and their social media person did an outstanding job and no doubt created a Ripple in my mind that will certainly extend to influencing where I stay next time I speak out of town.

So I have to ask, is your company actively mining the various social media tools to not only take the pulse of your customers/clients but leveraging what it discovers to enhance their overall experience and impression of your company. If not why not? I bet you the folks at Omni could give you a bazillion reasons why you should.

Ripple On!!!

P.S. If my new friends at Omni Hotels happen by this post I would love to know who on the Omni Twitter team responded to my Tweet. Additionally I would love to know Sylvia's full name and supervisor's name so that I could pen a quick note of appreciation for their efforts on my behalf.

1 comment:

Andrea said...

Thank you for sharing your experience. I'm really glad we were given the chance to resolve your issues, thanks to Twitter. I'd be happy to share the names of everyone involved. Please send us an email at

Andrea DeLeon
Omni Hotels