InterContinental Hotels Group's Jenni Kolshak on Customer Social Networks
For that, we wanted to be able to push it to the community. But what we did was instead of promoting it at the same time, we gave community members a sneak peek. That's something we're working on with all of our different brands and teams. So before they launch something big, if we can put it out on the community first, it makes those members feel special—that they're getting to see this offer before it goes out in an e-mail or direct mail.
TM: How does IHG interact with member feedback?
JK: Obviously the private communities are designed for research, but there are customers in there. And if they've had a problem at one of our hotels, they're definitely going to let us know about it.
So luckily we've been able to put together some frequently asked questions that we come across a lot in the private community, and what we've seen so far in the public community is that a lot of similar things come up. So we've been able to use that document to work off of, and then obviously if a major customer service issue happens, we're going to escalate that. We've got a team that works on those things and can talk directly to the customer. We want customers to know the community is not a customer service replacement, but if there is an issue, we're going to respond. It's not going to sit there. I think that differentiates us from a third-party community, where if someone complains, they're not necessarily going to get a response from us.
TM: How does this community fit into IHG's other social marketing efforts?
JK: As far as some of the other [social media tools], like Twitter and Facebook, we're not putting a lot of our time behind those things ... because of the lack of content control and the revenue factor. And some organizations are using it where it sits within public relations, not necessarily marketing. We're still kind of working through that piece—who should own that here? But it's definitely something we're looking at.