Avid travelers are all about travel perks. Many are members of various hotel reward websites and keep up-to-date with current promotions at each locale. As many frequent travelers can attest, accumulating points and rewards can be an addicting game as they become accustomed to the small luxuries such programs provide. More recently hotels are upping their game, offering points for going on and liking their Facebook page and “bonus points” for posting a review on a popular travel sites. It’s likely with this trend that more and more hotels and resorts will jump on the bandwagon to promote their hotels on social media and create rewards for “following” the establishment.
With this new initiative, some establishments are blatantly offering discounts on social media outlets while others are getting more creative by incorporating their various platforms with what they offer to customize the experience. Everyone likes to be heard and share positive, memorable experiences, especially on social media. Now social check-ins, ratings and reviews provide perks to satisfied customers. Satisfaction onsocial media encourages word-of-mouth marketing and guest interaction. It is no secret that higher-ranking hotels earn visibility on a review site, which lends itself to greater appeal among travelers, resulting in more bookings and revenue.
On the flip side, failing to interact with customers in atimely manner can cause detriment to hotel and resort properties. The longer businesses take to respond to the customer, the larger the opportunity for the customer to “share” their negative experiences. With so many hotels and resorts to choose from, of which all offer perks turning “followers” into a satisfied repeat customeris a competitive business.
The guest experience now starts prior to arrival or even before check-in with the opportunity to dine at the hotel at a discounted rate or attend a happy hour in their lounge just by being a loyal social media follower. More and more hotels are not only offering the extras but using the blogosphere to entice guests. Many promote their restaurants and spas, and also local cuisine and activities in the area. Additionally they share coveted recipes for cocktails and dishes to recreate at home. By doing this, the property is creating an experience for the visitor that starts before they arrive and sticks with them long after they leave.
In 2014, Travel and Leisure named Four Seasons the winner for “Best Overall Use of Social Media.” Four Seasons was awarded the honor because they do a fantastic job of preparing for the resort experience by interacting with the guest prior to arrival. One thing they do exceptionally well is make sure that each guest’s experience is unforgettable, especially children’s. The Four Season’s Blog “Have Family Will Travel: Vacationing with Kids in Style” provides tips of the trade for an unforgettable family experience, such as playing chef-for-a-day at the Four Seasons. There is a grown-up version for adults too. Four Seasons entices the reader by posting on YouTube and sharing images of the classes on social media. They even post the recipe so consumers can try the experience at home. In addition, they highlight various properties, “kid- friendly” recipes and post the children’s personal unforgettable experiences told by their satisfied parents.Four Seasons Travel, Food and Style not only explores the best restaurants that Four Seasons has to offer, but an insider’s guide to the local dining scene and wineries.
Fairmont was a close runner-up for Best Overall Use of Social Media. Fairmont Hotels and Resorts pride themselves on their slogan “Everyone’s An Original,” meaning that experiences with food and drink at Fairmont should be original and unforgettable. The food and drink portion is broken up into five diferent categories, showcasing recipes, mixology, chef bios, exclusive Fairmont Tea, and their emphasis on using organic and local ingredients. Guests can peruse the site, checking out what the resort has to offer in cuisine and the esteemed chefs for each property. Fairmont chefs post recipes and suggestions for seasonal menu items. Encouraging interaction from their followers by asking questions on what followers prefer provides a more personal experience outside of their stay.
Kimpton Hotels, known for providing that extra touch for their rewards members, is kicking it up a notch with their new “Life is Suite” motto, which hopes to engage, inspire and celebrate life well-lived. Kimpton already offers special “suite” rewards with complementary beverages, happy hour nibbles and the opportunity to raid the mini bar. “Life is Suite” brings back memories of that special pasta dish or that incredible cocktail. The goal is that Kimpton reward members realize that the hotel is a destination for unique, memorable experiences. The “Eat + Drink” blog section is the hotel’s destination for entertaining tips from the pros, delicious recipes from chefs and ideas from favorite local mixologists. Kimpton was also one of the firsthotels to realize the benefits of following their followersback to prepare for the guest experience. They started the first “grassroots” experience to have a specializedreward for the guest at check-in.
Ready for the ultimate social media booking experience, tweet #BookLoews and the concierge will reply back and assist in booking a travel itinerary. Loews Hotels takes a slightly different approach when it comes to promoting the Loews culinary destinations. Each of the contributors writes as if they are “on the road” experiencing the locale. #WishYouWereHere is the insider’s guide to each Loews destination. Writers not only recommend must-visit dining destinations but post some of their favorite recipes in conjunction with national holidays. They also have an ice cream dessert contest in which followers can vote online for their favorite ice cream dessert from various chefs representing Loews properties.Followers can also win complementary two-night stay in the Loews Virtual Postcard Sweepstakes by interacting on social media. The hotel excels at offering guests the best way to experience the cuisine, in person.
Hotels all have the same goal: to turn their loyal social media followers into social media bookers. Today more and more consumers who travel seek out new and exciting experiences that they may have read about or viewed on social media. Promoting and allowing guests to document their positive experience via social media can result in free recommendations for hotels and resorts that can be seen by millions. Their tag or pin might win them another stay, or at the very least announce where they had an unforgettable stay.