Are tweeting concierges here to stay?

UK budget hotel chain Premier Inn this week announced that it would offer guests a Twitter concierge service, but how useful are such services?

Premier Inn's idea is simple - guests can tweet questions to the @PremierInn account using the hashtag #concierge, asking anything from directions to restaurant recommendations.

The hotel says that it's the first UK hotel chain to introduce such as concept, but it doesn't seem entirely convinced - it's running the service as a trial on Friday evenings to see if it has proved of value to guests.

It's not, of course, the first global chain, as Hyatt introduced its Twitter concierge back in 2009 and now has over 12,000 followers, with a "small number of agents" working to monitor and respond to tweets.

A year on, while Hyatt's service is still working, the limitations of the concept have meant other brands have been slow to launch their own services.

Twitter's format means that communication will invariably be somewhat stilted; multiple suggestions must be delivered through multiple tweets and there is always a need for extreme brevity.

A study by the University of California Berkeley and Yahoo! even found that while concierges are happy to make strong recommendations in person, they are reticent to do so on Twitter, when guests can't be engaged in a dialogue to understand their needs and desires.

Perhaps this is why chains have opted to arm their concierges with other, richer, tools instead of Twitter - InterContinental staff were given iPads this year, for instance, and the chain's "Virtual Concierge" service provides videos and recommendations for guests from dedicated websites.

Sheraton, meanwhile, offers Microsoft Surface computers as virtual concierges, enabling guests to touch tables to research restaurants or plot a walking tour.

Wyndham's Fashion26 hotel in New York, meanwhile, offers guests a free app to help them find their own way around the city, something several other chains are rumored to be working on.

Premier Inn on Twitter @PremierInn
Hyatt Concierge on Twitter @HyattConcierge

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