Last updated: 11:29 AM ET, Fri December 11 2015

Hotels and Social Media: A Beautiful Friendship?

Hotel & Resort | Charyn Pfeuffer | December 01, 2015

Hotels and Social Media: A Beautiful Friendship?

Photo via Twitter/WaldorfAstoria

The minute a customer books a room, hoteliers have an opportunity to provide the guest with a memorable experience. In today’s digital age, social media has changed the landscape of hotel/guest interaction, so in the quest to stay relevant (and ultimately profitable), accommodations have to think beyond merely smiling and calling guests by name.

According to Gautam Lulla, hotel industry expert and President of Travel Tripper, more hotels are utilizing social media to promote and market their hotel, but that is only the first step in attracting the attention of a new generation.

“Cross promotion throughout all social platform will reach a wider audience and gain more visibility to your brand,” he said. “We’re even seeing hotels use pre-stay marketing emails, tweets and snapchats to promote a more unique and tailored experience for the traveler.”

Here’s how three hotels are using social media in innovative ways to connect with their guests:

Capitalize on a trend and local icon

When Portland International Airport recently retired its carpet, people showed up in a cult-like frenzy to have their photo snapped with the famous 80s relic.

Hotel Monaco in Portland snatched up several Oregon-shaped cutouts of the carpet to create a “selfie station” for guests. Any guest photos from the selfie station that was posted to social media — and tagged the property as the location or used the #monacopdx hashtag — were sent to the front desk and concierge to coordinate a surprise amenity. This could include local wine or beer for adults, local chocolates or a treat from the restaurant, stuffed animals or games for kids, or even a goodie that’s been branded with the carpet design. The #pdxcarpet hashtag, and its slight variations, has nearly 100,000 posts on Instagram.

Entice engagement with unique rewards

The JW Marriott Chicago woos social media followers with its Wine Ambassador program. Each month, the Windy City accommodation poses a question on its social media channels and one lucky follower wins a free private wine tasting for two at the hotel. This experience includes an opportunity to meet Chef Russell Shearer who can speak to the wines and small bite pairings.

Run a successful hashtag campaign

Waldorf Astoria New York was recently honored with the HOTELS Magazine “Best Use of Visual Networks” award for its #waldorfmoment campaign, an accolade the hotel shared with the Grand Hyatt New York for their efforts on Twitter.

Once the hotel settled on #waldorfmoment as the property’s first large-scale hashtag campaign, it was introduced to the public via a reception for social media influencers in the hotel’s Presidential Suite.

“The fact that we could utilize this amazing asset, this historic suite that every standing U.S. President since Herbert Hoover has called a home away from home, was a real advantage for us,” said Melissa Howard, Waldorf Astoria New York’s social media manager. “The setting is ultimately what inspired the influencers. We just had a great time, and in return, each post came across as authentic instead of staged or forced.”

Before the hotel started advertising the #waldorfmoment campaign on-property and on its website, there were so many posts that only referenced the Waldorf via its location tag on Instagram. “Of course, we want every piece of content shared from 301 Park Avenue to include a @waldorfnyc and #waldorfmoment tag,” said Howard. Once they began advertising #waldorfmoment though, they saw a significant uptick in the number of guests who included the hashtag in their posts. “My dream is that the campaign will inspire people who wouldn’t post on their own to share their #waldorfmoment on social media.”

But the campaign seems to have caught on with the hotel company’s upper echelon of management. The Waldorf Astoria brand recently adopted #waldorfmoment as the official brand hashtag for all 27 properties around the world after much success at the property level.

If these campaigns are any indication, accommodations will soon be unveiling a number of unique and innovative ways to connect with guests via social media. Keep an eye out — savvy travelers have a chance to enjoy some great free perks. 


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