Over the last year looking for interesting first-hand hospitality stories, I’ve gathered a list of a few little-known websites where hotel workers go to share stories, inside jokes, and general tips. They never fail to provide a few laughs.
Lately, it seems that these websites have grown into groups and threads on social media sites where they have gathered a bit more traction. I won’t link to them here, but many of the groups have taken to Facebook, which posed a few questions.
For one, I wonder how many hotels have included this type of group message board in their online and social media policies. Are your employees allowed in these groups at all? (I do not suggest that employees should be banned, I only wonder if they are.)
A majority of the posts on these groups tend toward the tell-all. Whether it’s outing a guest or the hotel itself for bad behavior, most workers keep identifying factors (such as names and dates) out of their stories, but certainly the guest who “finally admitted ownership of the dentures clogging the plumbing” will recognize her story.
On the other hand, many employees seem to embody the brand standard, even under the cover of online anonymity, citing that it is their pleasure to help guests with any request. While individual hotels and brands are not always named, these boards could be quite useful for future guest in terms of how and when to ask for upgrades or discounts. Many employees have gone so far as to explain their actual role in the hotel, saying that most guests don’t realize how much employees can help them if only they would ask. There were quite a few posts encouraging guests to sign up for the hotel’s rewards programs as well.
Another possible bonus is workers who explained to guests on these threads the difference between rooms booked directly through the hotel and rooms booked through an online travel company. Travelers are largely unaware of the rate hit a hotel takes when they book through these sites, and I have seen a large number of employees practically begging guests to book directly, a move which benefits both guest and hotel.
After a leading question to hotel workers was posted on Reddit yesterday, it grew to thousands of posts almost instantly. I looked through it quite a bit on the suggestion of a friend, and noticed that most workers posting negative stories did not give away any identifying details. Those who had positive additions more readily shared this information.
Of course, all of this changes with groups on Facebook. When you belong to a Facebook group, anyone who finds the group can easily see full names and employment of the members. Unless the group is closed, any Facebook user can also see every post made in the group. This has the potential to backfire in a big way for an employee or a hotel.
I do not personally think that off-duty online activity should be overly restricted by an employer, although I do believe that measures should be taken to protect your brand from disgruntled employees. My suggestion in the case of Facebook groups would be to disallow any that are open for public viewing, just in case one of your guests sees their own embarrassing story there.
In terms of other groups, or posts on sites such as Reddit, how do you feel about your employees taking part in these discussions? And what would they say? I think this may potentially benefit any hotel with excellent cleanliness and guest service policies. Hotels that fall short…not so much. What do you think?