Monday, December 17, 2012

The 12 Days of Conference - Day Seven

As we prepare for 2013 I am hosting a series of blog posts called "The 12 Days of Conference".  Each day a different expert from the meeting, convention planning, speaking and hotel industries will add their single best idea on how to create better events or other tips for how to improve the "Conference Attendee Experience" in the new year.

Hashtags & Hoteliers:
Network Outside the Ballroom
Increase ROI of Conference Registration Fees and Travel Costs!
By Valerie Sparks

When a hotel sales professional returns from a meetings industry annual conference, the #1 goal is to show Return on Investment (ROI) on the hefty registration fee and travel costs. He or she will look better to a boss with new RFPs and business cards collected.

An opportunity to exceed these goals is available, and has been for a number of years. Why aren't the majority of hoteliers taking advantage of it?

Virtual Conference Networking via Twitter Hashtags

Hoteliers have an opportunity to increase business development productivity during an annual meetings industry conference by engaging qualified meeting planners, virtually, via Twitter. By tweeting an assigned conference hashtag before, during, and after a conference, one’s individual hotel property or brand will be exposed to a larger audience of meeting planners. Let’s say one hotelier is attending a conference with 300+ planes in attendance, how many new relationships can that hotelier realistically expect to make on the trade show floor or at designated networking events? Imagine engaging an additional 50+ planners, virtually, all through Twitter.

What is a Hashtag?

A hashtag is a word or stream of letters after a pound symbol. Two examples of hashtags used on a daily basis are #hotelprofs and #eventprofs. The first allowing hoteliers to exchange industry related trends and the second allowing any business related to the meetings and event industries to gain better exposure to a targeted meeting planning community.

On December 14th (2012) alone, 541 separate tweets included #eventprofs.

Another type of hashtag is one assigned for a specific annual conference. These hashtags are typically only utilized around the dates of the actual conference. Examples: #hpnglobal and #HSC2012

HPN Global 2012 Annual Partners Conference - Omni Dallas - #hpnglobal
Between Dec 9th – Dec 17th
  •           Total tweets including #hpnglobal: 250
  •           Total hotelier accounts used #hpnglobal: 5

Holiday Showcase 2012 Annual Conference - Hyatt Chicago - #HSC2012
Between Dec 10th – Dec 15th
  •           Total tweets including #hsc2012: 350
  •          Total hotelier accounts that used #HSC2012: 3

For a hotelier, this data screams OPPORTUNITY!

I am not referring to a hotel’s already existing Twitter account, but rather, a personal Twitter account.


Before diving in head first, ensure the following of your new Twitter account:
  • Professional headshot; preferably photo from LinkedIn for consistency and better recognition.
  • Short professional bio; making it clear the hotel/hotel brand represented.
  • Any tweets written or re-tweeted should be professional, positive, and relevant to those in the meetings and events industries.
  • Friends don’t let friends Drink and Tweet. Meetings industry conferences are not shy about the alcohol. Ensure you do not allow social media and alcohol to mix. 
 Action Steps 
1.      Go to Twitter and build a free account.
2.      Link your Twitter account to your LinkedIn profile. Instructions Here3.      Don’t freak out. You don’t need to tweet anything right away. No one is following you, so no one will read your tweets anyway.
4.      Think to yourself, “Wow, I’m 95% ahead of the pack in getting more ROI out the next attended meetings related annual conference.”

Opportunities for Continual ‘Social Media for Business Development’ Related Learning

Request to join these private LinkedIn Groups (850+ members each):
     Valarie Sparks (formerly Wilder) recently left a successful 13-year hotel management career to conduct Social Sales Training Workshops for hotel sales and meetings professionals. Her workshops increase business development productivity utilizing the LinkedIn and Twitter platforms. 

Valarie Sparks
Social Sales Training Consultant | Speaker | Hotel Sales and Meetings Professionals
Follow on Twitter: @Sparking_Social
Connect on LinkedIn

1 comment:

Henry said...

mm... If you don't mind a follow-up question, what are, in your opinion, the business advantages of getting a hashtag pushed on Twitter. Have you ever gotten a new client because of one of those, for example?