Inbound Marketing Lessons from the Hotel Industry

Ellie Mirman
Ellie Mirman



Roger Smith Hotel This week I was lucky enough to travel to Florida for Social Fresh Tampa to teach and learn about Facebook advanced marketing tips. It was an incredible line-up of speakers (aside from myself, of course) including Brian Simpson from Vikram Chatwal Hotels and formerly of Roger Smith Hotel aka New York City's "Twitter hotel."

In his presentation on "Social Media Hospitality," Brian shared some interesting stats and approaches to social media in the hotel industry that struck me as surprisingly applicable to businesses in any industry. Brian breaks out his marketing efforts into three areas with different goals and tactics.

1. Rooms = Core Business

What is it: This is your core business. You want people to come and stay at your hotel or buy your product.

What is the goal: Increase awareness of your business and the products you offer.

What are the strategies: Share the experiences of your customers. Whether it's case studies or simply photos or quotes from your customers. For hotels, this can be images of travelers in your hotel bar or travelers talking about their stay. If your customers aren't doing this already, encourage them to do so or even do it for them - reach out and ask if it's ok to share their stories.

What were the results: Roger Smith Hotel estimated that 75-175 rooms per month were booked from this awareness spread through social media. One of the reasons this was so significant was because social media engagement drew in social media savvy travelers who, in turn, shared their experiences in social media to a larger audience.

2. Food = Secondary Offering

What is it: A secondary offering you have that may draw in a different audience than your core business. In the case of Roger Smith Hotel, it largely drew locals who wouldn't stay at the hotel but would come to events or eat at the restaurant.

What is the goal: Bring in more customers separate from the target for your core business.

What are the strategies: Have a secondary offering that brings in this audience that will not be buying your core offering. This gets you the attention of a whole new audience who can still talk about you and spread awareness to your core target market, in addition to bringing in business for your secondary offering.

What were the results: Roger Smith Hotel saw a 32% increase in food and beverage sales due to engaging in social media to draw in this secondary audience.

3. Events = Community Building

What is it: A way for you to create value for your community by letting them interact with each other. This can be through events or through social media.

What is the goal: Give people another reason to talk about you and create additional value and an emotional bond to your brand.

What are the strategies: Find ways to bring your customers together. Roger Smith Hotel even opened up a rooftop space as an additional event venue for customers only. This created a great experience for customers that made them want to talk about their stay. Roger Smith Hotel created value beyond their core or even secondary product offerings by fostering something that is just not easy for competitors to copy - a community rallying around a brand.

What were the results: Roger Smith Hotel saw a 36% increase in event revenue and, well, became lovingly known as New York City's "Twitter Hotel." The community they've built around their brand has not only driven more travelers to stay at their hotel, but also took Brian Simpson speaking around the country at different conferences.

Marketing Takeaway

Think about how you create value for every member of your company's community. In most cases, your community is not just made up of the folks that would buy your core product. How can you use social media to draw in more potential customers, offer different types of value depending on what they're looking for, and help them connect with each other while rallying around your brand?

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