Embracing Social Media Technologies In Kauai

December 29, 2010

6:40 pm

In true digital nomadic fashion, I spent the last month on the road with stops in San Diego, where we hosted our final Tech Cocktail mixer event of the year, and then in Kauai for a “work-cation”, which is defined as a trip where at least some tasks for your regular work must get done each day (in my case, all normal tasks) before any actual vacationing activities take place (covered on my personal blog). During some of those post-work hours in Kauai, I visited one of the finest resorts I’ve seen – the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort.

Upon arrival I checked in with Foursquare and posted a photo to Twitter via Instagram. Of course it was of the sunset and cocktails as the day was winding down, but within just a few minutes of posting a photo and checking in, I received an @reply on Twitter from the Grand Hyatt Kauai. Just minutes later I met the social ambassador, Joshua Olayer, of the Grand Hyatt Kauai. Armed with an iPad, he was wandering the resort while monitoring the social geo-location checkins and Twitter posts, ready to turn real-time, social technology data into real life connections. Sort of like a modern-day Julie McCoy “Social Media Cruise Director” for the Grand Hyatt, clipboard replaced by iPad.

Since becoming a friend to the Grand Hyatt Kauai on Foursquare I would get daily shoutouts about the latest happenings. For example, one evening there was live music while another evening there was an authentic luau. It was the first time I had seen a resort utilize the shoutout functionality to stay top of mind and continue the conversation with its friends.

I was happy to see the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort using social media technologies, so I asked their social ambassador Joshua Olayer a few questions about their strategy and usage of social technologies.

Tech Cocktail (TC): Can you share how the Grand Hyatt Kauai has been leveraging social media & technology?
Joshua Olayer (JO): We are using social media as a customer service arm.  We do promote special offers but the real value is in the customer interaction, making people feel like they have a friend here when they arrive, while they’re here and when they depart.

TC: How long have you been using social media & technology at Grand Hyatt Kauai?
JO: We’ve used social media since March 2009

TC: How has the use of social media & technology helped business?
JO: Difficult to measure, we certainly get more friends & followers when we have contests.  For those that use social media, a personalized, quick response is key so being there to provide that level of customer service improves people’s perceptions of us as a business.

TC: What are some of the challenges you have faced adopting new social tools at the Grand Hyatt Kauai?
JO: Well, we really just jumped in feet first & started swimming, it is such a new medium that no one really knows its impact.  In the very early stages, convincing the upper level management that it was a good idea and good use of time was a challenge but now they have fully bought in & see the value in the personalized nature of it.

TC: How important is the ROI of the use of social media and technology at the Grand Hyatt Kauai?
JO: Well, it is impossible to truly measure the ROI so it has not been addressed as an issue.  It is a form of public relations which has also always been challenged to accurately measure ROI.  Fortunately the value is recognized both by our management team as well as at the corporate level with a newly created high-level position in the Public Relations department for a VP of Social Media.

Thank you, Josh, for taking the time to anwser our questions and Mahalo for your hospitality while we were staying in Kauai. Your posts keep Kauai fresh in our mind, so we hope to be back soon!  For a little taste of Kauai, become a fan of the Grand Hyatt Kauai on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @GrandHyattKauai – the photos might make you want to jump on a plane.

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Frank Gruber is the cofounder, CEO and Executive Editor of Tech.Co (formerly Tech Cocktail). He is the author of the book, Startup Mixology, Tech Cocktail’s Guide to Building, Growing, and Celebrating Startup Success. He is also a startup advisor and investor to startups. Find Frank Gruber online and follow him on Twitter at @FrankGruber.

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