Hotels are devising social media platforms to keep guests talking…and posting. More than 80% of lodging professionals said in a recent SmartBrief whitepaper sponsored by The Wall Street Journal that they try to engage as much as possible. Individual properties are harnessing their social media channels with original content to create their own identities and reach out to guests on a personal level. Here’s how some hotels are creating channel growth:
1. Le Méridien partnered with Air France in 2012 to send a photographer around the world to capture iconic images and post them in an online gallery. Followers voted on their favorites through Facebook, and the winners were displayed in an exhibition. The contest also awarded airline tickets and a hotel stay to one fan.
In 2013, Le Méridien used Instagram for a campaign called “Filters of Discovery.” It chose three photographers with large Instagram followings and sent them to Paris, San Francisco and New Delhi, where they posted photos using the hashtag #LMfilters.
“I wanted to take an approach that felt authentic and has a sense of discovery,” said George Fleck, VP of global brand management for Le Méridien and Westin. “The question was, how do you activate the brand so it doesn’t feel commercial but is a beautiful content strategy?”
2. At the Westin Puntacana Resort & Club, which opened December 2013, hotel managers regularly respond to guest reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor. Because it’s a new hotel, the comments are a way to set the tone as well as get feedback on improvements. The replies are specific and note any additional follow-up. Westin provides a social media “playbook” to guide property-level managers on communicating in the brand’s voice.
“We encourage hotels, whether on TripAdvisor or our own ratings and review sites, to engage with customers whether it’s a positive or a negative review,” Fleck said. “We hope they’re doing it in real time, when they’re there and recover from any service issues. Or if it’s positive, we can learn from the stay and make it even better.”
3. Making headlines is a sure-fire strategy to get guests tweeting or posting on Facebook. Affinia Manhattan, the official hotel of the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show for the past 16 years, created a VIP dog lounge during this year’s event in New York City. The property, across the street from Madison Square Garden, offered an outdoor play area, treadmills, chew toys and treats for dogs.
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