‘Ladies and gentlemen posting to ladies and gentlemen’

?Ladies and gentlemen posting to ladies and gentlemen?

Apologies in advance to Horst Schulze, the legendary hotelier and current CEO of the West Paces Hotel Group. When Horst led the Ritz-Carlton brand to prominence, he was renowned for his emphasis on fine service and for his staff-empowering mantra: “ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.”  

The phrase came to mind recently when I sat down for coffee with Horst’s daughter Alexis Schulze at The Setai Fifth Avenue, a Capella Managed Hotel in New York City. (Capella Hotels and Resorts is one of West Paces’ brands.)

Alexis Schulze

As corporate director of social media, Alexis is overseeing the social media program for the brands within the West Paces Hotel Group, and the questions of “Who should post?” (to Facebook) or “Who should Tweet?” were up for discussion. 

The Setai Fifth Avenue had opened months prior, and a new Facebook page for the hotel had amassed nearly 3,000 initial followers. The first posts had been generated by the hotel’s PR agency with good early engagement, but Alexis correctly believed there was great potential in empowering additional staff to post or, at least initially, encouraging staff to suggest content or capture images that the agency could post.  

She’s just right, of course. Although “ladies and gentleman posting to ladies and gentlemen” may not be a phrase that catches on anytime soon (to be clear — Alexis wasn’t suggesting such a description, I just couldn’t resist paraphrasing her Dad) the general principle that a hotel will benefit from “on-site” posts is a valuable one. 

If a hotel has launched its social media platform/s with posts only from an outside agency, then I’d recommend a few initial steps. First, identify staff with potential for involvement. A member of the communications or sales team who is conversant with the hotel’s “brand positioning” might be the best place to start, though we’ve found useful advocates in roles as diverse as spa director, director of food and beverage and even watersports manager!

Next, arrange for agency training or outside training on “best practices,” remembering that an individual’s aptitude for social networks in their personal life is not always training enough.  

Begin getting the on-site representative involved by asking them to capture content that the agency itself will post (identify opportunities for the staffer to take photos or video that won’t interfere with any guest experiences). You might, for instance, start with shots of other employees — such as the bartender mixing the hotel’s signature cocktail. Even then, it’s important to ask the employee being photographed to sign a standard release form.  

Eventually, you can move to permitting direct posts from selected employees, with guidelines on areas of emphasis and responsibility. The sense of immediacy and the “connectedness” of the social media community to the hotel will be enhanced. As Alexis Schulze put it, “Guests don’t want a relationship with a hotel, they want a relationship with real people.” 

I’d love to hear your experiences or opinions on employee posts, so please do let me know!