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.