Social media & the hospitality industry

My take on social media in the hospitality industry

Since starting at Melrose Café and bar almost 7 years ago as a hostess I’ve been lucky to have witnessed many business focus and culture shifts. I started when the Flames were in the running for the Stanley Cup, and the Red Mile came alive. I remember sitting on the ledge of the patio watching the parade of people swarm into the streets of 17th Ave. People were full of energy, excitement and pride for our beloved Flames.

Like anything, the good fortune of our team couldn’t last forever and slowly Melrose had to start shifting their focus away from relying on the Flames for business and into other ventures.

Years later I moved from a server to assistant marketing manager, which was the best transition I could have imagined. I was able to give input and suggestions from a ‘ground level’ perspective which has proven to be very helpful. I also know how very important customer service is.

One of the toughest dogmas our society is breaching right now is this personalization of customer service. Business reputations can crumble at a single complaint, and likewise be vaulted into stardom with the right person spreading their positive experience. It’s hard to think that each table should be treated differently, but so many restaurants preach the 2 minute greet rule, the 8 minute order and arrival of appetizers…etc. Now, I understand that this is to ensure the quality of the products being served but too many employees in the hospitality industry act like robots. They are groomed with exactly what to say, when to say it and how to say it. Creepy.

Personalization of customer service is now a principle we at Melrose are transposing into our online world. Each tweet is personal and as far from automated as we can get. When you connect with through any of our social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, Yelp or YouTube you get a real person responding.

When I go out I’m looking to connect with the people I interact with. I can smell a robot a mile away and it really irritates me. It irritates me because at work we are striving to be as genuine as possible and really make an effort to connect with people both in the physical and online world. My work philosophy comes from the book ‘The Thank You Economy’ by Gary Vaynerchuck who summarizes in my opinion that big companies who treat their customers like numbers are failing, and those companies who take the time to invest interest in their customers are cleaning up!

Why?

Because we don’t want to be numbers! I know I certainly don’t, I want to be treated like the best thing since sliced cheese when I walk in. I want that personal touch; that kind and wholesome connection that makes an experience with a restaurant or bar stand out apart from the rest.

This is where social media has leveraged our abilities at Melrose to connect with our customers. I can actually say that I have embraced this culture change whole heartedly and feel both as a customer and employee that the best way to personalize customer service is by getting out there and saying HI! I really enjoy talking and connecting with people-probably helps that I’m a social butterfly to start with, but even for the shy and quiet people it gives them a voice.

Social media has only just begun to open a whole new world of customer service for the hospitality industry. It’s up to business owners to really understand it and use it as a tool not just a promotions channel. Opportunities are popping up each and every day, who knows what tomorrow will bring??

Post written by Ally Simpson, Assistant Marketing Manager April 11, 2011

You can connect with Ally:

@melroseredmile

@YYCGal

ally@melrosecalgary.com

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