Pinpointing the position of social media in its product lifecycle in hospitality was the topic of conversation last week at the Dorchester Collection’s Coworth Park, as a group of marketers and business owners from across the hospitality industry gathered in Ascot.
The discussions centred around where different restaurateurs, product and service suppliers, hoteliers, caterers, industry associations and lobbyists see social media now within their wider marketing activity. Linked to where they see the hospitality industry’s position in terms of social media’s product lifecycle.
The crux of the discussions focused on returns on investment achieved. One delegate shared how restaurants had been filled through Instagram and the strategy and tactics deployed to achieve that goal. Others reflected on the return on investment versus time savings for communications in large teams of people.
Delegates looked at the different channels used, old and new, ranging from the established Facebook to the emerging TikTok, with strategic and tactical lessons shared.
Tone of voice, images, sources of images and image testing, video and calls to action were all reviewed as were use of emoji’s, grammar and punctuation. All had a clear impact on the different objectives and campaign measurements applied. Attention to small details had a big effect.
The objective of any such event is to ensure delegates leave with ‘take-aways’ that can be applied post event.
The observations ranged from seasoned attendees who have shared their experiences previously, enabling a familiar framework to measure by, to newcomers who shed light with a new, different and helpful approach.
One of the delegates taking part that has done previously on many occasions was Simon Esner FIH FIoD, Director, WSH LIMITED. WSH own and operate some of the best known brands in hospitality including BaxterStorey. Commenting on the morning Esner said: “The whole event was extremely well organised and the team at Coworth really made everyone feel welcome and relaxed immediately.
“The attendees were a terrific group of business professionals who all had significant involvement with the discussions, which resulted in me having several ‘take-aways’ that I know I will be able to utilise personally and professionally.
“Key words, subjects and points for me that will enhance our approach to social media utilisation are ‘Authenticity’, ‘Engagement’, ‘use of algorithms and their specific platforms’ and using Instagram as your ‘Inspiration Platform’.
“Lastly, I’m grateful for the information about image libraries. Having looked at the information I know we will be able to learn more and make better use of our approach.”
One of the newer delegates was Paul Anderson FIH, M.C.G.C Managing Director, Meiko UK Limited who told us: “I was kindly invited to attend H&C Social last week at Coworth Park, in a small yet collective discussion on social media and the part it plays in modern business.
“It’s true I am always pushing the boundaries within MEIKO on social media, and yet I always say I am never an expert. It was so useful to gain ideas and thoughts from great peers of our industry during this meeting that I came away thinking we’ve not even really started.
“The use of media is so fast, so readily available and requires constant attention to ensure it is correct, valid and fit for purpose…. more or less a full time role to support and underpin the image of a company.
“I really found this meeting extremely useful and I can’t wait until the next one.”
The mix of delegates was diverse to ensure as many views and perspectives as possible were considered and learned from.
Pat Thomas is a Founder of and Director at Beyond GM, an independent initiative set up to raise the level of the debate on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the UK and elsewhere, at both the local and national level. Its activities aim to broaden the discussion about GMOs beyond the abstract, and often impenetrable, scientific and academic arena and out into the public arena. The task of broadening discussions on GMO’s is in part achieved through social media, so Pat’s input to our discussion was enlightening.
Thomas was enthusiastic saying: “Social media has become such an important platform for sharing not just sterile pieces of information but connected stories that matter about the values that drive us. The social media roundtables are a lively and invaluable forum where individuals can share ideas, challenges and tips for success. Keep them coming.”
The discussions looked at many channels and LinkedIn was covered by Neil Fillbrook FCII, UK Managing Director of international banking firm Bank Brokers. Fillbrook reflected on the morning telling us: “The round-table discussion this morning with social-media thought leaders from the hospitality industry at the wonderful Coworth Park was fascinating. It was intriguing to learn from both a strategic and tactical standpoint.
“Our execution of Social media within our wider marketing mix will improve as a consequence of taking part. Several things quickly became clear to me and the takeaway’s are many. What on earth is TikTok?!”
TikTok in many ways underlines the incredibly fast changing and emerging technologies across social media. TikTok was launched in 2017 by Chinese business ByteDance, valued at $78 billion in November 2018 and is considered one of the most valuable unicorns in the world. One delegate is already au fait with TikTok and shared his experience and views, Rehan Uddin, Managing Director of the Asian Restaurant Owners Network.
Uddin there representing the 1,500 plus members of the Asian Restaurant Owners Network pooled knowledge and experience from members. His contribution was eloquent and enlightening, his feedback was to the point stating: “At the heart of the Asian Restaurant Owners Network we value and cherish our heritage, but our focus is on creating 21st century dining. Social media is key to everything we do and drives our businesses.
“To get a morning of enlightened discussion and knowledge sharing is not only tremendous use of my time, it allows me to disseminate the learning with our members.
“The conversation was steeped in first-hand experience and it was authentic, I leave today’s roundtable with practical guidance I can apply to my own restaurant business and that of fellow members, thank you.”
The variety of perspective from around the table provided a wide range of references with many common touchpoints, enabling references to be debated, linked and clarified. One common denominator was that all participants agreed on was that the product lifecycle of social media is in its growth stage. So, although the use of channels by delegates was as diverse as the table seating mix, the overall approach and view to the opportunity was very similar.
Commenting on the range of perspectives, Antonia Robinson, Manager, Public Relations & Social Media – EMEA at Preferred Hotels & Resorts focused on all our end customers, the consumers, saying: “It was interesting to focus the roundtable discussion on the social media product lifecycle.
“It was great to connect with professionals from so many sectors of the hospitality industry and learn more about how everyone uses social media differently within their companies to align with their brand messaging and goals.
“I greatly enjoyed hearing everyone’s varied perspectives on how the social media landscape is rapidly shifting and how consumers are crying out for more personalisation and authenticity, which in turn is shaking up how companies are handling their approach across the platforms.”
Independent hotels were represented as well as global hotel groups, Preferred Hotels & Resorts and Dorchester Collection. The independent hotel sector was represented by Robert Richardson FIH, GENERAL MANAGER of The Grand in Folkestone.
Richardson raised a number of points including trolling and how to deal with it positively, especially relevant to the many TripAdvisor advocates amongst the group. Richardson was to the point with his discussions and his feedback saying: “Today was excellent in terms of the industry diversity of the group, with each delegate having their own specific social media focus, challenges and successes, which made for an insightful debate and allowed me to leave knowing more than when I arrived. Mission accomplished.”
The morning saw a group of marketers and business owners who are all innovators through what they are doing in social media gather and talk. Innovation is key driver in our fabulous hospitality industry and as such was it a coincidence that most of the attendees businesses are also market leaders in their respective sectors, we think not.
Social media and event specialist Majella O’Connell joined the discussions. O’Connell built twitter channel Pavlova & Cream over recent years to be one of the most engaged twitter channels we follow, if you don’t we would advise you do. O’Connell referenced proceedings as follows…
“I was delighted to be invited to the recent social media roundtable at the stunning Coworth Park, it was a real honour to attend and take part in.
“Having, in the past, used the technique of ‘trial and error’ in social media whilst building my Pavlova & Cream brand, it is now exciting to be using my newly gained knowledge. I attended a digital marketing course and sharing this knowledge in a room full of peers from across the hospitality industry allowed me to reference their experience.
“I found the event to be interesting & insightful with all the views and lessons shared. It was also fascinating to see how different platforms were more suited to different areas of the industry.
“I look forward to the next one.”
A few words from the business that sponsored the event and have done every year for the past six years, Armourcoat. “Armourcoat were delighted to participate in the recent social media roundtable from H&C News and act as sponsor for the event.
“Benchmarking good practice in marketing, which social media channels offer the best return, and how to effectively measure success are critical when reviewing budgets and considering MROI.
“The value of creating an open forum for debate is of enormous benefit.” Daniel Nevitt, Group Marketing Director, Armourcoat.
The last words are from H&C News and all are thank you’s.
Thank you to all who took part.
Thank you to Coworth Park for providing what we have come to expect over the years, perfect hospitality.
Thank you to Daniel and Armourcoat for your tremendous and hugely appreciated support since day one of H&C Social in 2014.
As we publish there are others that attended who will also providing more feedback, so please come back and read more soon.