When he was appointed General Manager of the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile nearly a year ago, Ronald Hoogerbrugge had already amassed 20 years of experience with IHG, where he began his career in 1996 as a front office management trainee at the Forum Hotel in London.
Much has changed in the industry since then, including the impact of the internet—especially social media—on properties’ ability to better know and cater to their guests.
Hoogerbrugge says IHG had already been partnering with Local Measure, a social media tool used successfully in Australia and China, when the global expansion of this social intelligence provider prompted IHG’s corporate offices to consider its use in the U.S.
Local Measure, he says, enables companies to harness the power of the internet to anticipate and respond to guests far more comprehensively and effectively than previously by using location-based technology to learn what customers are saying and doing on site. “Local Measure is a fantastic partner whose new tool for properties with an active social media approach is a great add-on designed to greatly enhance the guest experience. It enables us to discover social media posts and customer feedback in real-time at one or more locations using geolocation or customer Wi-Fi,” says Hoogerbrugge.
Thus monitoring guests’ public social media communications—eg, their Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram postings—through geotagging, he adds, can make staff aware of things that are actually happening on their own premises. “We knew a lot before and are always quick to react to the Tweets and Facebook messages we receive, but Local Measure makes us more aware of what’s happening beyond what guests directly communicate to us.”
It also lets them piggyback on customers’ positive remarks about properties. “We appreciate when our guests tell others about our property. For example, when a guest commented on the architecture of the hotel, we were able to mention a 15-minute iPod tour of the hotel. That guest took the tour and shared more pictures. This is just one example of picking something up and dramatically increasing its reach by interacting directly with loyal and influential guests.”
He says the impact of Local Measure implementation in January was nearly “instantaneous.” Hoogerbrugge admits that there were initial concerns about privacy and extra work for the staff, but emphasizes that the information collected is from public sites, and that its operational staff already uses various tools—including short surveys, telephone contact, and social media—to assess guests’ satisfaction and anticipate their desires. “We were able to quickly integrate it into our day-to-day procedures and use this tool to more easily focus on our guests.” This, he says, instilled pride in the team and provided the opportunity to engage more with guests.
We want to know if everything is ok and if there’s anything else we can do. This includes constructive criticism: “Feedback is automatically submitted to the relevant department—e.g., food and beverage, housekeeping, to front office—for response or other action.”
Hoogerbrugge says using a social intelligence provider is just another tool that can be used effectively to personalize the guest experience. “In our industry, it’s important to use all available tools to streamline processes and to individualize service. Local Measure gives us the opportunity to peek into the lives of our guests and make special times more special with extra care and attention.”
“The InterContinental Chicago has 792 rooms plus 50,000 square feet of meeting space, so we always have a lot of people in the building. With 400 colleagues on the property, we can catch a lot of those moments ourselves, but we can’t see everything. Using this tool enables us to engage with more opportunities so we can create more fabulous moments in the property.”