Friday, March 23, 2012

An Interview with Eric Rattner at Hospitality eBusiness Strategies, Inc.

I had a Skype interview with Eric Rattner, Account Executive at Hospitality eBusiness Strategies (HeBS Digital) in my social media class yesterday. Eric graduated in the Hospitality Management Program at SU in 2011. Before joining HeBS Digital, Eric completed several internships in hotels and restaurants. I felt delightful of speaking with him about his job search tactics as a student, his current position and company, in addition to the internet-marketing and social-media trends. Here are some highlights of our conversation:

Job Search Tactics as a Student

Eric began building a network both online and offline when he was a student. He was informed by one of his connections regarding the job opportunity at HeBS Digital. Then, he applied for the position on LinkedIn, went through the interviewing process, and secured the job offer.

Eric shows us a great example of finding jobs online. As a matter of fact, 89% of the U.S. companies are relying on social networking sites for recruiting. Among them, LinkedIn accounts for 73% of the internet hires through social media (Wright, 2012). Job seekers have no choice but to practice the social-media job-search tactics.  

Work at HeBS Digital

HeBS Digital is an e-marketing firm that helps clients develop internet strategies and design/manage their websites and social media accounts. HeBS Digital is growing and has won many awards over the past 10 years. Eric loves the company and enjoys what he is doing. Besides the technical skills, having good work ethics, being reliable and professional, and being able to take responsibilities are important in HeBS Digital.

Everything Eric said is important for a student who starts his/her professional life. I hope students will appreciate the expectations and rules set by their professors. It would be easier for a professor to teach the content of a subject (i.e. the technical skills) without paying attention to other aspects of education. I, however, believe that a good professor should also “train” students how to be a good citizen (e.g. work ethics and professionalism) and how to think independently (e.g. critical thinking and problem-solving skills). Things like arriving on time, showing respect to others, remaining undistracted by cellphones, and participating in class discussion may seem “silly” but crucial in preparing students for the real-world settings, would you agree?

Internet Marketing and Social Media Trends

According to Eric, it is always important to measure the effectiveness of a company’s social media strategy. Pinterest and Google Plus are new but emerging platforms. Companies also need to pay close attention to Google Social Integration and see how it may affect SEO (Search Engine Optimism).

In the past, I have noticed that some hotel chains set up social media profiles for the brand in the corporate level while many others allow each property to create/manage its own social media accounts. Restaurants, on the other hand, often manage their social media accounts in the corporate level. Eric suggested that having a social media account in the property level allows more personal conversation between a hotel and those customers who actually stay in that hotel. I agree, but I also feel that each hotel brand, in the corporate level, should have an active account in all major social media profiles. Similar to sales and promotions, a hotel chain can broadcast a commercial in a national network while at the same time, individual hotel properties can put an advertisement in a local magazine or video. Why can’t a hotel chain have many social media accounts, one in the corporate level and the others in the property level? 

Social media and internet marketing is important for every business and definitely a growing field. HeBS Digital is now hiring, so as many other social media firms. Surprisingly, according to a recent study by the Society of Human Resource Management, only 12% of the companies being surveyed reported that they have at least one full-time employee who is managing the organization’s social media activities (Leonard, 2012). This could be a very exciting finding for students and job seekers who are interested in social media because there will be many job openings in the field soon when the other 88% of companies finally realize the importance of having full-time social media staff. My suggestions to students who want to work in the social media field include: (a) take some relevant courses in social media --- also think about what other skills required for a social media officer, will other seem-to-be-irrelevant classes be helpful in building some transferable skills? (b) begin building a personal brand as a social media expert  by engaging in intellectual conversations online; and (c) network, both online and offline.

I very much appreciate Eric’s insightful information. What are your thoughts about this interview? Any suggestions or comments for me, students, and other social-media professionals?

Interested in my conversation with Eric Rattner? Please check out the tweets about this interview on #HPM200 Guest Speaker @rattner31

References:
Bill Leonard. (2012, March). Your active role in social media policies. HR Magazine, p. 105. 
Aliah D. Wright. (2012, March). Your social media is showing: A candidate’s online presence may say more than a resume. HR Magazine, p. 16.