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Twitter Ethos At The Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore

I have followed The Cliff House Hotel for quite a while on Twitter and discussing it with friends we all agreed that their Twitter strategy is spot on; professional, interesting and a pleasure to interact with.

Luckily for me I am local to The Cliff House Hotel so I thought I’d pop down and find out who the Tweeter is behind the name and how they perfected their Twitter tactics.  I met up with the General Manager, Adriaan Bartels and had a great chat about Twitter; the way he believes it works well and the power it has, plus he gives some excellent advice on using Twitter.

The Cliff House Hotel has been on the cliff overlooking the beautiful coastal village of Ardmore in County Waterford since the early 1900’s. Until the recent multi-million rebuild and revamp by the current owners in 2008 it was a family run hotel with a fascinating history.  Now it is a five star luxury hotel with a one Michelin Star restaurant that attracts many visitors, rich and famous, normal and ordinary, to Ardmore.

How long have you been doing Social Media for the Cliff House Hotel?

8308 (and counting) Tweets ago! I think it was in early 2009 that I started tweeting for the hotel. The Facebook page for the hotel was set up a few months after that. I tweet for the hotel (which I prefer) and my Deputy Manager manages the Facebook page plus several of my management team tweet independently also.

So as it’s only yourself that Tweets for the hotel do you interact as Adriaan Bartels or the Hotel?

I interact as both essentially although my name isn’t on the bio. Some people know it is me and others tweet with the Hotel. However I like to think I bring my own personality and humour through the comments. I never tweet about personal stuffwhen off duty and I only tweet as a business person for the Hotel.

Whilst I was in for lunch recently I noticed you Tweeting in your stride and you also recognised me from my Avatar to come over and say hello which was very nice. Do you enjoy Tweeting and does it interfere with your main job or do you consider it part of your normal day now?

Mostly I enjoy it as I only Tweet when it suits me. Twitter is part of my job now but it can be a distraction. I would only go up and say hello to a fellow Tweeter here if they had tweeted to say hi already.

You have a great presence and following on Twitter.  How do you think you’ve built this up and did you find it easy?

I have never felt I had to follow people to get follows back; in fact I often unfollow some people. I haven’t consciously done anything to build up followers on Twitter. I do take part in #TNI (Travellers Night In) every Thursday night at 8.30 which is 10 questions about Tourism and Travel and I have also been a co-host of #Frifotos. I love the fact you can connect with people you wouldn’t normally meet in real life.

The first time I realised the huge power of Twitter was when we had the annual Pattern Festival going on in Ardmore in 2009 and I tweeted about it. Immediately a guy in Texas tweeted me to say that he currently had a TV crew in Ireland and would like to cover the festival. They ended up staying with us and filming the festival. They also interviewed and videoed us about the hotel. All within 3 days of my tweet. It just shows how powerful Twitter can be.

What type of Twitter app works best for you?

I use Tweetdeck on my laptop and Hootsuite on my iPad. For the Blackberry I use SocialScope which I was introduced to via a tweeter – see, the power of Twitter! It’s still in Beta mode so there are limited accounts at the moment.

Have you noticed more and more people tweeting about the Cliff House when visiting – checking into foursquare maybe?

Yes, we are noticing more and more tweets about us now. We aren’t really into foursquare as we are not a busy enough location. Perhaps a city centre hotel trying to attract foursquare “book-ins” by rewarding with a free coffee or whatever suits that type of app.

Do you have a Social Media plan or policy in place?

Not really, just an ethos – keep it interesting, humorous if possible, and relevant to keeping people up to date as to what is happening in the hotel. Also I never use Tweets as a sales pitch.

Did you have any Social Media training and what would you do if you had to pass the mantle on to someone else?

I wouldn’t give Twitter up! We also have two managers, Siobhan Ryan and Paul Finegan and our Executive Chef Martijn Kajuiter,  on Twitter and we are lucky that they tweet appropriately although none of us have had any training.

Are you able to monitor a return from your Social Media investment and if so how is it going for you?

We don’t exactly monitor it in that way.  I think it is more about keeping in touch and reminding people that we are here. It’s also good for keeping in touch with people in the industry – competitors and friends. I don’t directly market on Twitter. For me it’s about providing information and reminders.

What do you think about the fact that it is so simple now for people to tweet something good or bad and it can then be doing the rounds very quickly?

Thankfully only the good tweets have happened for us. I’m not sure what I will do if there is something bad apart from being diplomatic and try to solve the problem.

I’m sure a lot of your business is repeat business and word of mouth but do you do any marketing apart from a presence on Social Media?

We believe that there is currently 20% repeat business from people visiting us since 2008 which is great for a new hotel. We also see a lot of people bringing their grandparents and parents here because years ago these older relatives had brought them to the previous Cliff House Hotel and Ardmore as children. These “grown up” visitors have often emigrated and now come back to revisit their childhood holiday memories.

Other marketing we do is sometimes Radio and Newspaper adverts or journalistic reviews.

What would you say is the difference between marketing in the old days and the way it is now with the availability of Social Media?

In the old days to market a hotel a brochure would be sent out to direct marketing people, journalists and editors about up and coming events. The brochure would either go into the bin, be forgotten about or kept on the desk to possibly book an interview. Nowadays Twitter is a gentle reminder regularly to these people and it works far more effectively. We wanted to make The Cliff House Hotel known internationally as quickly as possible and online is a cheaper way to meet people from everywhere.

What do you like to see on Social Media yourself and what would make you Retweet or Share?

Humorous tweets are enjoyable and I like interesting links, particularly to do with the industry and social media itself, for example the Social Media Examiner is a mine of free Social Media information.  I also like to congratulate and help promote colleagues in the industry. I believe that what goes around comes around.

If you were to give someone advice or tips for their Twitter plan what would it be?

  • Vary it but have a common theme or anthem.
  • Don’t use timed or impersonal tweets.
  • Don’t use it to sell last minute offers or rooms etc.
  • Don’t get a third party to send your tweets for you.
  • Always reply and acknowledge tweets about you or retweets.
  • Being polite on Twitter is terribly important.
  • Add photos and hash tags where possible.
  • Pause and think twice before hitting the send button.
  • Don’t send a tweet in anger. Humour works better.
  • Don’t slag off your customers.
  • Avoid political or controversial issues.

What do you see as the future on Social Media for the Cliff House Hotel?

We are very open to innovation and always watch out for new stuff.  For example we are the first local hotel to get an electric car for runs to the airport and the locality for customers and supplies. We’re waiting to see new features from Twitter and Facebook or whoever and we’ll adapt as appropriate.

We hope to start a blog soon and keep everyone in touch with the day to day running of the Hotel but of course it will be done in our own special way of The Cliff House Hotel.

I have to say it was a real pleasure chatting to Adriaan Bartels and I hope some of his Twitter experience can be of interest and help to others.


Sian Phillips is the Managing Editor of TweakYourBiz.com and Content Editor on EggMarketingPR.com. Sian is also the accountant for her clients Clearwave.ie and Comserv.ie but is moving more and more into the content editing world; proofreading and editing blog posts, eBooks, novels and anything that is written. With over 25 years’ worth of experience in business and accounting Sian provides help to her clients with accounting and credit control. The other half of Sian’s day is spent working in the Social Media space; proofreading, copyediting, sharing posts and advice or conducting interviews for TweakYourBiz.com. She is a qualified Accountant with an Honours Diploma in Journalism too. http://www.tweakyourbiz.com

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  • I’ve been following Cliff House Hotel for a while & like the humour & lack of hard sell. There were some pretty nice food photos tonight which made us all hungry I’m sure. I like the way you handle the account Adriaan, keep up the good work.
    Nice interview Sian, good questions 🙂
    ~Helen

  • Hi Adriaan & Sian, 

    thanks Sian for doing the interview, and thanks Adriaan for providing such great insight to other businesses on how to tweet for business success! 

    I would like to share with you about the power of FourSquare from personal experience.  I was staying with Sian (minding her furries while she was away) early last summer with my boyfriend, who wanted to take me out to dinner.  As neither of us knew the area well we decided to look for nearby restaurants on twitter- and discovered The Cliff House Hotel, so we set off to find it- again with the help of the map on FourSquare! 

    When we arrived there were no table available in the restaurant as we hadn’t pre-booked but your staff were very friendly and seated us in the bar area- still with great views and we got to partake of the same menu- the food was delicious!  

    If it wasn’t for Foursquare, I’d never have known you were there & wouldn’t have gone that day- and I know every time I go back to visit Sian (next time will be February) I’ll pop by to enjoy the excellent decor, service and food! 

    So please, don’t neglect little ‘ol Foursquare- particularly because of the tourism aspect to it- we did the same when we were in Houston and Phoenix last year- Foursquare is an excellent way of finding restaurants when one is hungry 🙂 

  • Hi Sian, you’re becoming such a wonderful interviewer & well done to Adriaan for letting us see inside their strategy for Twitter. His story about the Pattern Festival and the TV crew is such a great example for what can happen. 

  • A well written and comprehensive interview Sian, well done to you both. The Cliff House Hotel is now on my radar, and I am off now to find them on twitter.
    The tips are great Adriaan, and you certainly are taking the proces very seriously while having LOTS of fun!! 
    Thank you both for sharing a great story, great questions, and great tips 🙂

  • Thanks Helen – I thought the same as you and am very lucky that the hotel is just down the road from me

  • Thanks for the lovely comments Elaine. I’d definitely recommend a follow and a visit 🙂

  • Thanks for the suggestion Claire – always good to know when something works well. We’ll definitely pop down next time you are visiting – I know the way well so don’t need the app 🙂

  • Thank you for the kind comments Niall. It really does help having such interesting people to interview

  • I want to visit this hotel now, Adriaan seems like a nice bloke! They should start a blog I can really see that improving things even more. It’s got me thinking now about who else has used Twitter successfully. I’ve only been reading up about the disaster stories of late – time to be more of an optimist.

  • I’m so glad that came across in the interview as Adriaan really is a “nice bloke” and the hotel well worth a visit. I can’t wait to see their blog too

  • This is a real positive
    interview for the hotelier industry. It shows how power social is
    becoming and how you can adopt it as part of your working life (tweeting
    while serving).

  • Thanks Christina. Have to say that Adriaan is an expert at Tweeting while he works – and you’d never notice. I was just trying to spot who the tweeter was 🙂

  • As a novice, I started following @cliffhousehotel to see how to behave on Twitter & Adriaan is a great example to use. Plus, very generous in terms of his interest in followers and fellow Tweeters. I think Twitter is building a great community in West Waterford. Thank you for the interview Sian (p.s. you are a good Twitter example as well)

  • Thanks for the lovely comment and yes it’s great to see the community building in West Waterford too

  • Wow Sian Such a Wonderful hotel some of the content is good and i really enjoy to read this post and also see nice images. Thank you for share this information.

  • Abartels

    Thanks Clive and Rachel – enjoy keeping in touch with you ‘across the water!’

  • Abartels

    My pleasure, Niall.

  • Adriaan

    Thanks Alex – look forward to welcoming you to Ardmore. Blog on its way!

  • Abartels

    My pleasure Elaine – look forward to welcoming you to the wilds of West Waterford soon.

  • Abartels

    Thanks Claire – Great reply and I assure you that it’s not that I don’t think much of Foursquare – it’s more to do with the time it takes to keep all these sites updated and interact with them – think our next step is to hire a full time IT person! Please say help the next time you are down minding the ‘furries’!! Adriaan

  • Abartels

    Thanks Helen – appreciate your kind comments and your follow. Adriaan

  • Abartels

    Thanks Francesce appreciate our comments.

  • Abartels

    Thanks Christina – #thepoweroftwitter! – we need positivity to survive this recession! And it’s thanks to the likes of Sian who provided the mouthpiece for us to tell the world about how we operate. She was a great interviewer and made it easy to tell my story. Adriaanbartels

  • I totally get that there is a limit to the amount of time to spend on all relevant social media platforms- the great thing about FourSquare is that it requires the least amount of time- just go in and make sure the relevant information is on Foursquare for your venue- and let the people using FourSquare do the marketing for you.  

    They’ll send out alerts to their networks of where they are, even leave tips for other customers about what’s good, take pictures of themselves enjoying the food, and as we found- foursquare even helped us find you to begin with, just by searching for nearby “restaurants”.  For geographically located businesses Foursquare has to be the easiest way to gain social media coverage, with the minimal amount of time invested into it. 

    phew!  That was a long comment!  Maybe I ought to turn that into a FourSquare blog post myself!! 🙂  

    Again.. there are almost unlimited things one could do… if one had the time!! 

    excellent, I look forward to meeting you in person- am over looking after the “furries” again late, and Sian has said she’ll bring me down, seeing as she knows the way I won’t need Foursquare this time 🙂  

  • Yay!! Looking forward to it 🙂

  • Phil

    Well done little sister. Any chance of a discount at the Hotel for a hard up Welsh pensioner?

  • The cheeky brother 🙂 I’ll buy you lunch there next time you’re visiting 🙂

  • Abartels

    Bring your OAP card with you 😉

  • Reflexrox

    Great article…thanks for all the relevant information, its nice to know other people are not using the hard sell on Twitter.

  • warrenrutherford

    Wow – this was an extremely helpful post.  Certainly not scannable:).   Debbie I use these and never understood the logic behind them, so simply explained and understood (well almost) by a non-techie.  Thanks so much.

  • Debi Harper

    Phew:) glad it was helpful Warren and thank you for you kind comments, I am still a very nervous blogger.

  • Debi Harper

    Thank you Niall 🙂

  • Finally Debi!!! Thank you for taking the opportunity to educate those who are constantly or often thinking in terms of Apps.
    On a lighter note, it always amuses me when I am in a training room and use the word APP (and we are working with MS Excel for example). 99% of attendees immediately think of their phone, and not the “application” that we have been working on and learning about) Always makes me smile.App is definitely associated with mobile devices, and we have to use Application or Program to differentiate the desktop version 🙂

  • My husband (dairy and beef farmer) has just got a smartphone (Nokia Lumia which is fab – i think it is better than my iphone)  just because of the apps he’ll be able to use. We use Kingswood for our data and they are launching a couple of apps so he can record births/medicines and much more when he is out and about rather than having to do it close to midnight. They are costly though, apparently they will be about €100 each – I thought they’d be about a fiver.
    You’re right though, many farmers just need to be shown how easy they are and how they will be so timesaving.  2 months ago, our supplier phoned him to say he was due an upgrade and if he wanted a smartphone – he didn’t know what it was!

  • I’d love to see a list of handy apps for farmers explaining what they do and perhaps a scoring system regarding their worth – is there one available on the IFA website?

  • The point about inevitability is interesting (#8). Ireland is going digital TV by the end of this year, so a non-digital TV will simply not work.
    For now, we can still use the old style phone for calls and texts, but as you say in your article Connor, once anyone realises the benefit of apps and smartphones in general, they will come round.
    My friend declares herself technophobe, yet has discovered Boggle on her new iPad. This has given her new confidence with a piece of hardware that she thought she would never “get”.
    Great points 🙂

  • Thanks Elaine.  That’s it. It really is inevitable – they can run but they can’t hide

  • No worries Elish – if you’re ever looking for some advice on how to push the offline to online just holler!

  • Lorna, in work are launching an ideal smartphone for your hubbie called the Motorola Defy.  It’s Android but also ‘farm-proof’ i.e. pretty much waterproof; dust-proof and shock-proof.  In terms of your idea, well done! That’s great.  We need to do a coffee soon so I can pick your brains in getting a greater understanding of how technology could aid you and your husband on the farm! Would that be OK? 

  • Me included sometimes! 🙁

  • Hide like an ostrich?? I have just seen this – 49% of Irish population own a smart phone. Some more interesting stats here too –  http://www.mrlukeabbott.com/marketing/irish-social-media-statistics-may-2012/

  • You should read the Money Bubble by John Rubino and James Turk.

  • Great suggestions. You should also check out commercescience.com – great tool to present personalized offers that change in real time according to users behavior.

  • Great list! I’d love to see 4-Tell.com’s personalized product recommendations added – it’s a great way to increase conversion and sales too. Leverage the aggregate and individual shopping behavior in real-time to suggest different items to each of your shoppers. Bonus – the same great recommendations can be easily dropped into any email system, including MailChimp!

  • I like the advice: “Find your own leadership style”

  • Hi Kathryn, these are great insights that many originations could learn from. There seems to be an attitude in some quarters that you can fake/engineer authenticity but customers are too savvy and will see through this so it’s got to be real. The key as you say is to “strive for progress not perfection”.




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