“We want to be there when someone transforms the recommendations of their friends into booking a reservation,” said David Godsman, vice president for global Web services for Starwood Hotels. “If they press the ‘Like’ button, we want to start a conversation.” He said he viewed his company’s Facebook pages as a way to extend Starwood’s relationship with its customers “from the 10 days they stay with us, to all year long.” Starwood has Facebook pages for 1,000 hotel properties across its nine brands.

Hotels need to make sure that their booking engines can be found wherever the customer is, rather than asking the customer to search them out, said Glenn Withiam, a spokesman for Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration, which recently held a hotel industry conference that examined social media.

Offering reservations directly helps to keep the conversation between the hotel and its guests, Mr. Withiam said. He added that using social media to communicate took the relationship beyond the booking transaction. The hotel can find out what pillow guests prefer, the drinks they want in the minibar or the type of room they need. Personalized service can keep a guest coming back, he said, and that, in turn, helps hotels hold the line on room prices.

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