An article last week in the Wall Street Journal caught my attention. The piece is about how travelers can often get room upgrades or extra perks if they are tech savvy enough. For companies, like hoteliers, this isn’t about rewarding a client, most times it is about doing damage control. One message on Twitter or Facebook that talks negatively about a company or its brand can have a damaging effect. Likewise, a positive message basically becomes free marketing for the company.
I’ll be honest. I’ve used Twitter exactly in the way the Wall Street Journal article talks about. My family was coming into town to run a marathon and the size of our party had grown to 20 relatives. As all good marathoners know, the night before it is crucial to load up on carbohydrates so my family opted for pizza. It was my job to make the reservation. I picked my favorite pizza joint in the city and called for reservations.
The person who answered the phone took my name and number and said a manager would need to call me back. An hour later the manager called to say they do not take reservations but my party could be put on a first priority list which would mean the usual 2-hour wait would be cut down to an hour. I tried to explain how that just could not work, especially since half the party was under the age of 15 and wouldn’t be able to sit around for an hour waiting to be seated. The manager apologized. There was nothing he could do. I asked him to put my name on the list and then hung up the phone in shock. No reservation. For a party of 20?! Not good.
Without too much thought I took to Twitter and posted a message about how disappointed I was that my favorite pizza place would not accommodate my party for the following night. It started a conversation with a couple other locals and then, to my surprise, the restaurant joined the conversation too and apologized but repeated that there was nothing they could do. And that was when I realized, there was potential here.
Over the next 24 hours, I debated on Twitter where to take my family and if 20 people would be able to wait an hour for a table. Then as I was in line to get my bib number for the race I got a phone call from the restaurant confirming my reservation for 7pm. Confused I asked for clarification and was told they would be able to seat me on time, with absolutely no wait. Of course, I took to Twitter again lauding the restaurant for taking the reservation.
And I tweeted my joy of being seated on time, and the pizzas we ordered, and the amazing staff that was so accommodating. The restaurant’s Twitter account retweeted my message and wished me luck on the following days race. Success!
I believe that day was the day I officially understood the true worth of Twitter and its amazing marketing potential.