An unapologetic look at Hospitality

No Vacancy 2011 – Social Media is a scam!

April 22, 2011 · 1 Comment

On March 23rd the No Vacancy conference was on in Sydney, Australia. I was supposed to go but instead I got stuck in the office dealing with real business. You know how that goes, someone has to stay behind making sure service to our customers isn’t interrupted. I was stuck following the events through various live-blogs, Twitter and the likes. What follows are a few highlights of #novac11 as seen through the eyes of an absentee.

William ShatnerFinding himself amidst several key-players in the socio-sphere, I couldn’t help but think that Mister Glenn Fogel of priceline.com should have gotten the price for gutsiest performance. Either that, or he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Given that you don’t just become EVP of a company that large on good looks alone, maybe there is something he knows that we don’t. But to paraphrase, he called social media people scammers. Hmm! As the Web In Travel folks asked on their Facebook page. Did he say that out of fear or conviction?

The exact quote got somewhat lost in the shuffle for me (that in itself is an interesting side-effect of social media). Web In Travel used the term charlatans, while the Tnooz live-blogger Graham Robertson quoted Fogel as saying,  “No one understands if social media will work out. They are hucksters trying to steal your money.” Hmm times two!

To be fair to Glenn, he seemed to have mostly been talking about buying advertizing space on social networks. I am with Glenn at least on that one.  I don’t think an ad on Facebook will ever be more than marginally successful. In the greater scheme of things however, saying that no one understands social media flies directly in the face of soc. media success stories. A few of which being told at #novac11 that very same day.

Take for instance Accor hotels putting TripAdvisor reviews right on their own web site(s). That is a bold move! And it’s not just some test in a backwater market where nobody ever books a hotel either. During #novac2011, Accor’s Australian VP  Simon McGrath explained that Accor saw a booking increase at properties with lots of review traffic compared to those with less reviews. When asked why Accor didn’t use their own review system, McGrath’s answer was that TripAdvisor, as a third party, had much more credibility.

In the end it’s simple. Who do you trust? William Shatner or your neighbor?

Categories: Hospitality · Social
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