How Hilton’s Social Media Center of Excellence Keeps Guests Coming Back

How Hilton's Social Media Center of Excellence Keeps Guests Coming Back

Sabrina Callahan, Director of Social Media Planning & Integration at Hilton Worldwide, joins Social Pros for a deep dive into social media centers.

In This Episode:

Please Support Our Sponsors:

Huge thanks to our amazing sponsors for helping us make this happen. Please support them; we couldn't do it without their help! This week:

Full Episode Details

Building a Better Experience

Timing is everything. Providing a good experience and caring for your customers takes far more than just responding to complaints. By the time someone voices an issue, you have already missed the opportunity to create that stellar experience they were looking for and are left with clean up.

It is crucial to monitor and react in real time, creating real human engagement. For Hilton Worldwide, this meant developing a powerful social media center to manage the numerous brands and hundreds of worldwide locations.

This level of listening and intentional effort to engage customers takes serious coordination within your team. Setting up a social media center to keep everything pushing towards that killer customer experience might be a critical next step, especially when managing multiple brands.

In This Episode

  • How to set up a social media center to manage social teams across multiple brands.
  • How to customize social engagement for each brand and audience.
  • Why social is about long-term gains rather than immediate returns.
  • How to build customer loyalty without just going for the sale.

Quotes From This Episode

At the end of the day, listening to your guests is the most important thing. You need to have a resource ready to hear them and then do something about it. Click To Tweet

“It doesn’t matter what source customers are getting to us by. If they’re hitting us on social, we want to be able to take that data and that real-time engagement and do something with it to enhance their experience and customer journey along the way.” — @sabscallahan

“The true power of social media is creating that organic connection that makes guests want to come back to you and continue to engage with you.” — @sabscallahan

Resources

See you next week!

Influencer Marketing Mistakes Great Brands Don't Make

Influencer marketing is all the rage, but it’s also VERY EASY to botch the job. Based on our many B2B and B2C influencer campaigns, this tight eBook will save you from sadness.

Episode Transcript

 
Jay: Hey everybody this is Jay Bayer from Convince & Convert. Welcome to Social Pros, I'm joined again this week by my very special Texas friend, he is the executive strategist for Salesforce marketing cloud, he's Adam Brown. What's up my man?
Adam: Jay, I really enjoyed the show that we just had the opportunity to record with Sabrina Callahan, director of social media planning and integration for Hilton. Just like me, I know you travel a lot and we see travel and experience from the customer or the guest side, but with Sabrina I think was able to do was give us insights on what social looks like inside of one of the world's largest hospitality brands.
Jay: Yeah, and they have so many different brands too, 14 different brands within the Hilton portfolio. And what we talked about a lot in this episode was how she and her team are working with individual hotel properties to make sure that they're social media is on point, which is no small task. They have thousands and thousands and thousands of internal stakeholders at Hilton that they're trying to make better at social. And man, that's hard to fathom.
Adam: And just as remarkable is some of the ambassador programs that they're running with Hilton Suggest and the like. Empowering these people who are not social media practitioners, they may want to be social pros, but they're not social pros yet. But giving them and empowering them to be able to represent the brand and do some pretty fantastic things, tens if not hundreds of thousands of times each and every year.
Jay: Yeah, it's a terrific episode. Sabrina really brought a lot of knowledge to the game and really shared a lot of interesting facts about exactly how things are happening at Hilton. We really appreciate her candor and her participation on the show. You're gonna like this one ladies and gentlemen, it is Sabrina Callahan from Hilton on this week's Social Pros podcast.
Hey everybody it's Jay Bayer from Convince & Convert, thanks so much for listening to the Social Pros podcast. A quick note to thank this week's sponsors of the show, including our friends at Co Schedule, recently named to the Inc 500 list of fastest growing private companies, congratulations Co Schedule. They are the all in one marketing calendar, providing project management, email marketing, and social promotion in one place. Get complete visibility over your entire marketing schedule. Keep your sanity and get more done with Co Schedule. Don't take my word for it, try it for yourself. Saves my team 10 hours a week, we use it constantly. Get your free social strategy template plus a rundown on how Co Schedule can save you a ton of time as well. Go to coschedule.com/socialpros. That's coschedule.com/socialpros. I really recommend it.
Also this week the show's brought to you as always by our friends at Salesforce marketing cloud, love these guys. Look, social is more important than ever for B to B marketers. Yet some in B to B have a hard time using it effectively. If you haven't downloaded the new book from Salesforce, called the Social B to B Guide, make sure that you do it before we take it off the website. Go to bitly/socialb2bguide. That's bitly/socialb the number two, B guide. Bitly/socialb2bguide from Salesforce marketing cloud. It's called the Complete Guide to Social Media For B to B Marketers, all kinds of great content in there about what social channels to use, how to measure more effectively, how to use influencers more effectively. It's great content. Grab it, no cost. Bit.ly/socialb2bguide.
And now this week's Social Pros podcast.
Sabrina Callahan is a director of social media planning and integration for all them Hilton hotels and Hilton derivatives that you're aware of worldwide. Sabrina, welcome to Social Pros.
Sabrina: Thank for having me, I'm excited to be here.
Jay: We are excited to have you too because one of the things I love about this show is when we speak to people like you who have to in social, support a whole family of brands. And that is certainly the case at Hilton because you've got Hilton regular, and you've got the Conrad and you've to Double Tree, which I talk about every single day. Double Tree's the star of my new book Talk Triggers. And you've got Hilton Garden Inn, and Hampton Inn, I think is yours as well. And like all these other brands, how A, do you keep them straight? And B, doesn't that present a lot of social media challenges for you and your team?
Sabrina: So that's a good question. I know you're a Double Tree fan, I saw you're handing out cookies, so I'm like do I have to go through Jay to get cookies?
Jay: I suspect.
Sabrina: Just ask the Double Tree team.
Jay: I think you probably could just get 'em from the Double Tree team, but yes, if you go to Talktriggers.com and you pre-order-
Sabrina: I saw that.
Jay: [inaudible 00:04:33] copy of my book, we're gonna send you a tin of Double Tree cookies, Adam Brown. Hint hint, I'll wait.
Sabrina: Perfect. So that's a good question, right. I think what we're constantly doing as a team, you know we work with all the stakeholders that cross all of social for Hilton, including all 14 brands, HR, the careers, PR for Hilton newsroom. Right, as a social operations team, it's our job to know those brands inside and out, and how we can help them to remain specific to their brand guidelines and tone, and put together a strategy that makes sense for them as well as every other channel that we have in the social space.
Jay: So each of the brands then, Double Tree, for example, has their own social media peeps. They've got their own apparatus. Obviously their own channels. And you and your team kind of come in to kind of stitch that together right, as a quilt of Hilton to make sure that everybody is, not doing the exact same thing, because each brand wants to do somewhat different things. But that there are standards and guidelines and then everybody sort of play in well together.
Sabrina: That's right. A couple years ago we started to look at all the teams that were on social and we were seeing the way that they're interacting on social, how they're interacting with each other, and started to actually talk to them and say, what can we help you with? As we're thinking through this center of excellence approach and how to make sure that they're set up to be best in class. How do we create materials that can give them the guidance and the governance and the legal protection that they all need to be able to go out there and execute seamlessly within their brand strategies.
Jay: And Sabrina, an interesting, I think, aspect of that is when you talk about these other brands. And let's just use Double Tree for the example. It's not just the people at corporate who are managing that brand, but in some cases it's actually people who are there actually on premises. At a property. Whether it's the general manager of the property or maybe it's the event coordinator or somebody like that. How do you work with all of those types of people who are such important stakeholders, who are in many cases kind of spokespeople for your brands?
Sabrina: That is a great question. So as you can imagine we have a massive hotel footprint, and it's not just in the US. My team supports all of global, so every brand globally, all the way down to the hotel level. So when we think of our stakeholders, we think of them almost in different levels of how we're trying to approach the support aspect from our team. So we're looking it from the enterprise level, then we're looking at it from ... And that includes our customer care team, our HR, like I said, our PR, our brands, those at the very corporate level.
Then you go down to your destinations and how they're supporting the hotels within their destinations. All the way down to the hotels and the interactions that they're having with their guests on property. And the way we've done that in the past is we used to have ... Back when I joined the team a couple years ago, we really took a look at the way we were providing support to those hotels because it was very heavily hotel centric for the focus. And because of that we were missing out on the opportunity to have a robust support plan for the enterprise. And so when we looked at the way we were supporting hotels at the time, it was extremely reactive. We had an inbox and they were coming to us with questions.
And we found that we were doing a lot of repetitive answers, right. And so we took a look at our approach, took a step back and said let’s re-envision this strategy and how do we help, not just the hotels, but all of our stakeholders that have a social presence that have been asking for more support centrally? And that's kind of where we've now come to with this center of excellence and what we're kind of the future that we have in mind.
So for the hotels specifically, going back to your question, what we did was we took a look at the inbox. We were receiving about 200 emails a week. We did a massive evaluation based on the data of the questions that we were getting from the different stakeholders that were submitting those questions. And what we did instead, is we took all of that and we started building out playbooks and guidance. And we built our first centralized social hub, if you will, where we could put all of that information there and store it, and point the hotels there and train them to use that as their one stop shop for all social resources.
And what we've seen is a massive adoption of it. So they're getting in there every day. We have actually over 33 hundred internal stakeholders who have elected to join our social hub. And we're getting, I think it's somewhere around, and let me just think for a second. I believe it was a little over 12,000 content views a month, of the content that we have in there. And it's all internal right, it's our hotels, it's our e-commerce managers, it's our brands. So that's how we measure success, we took that inbox and we took a reactive strategy that we had, and we made it proactive. And now it opened up our bandwidth and our ability to go out and hear the needs and then create guidelines based on those needs and house them there, allowing them to self service.
Jay: Does Hilton require or request or encourage individual properties to be active in social at the individual property level? And are there SLA's about that? You say, look if you are at Hilton Garden Inn, you will be on Twitter, you will be on Instagram. How does that work?
Sabrina: So every brand has their own set of brand standards for their hotels where social media is included. What we've done centrally is we've created a social media blueprint, if you will. And we've had it for a couple years now where it honestly starts all the way back with review site management. Right? So do you have someone on property who is listening to your guests? Because at the end of the day, that is the most important thing. Like are you hearing what your guest is saying about you before in pre-arrival, when they're on the property, and then when they're leaving? And you need to make sure that you have a resource ready to hear that and then do something about it right. It's not enough to say, oh we're sorry you had a bad experience. Or, hey thanks for coming. Right?
Are you listening to that feedback? And are you actioning it to solve for it? So that you don't have to have it again.
Jay: So that's Trip Advisor and Hotels.com.
Sabrina: Right. Any of it. Right, any of those traditional review sites. And that, I know we're not getting into this, but that's also under my remit within the social team, so we own the strategy around review site feedback. So for us this blueprint starts with that. Like make sure that you're taking care of-
Jay: As you should. You know if somebody's already said, I hear with my money, then clearly we should try to take care of them.
Sabrina: Exactly. And if you're not starting there, then our suggestion is, you're not prepared to jump into real time. Right?
Jay: Right. What we used to say to clients all the time is if you're not good at email, why are you worrying about Twitter? Like, let's figure-
Sabrina: Exactly. And so that's kind of our approach with that blueprint, is our way of saying, hey think about it strategically. Think about it from what you are signing up for by jumping into these channels. And for us, right, starting with review sites, we'll then, honestly it's thinking about as that hotel, what is your audience? Are you a business hotel? Does it make sense for you to be on Facebook? Are you more transient? You know, what does your audience actually look like and how do they want to engage with you?
Jay: Is that consistent from brand to brand? So I take from that statement a flag like courtyard, right. Courtyard by Marriott, which is not yours so that's sort of a known business hotel. That might not be a Facebook place because it's their composition of guests may not be as casual, is that what you're thinking about in that regard?
Sabrina: It could be brand. It also could be location. Right?
Jay: Oh sure. Near an airport versus not in an airport or something like that-
Sabrina: Airport, right. Or resort hotel, right. So like resort hotels are gonna be great for Facebook, but think of the potential they have for visuals and videos and Instagram, right? So it's thinking about what makes the most sense based on your hotel, your location, your audience and your resources to be able to manage those pages once you decide to set 'em up. And so that's kind of how we look at that.
You know it starts at the brands and making sure that they have the brand standards in place so that if you're a hotel you're aligning with your brand tone of voice, et cetera. But then from our guidance perspective it's actually thinking through the overall strategy and approach before you're joining those channels. Because it doesn't make sense [crosstalk 00:13:28].
Jay: Once you're there you can't say, well never mind we decided not to do Instagram.
Sabrina: Yeah, or as the GM right. Oh I checked that box, we're on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And it's like, oh great, well who's managing that? And how are you going about it? And how are you driving any business value for your hotel?
Jay: Do you try and give them a consistent score board? Is that part of what your team's working on? Like, hey all of the Hilton Garden Inns should use the same kind of social KPI's and metrics. Or, do people’s software stack vary so much that that's really hard to do? Or different brands maybe care about different things? Somebody cares about clicks more so than engagement. I'm just interested to see how consistent the measurement is from property type to property type.
Sabrina: Yup. So that's a good question. One of the things that we did all of 2017, and end of 2016, was a massive evaluation of all of the stakeholders. So the social team that I run, the operations team, we went out and talked to all the brands, all the stakeholders, including hotels, and our goal was to say, what are we driving for social? Right, what do we consider our ROI? What are we looking at in terms of standard KPI's, et cetera? But then also, how are we set up to actually measure that the way we need to?
So we took a hard look at the tech stack that we had in place and we started asking the questions. Like, is this giving us what we need? And if we had paused, the answer was no. And so it was thinking about it from a best in class approach of, okay how do we pull the measurement together and how do we connect everyone to where we can have a health check that allows us to have standardized measurement?
But to your point, it's not just gonna be, oh we have these KPI's and that's great and it will never veer from there. It depends on your goals at that time, and setting dashboards that can reflect those goals at any point in time. But the biggest part is to have all of the analytics in one place so that you can build a customized dashboard based on your goals at the time. And that's what we're doing right now is we're doing some pilots to help us kind of reimagine what our tech stack would look like, and build it to meet all of those needs for those stakeholders.
Jay: Sabrina, I'm curious how those KPI's are changing. I know one of the things that we're seeing in a lot of other businesses is using social to be able to understand your customer more. Kind of understand who they are. And obviously when they come to hilton.com and they login and they have their honors numbers and things like that, you know exactly who they are. But I know one of the challenges in your industry has been what is called the OTA's. It's the online travel agencies. In fact, what we were mentioning just before the hotels.com, the expedia.com, Trivago. Where basically that customer's kind of put on your property's doorstep and you really don't know who he or she is.
I'm curious if you're seeing the KPI's kind of changing as that becomes more important? And how you're kind of beginning to use social to be able to understand that @AdamCB on Twitter is this Hilton Gold honors member and who that person may be and what they like and what they don't.
Sabrina: So ideally that would be the overall, end all goal is to be able to have a system that allows you to one, hear that person in real time, but then automatically connect everything so that you have this internal customer profile. Where you can know your guest and not only know them based on their information and their status and their past history with you, but at the same time, know how they want you to talk to them, right? How do they want to be engaged with? And that's kind of shifting it from your question a little bit, but for me, those are the types of things that I'm sitting here trying to think through is using that data and the insights that we can start to learn. And thinking through, okay, how as a brand and as individual brands and as hotels, understand how our guests want to be engaged with and how their preferences can help us to then engage with them and enhance their experience?
So it doesn't matter what source they’re getting to us by, if they're hitting us on social we want to be able to take that data and take that real time engagement and do something with it to enhance their experience and customer journey along the way. Whether it's before or after, you know, maybe they're sharing UGC afterwards, how do we encourage that and thank them and build brand loyalty using that data?
Adam: I know one way you're doing a lot of that is with your Hilton suggest program, which is in some cases the random acts of kindness which is just absolutely incredible. And a lot of other things.
Jay: If only somebody could have written an entire book about Hilton Suggests. Almost. And that person would be me. [crosstalk 00:18:30]. That person would be me and in fact, my pal Vanessa [inaudible 00:18:33], who was one of the creators of that program was a guest on Social Pros, I think two times in the past. So here we are. It's the gift that keeps on giving, baby. @hiltonsuggests. And listeners, if you have not ever interacted with Hilton Suggests, pause the podcast, go to Twitter. You obviously know how to go to Twitter, you're listening to this show. And come up with some sort of random travel question @hiltonsuggests and they will answer you, it will make your day.
Please Adam, go ahead.
Adam: I couldn't. If that was the wind up, you just took the pitch, so thank you sir. I think for those who have decided not to pause because they're in the car or they're in transit and they're moving down the road at 65 miles an hour, Sabrina, tell us about Hilton Suggest because as Jay said, and it's Jay's book clearly shared with us, it's a pretty incredible program.
Sabrina: It sure is. I'm wondering if I should just turn it over to Jay and let him pick the question. So all hail Vanessa, right. I think honestly she created this amazing program that has done nothing but get audiences excited about the potential to connect with brands in an organic way. And the whole point of Hilton Suggest is this surprise and delight through Twitter and social engagement where we leverage our team members, who are our biggest asset and our local experts, right. So the way we have it built today is we have over 115 team members that are volunteering their time to represent their cities in a global fashion, so over 115 cities globally.
And these people are not just the person on property who's been handed social and has to figure it out. These people are the experts of their cities, they know it like the back of their hand. They're not gonna recommend a chain right down the road, they're taking you to the dive bar that you never would have found on your own. Right?
And so what we do is Adam, let's say you're heading to New York, and you're looking for something to do there and you throw out the question. [Vildonna 00:20:40] in New York will gladly jump in and she'll say, hey I see you're coming. And it's a completely organic engagement. And she can say, I see you're coming, you should try this XYZ pizza place, or this speakeasy, or one of these cool places that this person's travel would never have known about, had it not been for her.
And we're not jumping into that conversation to go sell the Hilton midtown or the Conrad New York or anything, we're jumping in to create a connection, an organic connection with guests that ultimately drives them down this loyalty path, right. And so last year our team members responded to almost 11,000 Tweets. But they sorted through close to 80,000. And we just asked them to get in, see where there are opportunities to engage, and then highlight that engagement and add a value to where they're looking at it as a guest or a customer, not necessarily a business. Right? Where you're trying to sell to someone.
Which for me, and obviously I'm following in Vanessa's footsteps here, but that is the true power of social media is creating that organic connection that makes guests want to come back to you and continue to engage with you.
Jay: It is, but it requires a significant degree of trust and patience. Because what's amazing about the Hilton Suggest and why it's the signature case study of my book Utility, is that you nailed it Sabrina. When your team interacts with people in Twitter, it's not, oh and by the way you should come on over to our hotel and have a free cinnamon roll. Right? Almost never does any of the advice mention a restaurant, a hotel, anything that you guys own. It's purely like this is just useful information.
And so I've had many many questions from people in audiences, because I've literally told this story 250 times in different conferences. And sometimes there's always a skeptic in every audience and they say, well jeez Jay, how much time and money is Hilton spending on a program like this when they're not actually trying to sell hotels? Well they are trying to sell hotel rooms, but it's over a much longer time horizon than you think. Because if you help Adam find a cool bar, someday Adam is gonna be making a hotel selection and he's gonna think of Hilton first because Hilton Suggests helped him when he needed help, but importantly, they did so without expectation of immediate return.
The problem with social media is that most brands want the quid pro quo, they want the return. They want the KPI, the metric. And they want it right now. The number of clients that we work with at Convince & Convert who say, what is the actual ROI return on each piece of social content? I'm like, well that's asking the wrong question. You know? I've seen e-commerce companies, Adam I'm sure you have too at Salesforce. Who are trying to do attribution modeling at the individual Facebook post level. Like how much money did we make off this Facebook post? And that's a very direct response, almost email way of thinking. And that's just not why social was invented.
So I think it's extraordinary that now many many years after Hilton Suggest was developed that the brand still supports it and even is growing that initiative, because I think it's a great lesson for a lot of brands who just don't have the requisite patience. And we talk about it on this show all the time, for so many people now social media is about media, not about social. And it warms my heart that at Hilton it's still about social, so great job Sabrina.
Sabrina: Thank you. And what I will say too is that we're thinking the same way, right? To like the longevity and the connection that you're creating with your guests. And the way that we're thinking about that from an analytics perspective. You know to your point is not having a specific KPI attached to every single post that we're doing. Like yeah we wanna roll out and understand how they're performing, but at the end of the day, is it resonating? Are you seeing sentiment growth? Are you seeing a brand list? Like what value are you actually getting out of it? Because social is the biggest word of mouth opportunity that's there.
And they're ready and willing to talk to you if you talk to them the way they want to be talked to. Right? Like no one wants to be sold to or pitched to 24/7. So how do you think of it creatively to provide them, your guests and your customers, a value add as well, versus just pushing a targeted ad towards them. So from an enterprise strategy, that's what we're constantly thinking through. And how do we support those teams to do that best in class and then figure out how to measure on the same time.
And then the other piece with Hilton Suggest too, is you know we jumped into it last year and really started to reinvigorate it. So we built a massive recognition program around it to keep our team members engaged and keeping them wanting to volunteer.
Jay: I think it's important real quick to point out that the people who do Hilton Suggest are not social media professionals. They are people in each hotel who have a real job, like they have a day job.
Sabrina: Exactly.
Jay: And like on the side, for free, they're answering questions from people. And I think that's a really important distinction. This is not your social team or brand social team or hotel's social team, it's like the bartender, or whatever.
Sabrina: Yes.
Jay: I just want people to know cool stuff to do in my town.
Sabrina: And the qualification is that you're passionate about sharing your love for your city, and you know it, right. And so for us that's been the biggest thing of taking what Vanessa started and saying, okay how do we keep this alive? And how do we keep it growing? And how do we keep the passionate people involved? But also continue to push it up to show leaders, both internally but also externally. So what do internally is a complete renovation of our sites, like our recruitment sites internally, but also we have our Hilton Suggest blog, and we completely redesigned it to where last year we started doing internal partnerships. So now when you go to a hotel, and you log into our wifi page on the hotel, we've integrated our destination blogs with the wifi landing page.
Where do we have opportunities to partner? With email or any of those. Like thinking through strategically, how do we put our content in more places? And with the Hilton Suggest blog it doesn't require a minimum participation of everybody. With our team members we're asking, not a lot of them, we're just asking them to do three Tweets minimum per week and get in there and find those opportunities. But the biggest thing is honestly, for us, is to think through how they can still add value to their cities and destinations through a blog? Right? How do they become a travel blogger? How do we encourage and motivate our team members to be passionate about their city when they don't have the time to commit every week?
And we've gotten so much interest around our blog we're now moving to two blogs a week. And we had close to 200,000 organic views of the blog last year, which is continually pushing us up. And that was with no paid, 'cause we just haven't put a massive page strategy behind it. We wanted to reevaluate it and redesign it. And it's picking up massively because of the interest from our team members who are the ones that make us passionate about that too.
Adam: I wanna come back to the blog in a second here, Sabrina. But I do wanna mention if our listeners want to know more about Hilton Suggest, they can go back in the time machine to April 2012 where Vanessa was a guest on, actually guest number 11 on episode 11 of the Social Pros.
Jay: 11 Adam, 11.
Adam: Way before my time.
Jay: Yes, that is 2012 you said?
Sabrina: Wow.
Jay: That was like several presidents ago, it feels like in internet years.
Sabrina you mentioned the blog and you mentioned how readership of the blog has increased. And I'm curious about that, that we're seeing this resurgence in blogs. But I'm really interested in how your team and the folks, the content teams who are building a lot of that blog content, which may be in fact part of your organization are working together so that you're sharing the insights from what's working on the blog with what seems to be resonating in social media from a customer service standpoint and vice versa.
Sabrina: Can you phrase the question again?
Jay: Absolutely. The interest in the blog and the subject matter that's being talked about on the blog, are you using those insights to inform kind of what you're doing from an engagement with guests? And vice versa, is what you're hearing and your customer service organizations, people who are reaching out to Hilton in social media, is that also being used to inform blog content and other content strategies for digital and social media at Hilton?
Sabrina: Right. So a lot of times the way our kind of blog strategy works is based on volunteers requesting to be able to write blogs. So a lot of times what we do is we have this massive content calendar and we start to look at it through what makes the most sense during the time of year, and thinking through it from a commercial perspective. But at the same time, what do customers wanna hear? Where are they traveling? What makes sense to them that would get them inspired to come to that destination that we can then use that destination content to drive traffic. And so thinking through it that way and that was part of redesigning the site is putting a customer journey on it for the first time.
So before it was just a static blog, and then you'd jump out. But now we're saying, let's think about this from a destination perspective. We're moving towards destination marketing and the way people think about searching and dreaming and being inspired and they think, you know they don't just say, oh yeah we're going on vacation and I'm gonna go to this exact hotel. Right? They're thinking about it down through the funnel, starting with, hey I think I wanna go on vacation where could I go?
And then they start to narrow it down to two destinations. And so for us, thinking about how they look on social, they're searching on web, they're looking at travel destination specials and email. How do we partner with them? And what we did was we took that approach and then we went and built a site and a blog site that kind of speaks to that commercial approach at the same time. So we're not trying to push them to book, but if they want to book and they're excited and motivated based on our destination blog, then we don't wanna have them jump off the site right? Keep continuing to look.
And so we added map functionality to the blog so they could look at content based on destinations. We then added a search functionality so they could start to look for hotels in those destinations if they're so interested. You know just kind of thinking about it from the way that customers now researching and the learnigns that we've been able to glean from that. And then taking that and putting it into our blog.
Adam: Sabrina, what I find is remarkable about this as well at the Hilton Suggest and all these things, that these are programs that probably wouldn't resonate well last click attribution metrics and things like that, as Jay articulated. These are longer term gains, but they've had such a profound success. I mean, even emotionally. I mean, I personally had experiences at your properties that lead to this, and I think it takes a brave marketing and communications and customer service leadership team to be able to push forward with programs like this. And I just wanted to remark at the remarkableness of that.
Sabrina: I appreciate that. Yeah, and what I will say is tons of credit to our leadership and executive team because they're not one to put you in a corner and say, go validate everything. Like we have our brand strategies, we have the hard KPI's and what we're trying to drive and how social becomes a part of that with an overall marketing strategy. But at the same time, the executives can see the value of additionally having these programs that have the long term longevity of driving brand lift at the same time.
My job hasn't been that difficult to defend it. It's been very nice for me.
Jay: You're lucky, for sure. Two quick things I wanna ask you before Adam jumps in and talks about your background a little bit. How are you fixed right now with your stakeholders on a couple things that we talked about a lot on this show that we're not really much around in social media in 2012 when we talked about Hilton Suggest the first time. The first is, live video and the other one is sort of geo-local socia,l HYP3R is one of the sponsors of this show, or has been. This idea of servicing a guest generated content while they're still on property and being able to interact with them in real time, whether it's a hotel or an event or a mall, those kind of things.
Are either of those things that you're working with your stakeholders on to bring to the social fold across the entirety of the Hilton portfolio?
Sabrina: So yes, that's the short answer. The long answer is, I'll start with the geo-focus. I think what we have really been thinking through as we're taking a fresh look at our tech stack is, like I said, thinking through all of the stakeholder needs. And one of the things I said at the beginning was the need to be able to connect with that guest in real time, while they're no property. So you know as well as I know, with your Hug Your Haters, people are giving constant feedback and they have been for a while, and they're doing so through social. And they want that acknowledgment and that service to take place in real time while they're on property.
If they're a week out and they're still mad about it, you missed them. You have an opportunity to increase thier experience and their overall satisfaction while they're on property, and that requires the ability to know that they're on property. Right? And so unless they come out and say, we are here, we're standing in line for 30 minutes and we're mad, it's leveraging the technology to help us surface those opportunities and very clearly show our hotel team that this is a live opportunity and you can turn around and make better. Right?
And so as we're looking at the tech stack, that's one of our key must haves to roll out at the hotel level is that support because the hotel teams have so much going on. They are running the front desk, they're running room service, they're taking care of the 50, 60 people standing in line.
Jay: Adam needs more towels, that's always the thing.
Adam: Yeah.
Sabrina: Exactly. He's always yelling at everybody so they're like, how do we take care of Adam? And honestly the challenge of that, they don't have time to go to Facebook natively and look at everything. And so we're trying to make it as efficient as absolutely possible. [crosstalk 00:35:57]. Exactly. And empower them then to say, hey here's an awesome opportunity for you to jump in and you can completely shift the mindset of this guest so that you don't then go get that trip advisor negative feedback, but then you have to then rectify. Right? We're trying to solve it in real time so we don't have to take the post stay feedback and try to fix it.
Jay: I love it. And on video, how's that going?
Sabrina: It differs, like I think our brands are jumping into that space and taking advantage of it. I think with the hotels it gets tricky because it goes back to that blueprint. And are they doing the basic things right. And I think you'll see some of the bigger hotels doing that. I think that most of the time they tend to shy away and I think the way that we're gonna approach that from a center of excellence position is giving them good clear guidelines around how to do that best in class and make it easy for them so that it doesn't create something that makes them nervous. Instead they can leverage it. So how do you have Instagram TV or Facebook Live or those things that the guests and customers are excited to see, or even on Instagram stories. Right? A lot of times you won't see hotels taking advantage of that because they're not exactly sure how to approach it.
And I think the ones that are ahead of the curve and doing it well do it well, but we can take those case studies and start to put together some bigger guidelines to help them feel comfortable in that space.
Jay: Like you said, at a lot of these properties they don't have a social media person. They don't have ... You know obviously the bigger resorts do and the bigger destination hotels may have a social media practitioner or somebody who's at least partially responsible for social, but most properties don't have somebody on staff who's doing social. So to say, well how come you're not doing more live video or IG TV or more whatever? It's like, well they want to but nobody actually has that role. And it probably [crosstalk 00:37:52] allow to pay somebody to have that role, or maybe it does, I'm not sure. But just from a staffing standpoint I imagine that's part of it, yeah?
Sabrina: Yeah, and I would say the hotels that I've spoken to, I have a hotel past here so with the last six years I've worked really closely with a lot of the hotels. And I will say a lot of them are asking. And a lot of them are saying, how do we do it? And what should we do? And they're asking the questions and they're motivated and excited. And we're not necessarily giving the feedback of, no we would never put someone in social on a property. I think they're saying, tell us how we should put someone in social on property. Right? What should we do? How do we play in this space? How do we make it better?
And for us we're saying, we could definitely give you guidance, but we need to give the actual support too, which comes in the measure of efficiency and technology to make sure that they don't get overwhelmed with the opportunity.
Adam: Well said, Sabrina. Sabrina Callahan, director of social media planning and integration for a wonderful hospitality brand. And one of the biggest hospitality brands in the world, Hilton. It is so great to have you on the podcast. And one of the things that we like to do at this time in the podcast is talk a little bit about your background because I think many of the listeners to the show are probably very envious of you. Of having this job and this role. And I'd love for you to talk a little bit about kind of how you got here. And specifically, five, ten years ago if you had any idea that you would be doing what you're doing today as we talk about using video and customer service and the Hilton Suggest, all these amazing things. How did you get here?
Sabrina: That's a good question, I'm trying to think. So I have a journalism background with an emphasis in PR. And so I'm extremely passionate about the ability to do storytelling and to think through opportunities to share stories and connect with audiences. And so that was kind of how I entered this space. I entered up in Dallas about eight years ago, I jumped into a startup company that focused on small to medium businesses and their entire web presence. And so what they did was they started giving these businesses support in the web space for social to Facebook, Twitter, all of that digital website. And then a blog.
And so I would manage it for a bunch of clients in Dallas. And what I ended up doing in that role was pointing out all the things that could be done better within that startup right. So saying, 'cause it was new and so for me it was problem solving and thinking of how to make the team more efficient and how to do all of these different analytics and measurement to show how we could add value as a company and as a startup. And so they gave me this unique role that was, alright go solve it then.
And in a startup fashion I'd be like, here's how we should do it. And they said, great and hand it to our product developers and they'll go do that with the tech. And so it was extremely exciting and that's where I got extremely passionate about it and I think that's where that started, is the ability to have an idea and then see it go from idea to execution, and then work. Like, oh my god we saw a result from that. Which was just the most, I think where I find the most passion and joy in just my day to day.
And so then I joined Hilton about a little over six years ago. When we first started the e-commerce program. So you know if a big corporation it was almost a startup type fashion of launching e-commerce to all of those hotels globally. And what was cool is I was also given the opportunity to have feedback during that too. And so I've constantly had leaders who have supported my curiosity and have welcomed my challenges to the way current processes are being done. But I come at it with a recommendation view. Right? Like here's how we're doing things today, here's how I think we could potentially do it. And I think this would be the business result. And they'll let me go test things.
So I kinda had that passion coming into the e-commerce space. I got a ton of opportunity. I got to support the New York market, the Hawaii market, some really big hotels. You know those in LA. Where they then empowered me to think with a fresh perspective and challenge the way they were doing things to drive digital revenue. And so that kind of led to this opportunity and also a little bit of a reputation for myself to think outside the box and think strategically and question everything.
So whether you liked it or not, if I didn't think that it was the best approach I'm going to say something. But I'm gonna come at it with a positive approach and a thorough thought out recommendation to how it could be better. And so I think it was a good fit in a social space because it's changing constantly overnight. And there was tons of opportunity with a technology that changes ever day and platforms and vendors and so many stakeholders in this space, to think through where are all of the opportunities that we can improve from an enterprise perspective? And I was empowered from day one to say, if yo don't like something go change it. Like figure out what you wanna do.
And so that's what I've been doing for the last two years.
Jay: Sabrina I have one question for you, what is your favorite hotel?
Sabrina: No. Man. I didn't prep for this question Jay. I would say the hotel that I probably love the most is gonna be the Palmer House in Chicago.
Jay: Yeah.
Sabrina: Have either of you been there?
Jay: Yes.
Adam: I've stayed there at least three or four times.
Sabrina: Yeah, I mean I've been to quite a few hotels and that one just takes my breath away every time. And I love the city and just the feel of that hotel. And that massive lobby with the ceiling just gets me every time.
Jay: That's a good one. Good steaks in that place too.
Sabrina: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jay: Sabrina we're gonna ask you the two questions that we've asked every single guest on this show, including your friend Vanessa back at episode 11. What one tip would you give somebody who's looking to become a social pro like you?
Sabrina: When you're looking at strategy and overall enterprise approach to social, my biggest word of advice is to constantly think of how you can test and learn to be better. It's not good enough to say this is good enough. I think what you have to say is, could it be better? And when it's changing every day, of course it can be better. Right? So I just never accept the way we are today to be good enough, I'm constantly looking for the opportunities to identify gaps and make it better both for our internal customers for social, as well as our external customers.
Jay: That is well said, I like that. You like that one Adam?
Adam: I do.
Jay: That's a good one. Sabrina, last question for you. Thanks so much for being on this show. If you could do a video call with any living person, who would it be?
Sabrina: This is tough. I'm going back and forth on this one. It is. This is a hard question.
Jay: Is this gonna be some like some sort of Candace University basketball reference, is that what's coming? [inaudible 00:44:52].
Sabrina: I wish. [crosstalk 00:44:54].
Jay: Is that what you were gonna say? Or [crosstalk 00:44:56].
Sabrina: Oh man, Bill South, if I could get Bill South on the phone that would be a fun conversation. Start asking him all about last year. And you should see me during March Madness in his office, it's basically like I'm screaming at the TV or my computer or I'm on a call and I'm half paying attention. I have that problem during March.
I would say I think at this stage in my life and in my career I would have to say Michelle Obama is probably the one that really every time I start to think through this I come back to her. And I think it has to do with I saw her speak at a conference live and I was just so inspired by her and her approach and her tone. You know, it's not about the politics, she breaks down barriers and has real conversations with people and can get them to think through things with this very just honest approach.
And for me, I think that her value that she instills with in her family and how important family is to her, that also I think that some of the things that are near and dear to me is, I have two kids. Two little kids. And I have one on the way and so-
Jay: Congratulations.
Sabrina: Education is ... Oh thank you. So education's really big for me and she just is constantly pushing for both a fit life and education for kids. And for me that's something that really hits home and she's completely inspiring to me.
Jay: I love it. I've got a new idea for you. How about @hiltoneducates and people you just answer math problems. That combines your [crosstalk 00:46:28].
Sabrina: That's not me then. [crosstalk 00:46:30].
Jay: Not you, yeah. Math concierge. You just spread it out, you just help kids with their homework, right. And that way you get them hooked on Hilton while they're still in high school. There you go. That one's straight.
Sabrina: I love it. Appreciate it.
Jay: That's why I'm a strategist. Sabrina Callahan, director of social media planning and integration from Hilton, thanks so much for being on the show. It was delightful to have you here.
Sabrina: Thank you guys so much for having me, this was so fun.
Jay: And Sabrina told us before we started that it's her first podcast that she's ever been on, if you can believe that.
Adam: I don't believe it.
Jay: Not only is she a rock star, but she's great on air as well. So many more coming your way I'm sure. Sabrina thanks so much for being here.
Sabrina: Thank you so much I appreciate it.
Jay: Friends, we have another amazing guest coming up next week, Cassie Romas gonna be on the show. She is an extraordinary storyteller. Auckland, New Zealand by way of Santa Barbara, California has background with Air New Zealand and a ton of other huge brand. She is hilarious. She'll be on the show next week. I'll be there. Adam will be there. Hopefully you'll be there too. Thanks so much for listening to the show, we treasure each and every one of your ear holes. Until then, this is Jay Bayer from Convince & Convert, he's Adam Brown from Salesforce marketing cloud and this has been Social Pros.
 
Show Full Transcript
Close