Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast: Episode 15 – How to Deal With a Social Media or PR Crisis

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Your social fan base can be one of your hotel’s best assets and word-of-mouth exposure can be priceless.  However massive social exposure is not always a good thing…

So what do you do when a guest tweets a photo of bedbugs, or someone posts a scathing review on TripAdvisor?  In this episode we discuss the three tactics for mitigating the damage when the social stuff hits the fan (S-SHTF) and even turning it into a win.

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In The News

Expedia Purchases Photo Sharing Site: http://www.dgitaltrends.com/photography/expedia-acquisition-acquires-trover-travel-photography/ This combined with Orbits and CheapTickets expanding their reviews to rental cars is a sign that the OTAs are looking to chip away at the TA marketshare

Google releases new ways to edit Google Maps listings.


How many hotels have jumped on the Pokemon GO Bandwagon



Show Notes:

Examples of S-SHTF

Strategy 1: Lemons into Lemonade

  • This should be your default strategy for negative social press
  • Find guess with small issues and turn into big wins (Giraffe example)
  • You are building your positive social brand here
  • Monitor beyond your # or @.  Watch for brand and destination keywords

Strategy 2: Embrace and Turn

  • Creating content to own the search results
  • Become the uber-expert
  • Be aggressive and overwhelm the negative

Strategy 3: Own Up And Apologize

  • Own it fast if you’re going to own it at all.  You don’t want to be perceived as doing this as a last resort.
  • Be sincere and direct in your apology
  • Be “over the top” in terms of making it right.

Strategy 4: Fight!

  • This is the riskiest of all strategies because you can easily become the big corporation attacking the little guy.
  • Clear cut case of right v/s wrong
  • Clear evidence to the point
  • Prove your point but be nice and always take the high ground
  • Humor helps to break the tension

Strategy 5: Passively Monitor

  • WARNING: Be careful you are not missing an opportunity to turn an upset customer into a lifelong guest.
  • WARNING: Be sure your head is not in the sand
  • A good strategy if the issue is just a single comment/post and you believe any involvement will only add gas to a dying fire
  • Note the potential problem and address internally
  • Prepare in case your strategy needs to change


Prepare In Advance for a S-SHTF

The time to prepare is before the crisis hits.  Take a page from Marriott’s playbook and create a detailed crisis plan (2001 plan released on Wikileaks) http://loyaltylobby.com/2013/10/15/marriott-crisis-management-guide/

  1. Have a Plan –
  2. Involve The Team –
  3. Build Social Capital Now –
  4. Monitor and prepare to react –


Success Stories:

  • The Bed Bug Hotel – Addressed and owned the story
    • Addressed personal questions
    • Created content educating guests about their bed bug procedure (really cool)
  • The Murder Scene Hotel – Won with content
    • (did they address the issue directly?)
    • Created a series of videos to bury the negative
  • Joshie the Giraffe and Ritz Carlton – Lemons into lemonade
    (lost once – found, lost again at another hotel – replaced by Ritz)

  • Death at the Grand Floridian – Apologize and make right
    • Over the top response at Disney including closing all beaches
    • Fences
    • Disney CEO Bob Iger personally calling family
    • Provided information, was transparent, and helped

Fail Stories:


The 5 “A’s” Of A PR Crisis (credit to Forbes)

  • Assess. Calmly, despite the stress, identify the issue and determine the best course of action.
  • Admit. If you were at fault (or worse, lying) admit the transgression quickly and directly
  • Address. Specifically address what you are admitting and apologizing for.  Don’t mince words, be direct and succinct.
  • Atone. Make right what you made wrong.  Detail out your plan to ensure (1) you fix the issue and (2) layout out plan for it to not happen again.
  • Adapt. Move on a better person or company.  It’s time to begin repairing and rebuilding you social capital



Understand even the best brands will hit social stumbling blocks, how you handle the issue will define your brand moving forward.

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