Social media offers hotel owners and managers a wealth of information at their fingertips, but being able to access it all can be a challenge. With so many outlets that allow guests to share pictures and thoughts about a hotel—Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and Instagram, just to name a few—it’s virtually impossible for one individual to keep track of everything that’s posted online.
That’s why Perry Evans introduced Perch, a free app that allows small business owners to watch their competitors’ activity on various social media sites. Users can monitor a streaming feed of social posts, reviews, promotions, and social images to see what’s working for other local businesses. Evans is the CEO and founder of Closely, the Colorado-based company that launched the app in October 2012. Perch has grown to approximately 34,000 users, up from about 20,000 at the end of last year, and it won Best Business App at the 2013 Appy Awards.
While Perch is geared toward small businesses in general, Evans says it has proven to be particularly beneficial to hotel owners and managers. Users can stay connected with the community by watching local hotels, restaurants, and venues to discover events and activities happening nearby. “Our focus has really been around helping a small business owner or a manager of a local franchise operation with a mobile, real-time way to stay in touch with everything that’s going on around them in the digital world, if you will,” says Evans, a former president of MapQuest and past executive with Jabber and Local Matters. “It’s sort of overwhelming today for somebody at a local level to really stay on top of Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Instagram, Foursquare, and promotions that are running in the marketplace.”
Evans describes Perch as a true live application because users see events and activities on their smartphone as they happen in a simplified way. Simplification, according to Evans, is key to small business owners or marketing managers engaging in a thicket of social media sites. “We created a way for you to simply search and watch a personal list of everything that’s going on,” Evans says. “We then aggregate for each of those locations. So if you click on something that was posted by the Four Seasons Hotel, you can see what they’re doing on Twitter, you can see what they’re doing on Facebook, you can see what consumers are saying about them in reviews, you can see what consumers are posting on Instagram, and all of that is brought together in a simple, time-based feed, much like Twitter works.”
As the user scrolls, Perch identifies what posts are most popular through likes, comments, and re-tweets, helping managers learn what works and what doesn’t. “The concept is really simple,” Evans says. “It’s a mobile application that gives you a live view of everything that’s going on with your business, and your own personal list of competitors, nearby businesses, or activities that are going on near your establishment.”
Evans points to Instagram as an untapped resource for many hotels, a resource that Perch makes it easy to follow. Marketing opportunities are created each time an Instagram user posts a photo about a positive experience at a hotel. “Clicking through that photo and liking it or commenting on it saying, ‘so glad you came in for your anniversary’ or’ glad you loved the view’…gives you a chance to build your brand in a very organic, word-of-mouth way.”