The hospitality industry is notoriously fickle. To get ahead and stay on top in this competitive hotbed, hotel marketing leaders need to stay wise to what customer groups want — and deliver the perks their customers haven’t yet even thought of. Fortunately, social media and other digital communication platforms are making it easier to find out what folks are saying about your business. But beware, these tools are also dramatically raising the bar for service expectations.
“Social media makes it possible for customers and employees in every part of the hotel to fundamentally influence strategic decisions,” explains Janice Zoeller, Director of Sales and Marketing, Indianapolis Marriott Downtown. “Tuning into customer review sites like TripAdvisor allows us to respond quickly to problems, but having a direct line to consumers and front-line staff — being able to access their ideas and complaints on social platforms —helps us create relevant offerings and stop problems before they happen. Obviously, this is great for improving customer experiences; and it’s a golden goose for boosting business.”
Here are three hotel brands, representing a range of price points, that are leveraging social media to harvest new ideas and spoil their guests:
Trump Hotel Collective
Trump Hotel Collective includes seven luxury hotel properties, including the Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago — the only Chicago hotel with a five-Star Forbes Ratings for both its hotel and restaurant. The company promotes customer use of its Foursquare page by providing recommendations for attractions located near its hotels. To further promote customer check-ins at its properties during the holidays, Trump Hotel Collection donated a dollar to St. Jude Children’s Hospital for every Foursquare check-in. The campaign raised more than $1500 for the hospital and boosted awareness of the hotel collection.
Hard Rock Hotel
The Hard Rock Hotel is famous for treating its guests like rock stars. And Lauren Walker, Internet Marketing Manager at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Las Vegas, confirms that it’s a matter of the hotel’s strategy. She explains in an interview that listening to what consumers say on social media sites and responding to them is making a real difference to the business’ bottom line.
“You have to respond; that’s an absolute must; that’s what makes it social, that back and forth.” But Walker warns companies against sticking to the party line, so to speak. “Remember your audience,” she advises. “What they want to hear may not be the information you want to put out there.”
That’s why, according to an Entrepreneur.com article, “the hotel likes to surprise guests with personalized amenities based on what people reveal about their likes and dislikes on social media feeds.” So if a hotel employee sees that a guest is gaga for Jelly Belly, perhaps that lucky person will find a colorful bowlful waiting in her room!
Holiday Inn Express
Holiday Inn Express says half of its social activity takes place on mobile devices, so the company is now implementing a mobile marketing campaign that centers on video- and photo-based social platforms such as Vine and Instagram. Hotel guests are encouraged to create and post images with the #staysmart hashtag to share information, stories and snapshots about their experience with the brand.
As part of this campaign that targets business travelers, Holiday Inn is hoping to boost mobile bookings by including a button on the screen that helps viewers quickly and easily find a nearby Holiday Inn and book a room through the company’s mobile site.