Membership Monday: Meet SMCHI Pro, Mae Russell


With this post, we introduce a new monthly feature: Membership Monday. Our Pro membership is comprised of digital professionals, innovators, and leaders from a wide array of (some unexpected) disciplines. To showcase this diversity, each month we’ll introduce you to one of our Pro members and share their insights on social media. Are you a SMCHI Pro interested to be profiled in a future month? Contact Jen Barrett to learn more.

Mae snowboardingWhile “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” Mae Russell did not.
After 10 years in Nevada, she returned to O‘ahu to reunite with family and friends. The downside? She discovered a passion for snowboarding and skiing while living on the mainland, a pastime she now misses tremendously. Nevertheless, Mae’s an island girl at heart and lives by the motto “Live to eat!” When she’s not out discovering new restaurants and feasting with loved ones, she enjoys time spent with her mom, boyfriend, and furry, four-legged daughter Mia, an 8 year old Lhasa Apso.

Where did her 15+ year marketing career begin? Upon receiving her BA in Public Relations (with honors) from Hawai‘i Pacific University, she moved to Las Vegas, Nevada. Despite the many distractions of Sin City, she completed her Masters in Organizational Management at University of Phoenix (again, with honors – she’s one smart cookie). Her past marketing roles include serving as:  the Advertising, Special Events, Database, and Direct Marketing Manager for Fitzgeralds Casino; the Promotions & Special Events Manager for Station Casinos; and the Marketing Manager for the Palms Casino & Resort.

Currently, Mae serves as the Corporate Marketing Manager for Aston Hotels & Resorts. In this role, she’s involved with advertising, promotions, public relations, social media, and brand marketing.

Q: How are you currently using social media in your job?

Mae RussellI use social media on a daily basis to engage existing fans and followers, and grow these audiences, on both English and Japanese social media sites. Various promotions and special offers are developed and delivered to our database of fans and followers which we monitor and track on a daily basis. Strong engagement is important to Aston. We’ve noticed that our customers don’t always want to read about our latest special on rooms.

Q: Describe a social media challenge and how you overcome it.

It’s very important to handle a bad comment or review quickly and delicately, especially in the hotel and hospitality industry. I always do my best and go the extra mile to keep our customers happy.

This starts by ensuring I understand their complaint before I contact the general manager of the property. Many times, I ask the customer to contact me directly. It adds a special touch when the customer knows your name and has direct contact with you. Customers like to know who’s helping them solve their complaint. Next, I contact the property to research the complaint. After all the information is compiled, I respond back to the customer with an apology for their experience. When a complaint needs special attention, I will email Aston’s “Quality Ops” team which encompasses upper-level management and executives. They review the customer’s complaint and the background research that I’ve provided them and make a decision as to how to resolve the guest’s complaint. At that time, a personal letter will be mailed to the guest signed by a member of our executive level management team.

My response is never defensive towards the customer. I always try my best to make the customer happy with the outcome. Customers feel appreciated when they know their concerns are addressed and a solution and/or apology is offered. Aston’s marketing tagline is: Leaving Lasting Impressions. L – Listen, A – Apologize, S – Solve, and T – Thank. You always want to leave a positive and memorable “LAST”-ing impression with your customer.

Q: What’s one social media tool or platform you couldn’t live without?

Seeing as Aston has 26 properties, I definitely could not live without Hootsuite. I like its user-friendly dashboard which works great for managing and measuring our many social networks.

Q: Name a mistake businesses make with social media.

The number one mistake I’ve observed businesses make with social media is only responding to people making negative comments. Too many positive comments are never acknowledged.

When businesses focus solely on the negative comments to try and mend the issue, they fail to show appreciation to the customers leaving kudos and positive reviews.

A quick and simple “thank you” and “we appreciate your kind words” can go a long way with customers, especially when they’ve taken time to share their positive experience.

Q: Where do you see social media headed in Hawai‘i?

I see social media in Hawai‘i growing bigger and stronger, especially with businesses, both large and small.

I’ve seen many more webinars, classes, and functions showcasing social media. I’ve also observed many successful special events have a higher ROI and foot traffic due to social media efforts.

Although many of us are familiar with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, I’ve definitely seen an increase with those who now use LinkedIn.

Q: What exciting initiatives are you working on and can share with us?

Be on the look out for a major promotion we’re launching in the Fall. It’s one of my favorites!

Q: What made you join Social Media Club Hawai‘i?

An Aston co-worker told me about SMCHI about a year ago. He would always tell me how he loved attending your informational functions and what event you have next.

I also heard wonderful things about SMCHI from Gwen and decided to sign up as I knew this is “the” club to be in!

Are you a SMCHI Pro interested to be profiled in a future edition of Membership Monday? Contact Jen Barrett to learn more.