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Guest Column: A social getaway

29-June-2012
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Guest Column: A social getaway

Enough has been said and written about how brands from across industries have taken to social media to have a greater acceptance in their audience’s mind. Needless to say, hotels and resorts from around the world have utilised this goldmine of a medium to grab its share of the pie too.

Here’s presenting some of the best award-winning social media campaigns that have been carried out by these swanky establishments in recent times.

Grand Geneva Resort:
Among many campaigns that were carried out by the Grand Geneva Resort, this one is particularly catchy. The resort launched a programme where all marketing, advertising, PR and events were driven through social media. Some of the campaigns that were promoted via Facebook are as under.

Custom tab: A custom Facebook tab was created that allowed fans of the resort to print free lift ticket vouchers

Social buzz: A tab that lets visitors read up on reviews from various online travel experts such as tripadvisor, yelp, orbitz, etc. and the buzz generated by some of the esteemed guests

Marcus rewards: A tab that entitles the primary members to enroll for reward points by filling up a simple form and signing up for e-mails regarding discounts and updates

Grand Geneva Ski: A tab that promotes one of its flagship services – skiing. Fans are encouraged to submit their photographs from the mountain top to be shared with all and call for making bookings for the same

Fan exclusive: A tab that informs fans of deals that they can avail on a timely basis

Events: This tab is a ready reckoner of sorts for all events that are scheduled to take place at the property along with other handy details

To push engagement, a series of videos were also posted on to Facebook and YouTube. For the ‘free lift ticket voucher’ campaign, the resort also won a 2010 PRSA Paragon Award and was selected by Marcus Corporation as the company’s best social media program across 20 hotels.

Marriott Hotels and Resorts:
Marriott Resorts Hawaii launched this campaign on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to celebrate 50 years of Hawaiian statehood and to give away free trips to the island.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts:
Starwood’s biggest brand, Sheraton gave away 2100 free nights at 86 new or newly renovated hotels in October 2009. Simultaneously, it also launched a whole new social media platform – ‘Sheraton Shared Moments’. Through various other existing social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, blogs and e-mail, users shared their travel experiences with friends and family and public to win a chance a holiday at a predetermined Sheraton property.

Besides this, the iconic hotel group also has a ‘SPG- Starwood preferred guest’ as a dedicated campaign running on Facebook and Twitter that give away points to collect for a guest after they check-in with any of their properties. The services and the offers are enlisted on tabs and keep changing like a slide on the tab.

Langham Place Hotels:
This property benchmarks its standards by giving the ‘My way, my place’ experience to its patrons. It is primarily selling its three most prime services: The club, the spa and the room. With the same purpose on mind, a campaign was launched to shoot three two-minute films for each of the property with an iPhone 4s, staying true to its innovative positioning. Not just this, even the ‘making of’ the videos were shot and shared through various sites such as YouTube, youku, Facebook, weibo, etc. to give prospective customers a behind the scenes look at the components that went into making of the same.

To watch video:


 

ITC Hotels:
To have a buzz built around cricket in a country like India is fairly easy. To have it integrated with a social media to drive engagement with customers a tad bit difficult. Regardless of what would have ideally appeared as a tough nut to crack, ITC hotels nailed it.

In 2011, when the ICC cricket world cup was in progress, the hotel rolled out a campaign ‘cricket eLounge’ wherein ardent fans were asked to post their messages on Twitter and Facebook with a mandatory #TCcricketspeak. The messages were then displayed live on screens installed at various locations within the hotels.

Weekly prizes were doled out for best messages that included a meal for two at any signature outlet at two at two predetermined properties. To up the ante, a grand prize to the most ardent supporter was handed out to one which consisted of a ‘Welcome break’ at any of the properties across the country. Regular check-in through foursquare also unlocked a beeline of offer.

Club Mahindra:
The Chennai-based resort chain launched a ‘Verse-a-tile’ contest with a thought of spreading holiday happiness. The campaign aimed at bringing poets and holiday enthusiasts together and put together a line at a time to create a poem. This particular campaign is what is referred to as user-generated content and at the same time highly engaging. A big thumbs up to them.

Ginger Hotels:
A campaign that created a dedicated property on each Thursday says enough for a brand such as Ginger hotels. The ‘Traveller’s Thursday’ quiz that goes live every Thursday on its Facebook page requires fans to identify the location of a given photograph. Each week a new photograph is shared and new winners are announced. A couple stay for 2 nights and 3 days at any of its properties nationwide is surely a big incentive that drives fans to put in their best foot forward. Not surprisingly, this initiative proved to be quite a hit by adding about 30-40 odd fans to the brand’s Facebook page.

How social is the stay in the times to come?
Hotels and resorts have always been symbolic of a getaway, indulgence and relaxation. In a quest towards attracting customers and showcasing their range of services, almost every single player in this industry by now has already fathomed the potential of social media. Although, the functional aspect of the service is a common ground for all to play fair and square, the key differentiator will be how one leverages one’s presence on social media that will set them apart from the rest.

Windchimes Communications is a specialist social media agency of India.

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