Many leading hotels have pretty vanilla Facebook page mostly devoted to self-promotion. Hilton’s Embassy Suites wants to do much more, seeing its page, which has 195,000 likes, as a way to connect more often with consumers.
The chain recently rolled out a “366 Days of More” campaign that centers on a Facebook sweepstakes. In celebration of Leap Day, Embassy Suites is giving consumers 366 chances to win free hotel stays. Consumers can enter for 366 chances to win “more” on the Embassy Suites Facebook page. Over the next 366 days, Embassy Suites will find ways to delight consumers with “acts of more.” These will include tangible acts like free popcorn upgrades at movie theaters in select markets this summer.
“For us, it is all about building engagement, growing brand love and buzz,” said John Lee, vp of brand marketing for Embassy Suites Hotels.
Free giveaways, sweepstakes, alerts on secret sales and other exclusives are the types of tactics that can help a hotel brand cultivate loyalists. A hotel brand’s Facebook outreach should be all about customer communications and building relationships. Those hotel brands that are using their Facebook presence for self-promotional, one-way marketing are missing the target, according to Lee.
The key to an effective social media strategy is to update fans regularly but also to think of promotions and campaigns that will get people talking back and liking. Almost all of the posts on the Wall of Embassy Suites’ Facebook page are some sort of giveaway or special offer, which makes it very enticing for consumers to participate.
Some examples include: “Why stop with breakfast? AAA members Kids Eat FREE at all of our Southern California Embassy Suites!” and “Need plans for Presidents’ Day weekend? Visit Washington, DC, stay at the ES Crystal City and receive two free metro passes per day to visit all of the sites!” The posts are promotional but don’t come off that way. Embassy Suites also asks fans questions on its Wall, asking people to share their experience of their stays at the hotel.
Another recent trend in the hotel industry is letting consumers book rooms through Facebook. Embassy Suites has a booking capability that allows travelers to reserve hotel rooms without ever leaving Facebook to do so. Lee said that the feature is included to provide convenience for consumers. The hotel chain does not do any promotions around driving bookings through Facebook.
“Facebook is not a retail environment,” he said. “Don’t try to sell [through Facebook]; it is too self-serving. It should be about the customer and not you. For us, Facebook is like being at a cocktail party, and you don’t want to sell someone something at a party. You’re just there to have a good time.”
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