Cornell and SAS Webcast Urges Hospitality Firms to Make Wise Use of Social Media

May 05, 2010

Contact:  Jennifer Macera, 607.255.3101, js372@cornell.edu 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Cornell and SAS Webcast Urges Hospitality Firms to Make Wise Use of Social Media

Ithaca, NY, May 5, 2010 – The hospitality industry has been plunged into the world of social media, and a new webcast from the CHR and SAS outlines the challenges that the industry faces, including finding your voice, interacting with your guests, and analyzing comments for market information. Webcast participants focused on the way the industry can work with the rapid growth and evolution of social media to make the best possible use of them. The SAS and Cornell webcast, "Getting in on the Conversation," was presented live on April 16.

Originating from the SAS studio in North Carolina, the webcast featured Mark Johnson, founder and publisher of HotelChatter and Jaunted; Kelly McGuire, director of business development, hospitality and gaming, SAS; Lisa Klein Pearo, adjunct assistant professor, Cornell School of Hotel Administration; and Lauren Walker, internet marketing manager, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas.

Although it's not always clear how to make sense of blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media, the industry must learn how to maximize the marketing opportunities in these channels. Walker highlighted the challenge of developing a company's "voice" and being credible. "Developing a social media strategy begins by discovering what your customers want to hear about," she pointed out. "Hard Rock started simply by posting information. As our customers responded, we used what we learned to develop relationships and build a strategy. For instance, now we have 'Twitter Tuesday' deals for those who follow us."

On the question of which employees or managers should post to social groups, Johnson suggested that it should be the person who is both most interested and most able. "You have to realize that your firm is now part of a community," suggested Johnson. "So, if you honestly share information—pay it forward—your followers will help you out."

McGuire outlined three ways that hospitality firms can use the information on social media channels to improve marketing and operations. "You have access to an exciting new data source," she pointed out. "First, you have basic descriptive statistics, like tracking the number of followers and friends. Second, you can see who follows which opinion leaders to determine influencer networks. And third, and most valuable, you can analyze the posts to find themes and sentiments that will help you improve your service. This is all public, and so you can compare your operation against your competitors."

All four panelists agreed that social media is still an area of experimentation. As Pearo summarized: "Don't underestimate the value of listening and learning, and don't be afraid to experiment with social media. But measure everything you do. The return on investment in social media is measured in more than just revenue; it's also measured the value of your brand in the longer term."

About SAS
SAS is the leader in business analytics software and services, and the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market. Through innovative solutions delivered within an integrated framework, SAS helps customers at more than 45,000 global sites improve performance and deliver value by making better decisions faster. Since 1976 SAS has been giving customers around the world THE POWER TO KNOW®.
  
About The Center for Hospitality Research
A unit of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, The Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) sponsors research designed to improve practices in the hospitality industry. Under the lead of the center's 79 corporate affiliates, experienced scholars work closely with business executives to discover new insights into strategic, managerial and operating practices. The center also publishes the award-winning hospitality journal, the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly. To learn more about the center and its projects, visit www.chr.cornell.edu.

Center Senior Partners: Hilton Worldwide, McDonald's USA, Philips Hospitality, STR, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, and TIG Global

Center Partners: Davis & Gilbert LLP, Deloitte & Touche USA LLP, Denihan Hospitality Group, eCornell & Executive Education, Expedia, Inc., Forbes Travel Guide, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Fox Rothschild LLP, French Quarter Holdings, Inc., FX Real Estate and Entertainment, Inc., HVS, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, Jumeirah Group, LRP Publications, Maritz, Marriott International, Inc., Marsh's Hospitality Practice, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Proskauer, Sabre Hospitality Solutions, SAS, Schneider Electric, Southern Wine and Spirits of America, Inc., Thayer Lodging Group, Thompson Hotels, Travelport, and WATG

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