We’re entering a new age in luxury hotel marketing. Top-tier hotels are now using Twitter for concierge services, social geo-locating platforms to unlock free gifts, Facebook for customer service and YouTube to showcase unique properties. They are finding new, large and responsive audiences across the social web. No doubt, luxury travel’s latest destination is online.
Yet who is leading the charge in this recent wave of innovative hotel social media strategies? What are their methods and how are they finding success? In our ongoing series “Luxury Hotels & Social Media,” Pursuitist is interviewing the top luxe hotel leaders (The Peninsula, Ritz-Carlton, Waldorf Astoria and many more) to gain insight into the online strategies of the industry’s elite.
Today’s interview is with Felicia Yukich, Social Media Marketing Manager, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.
Q. Why is Social Media important for your company?
A. At Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, we believe the winners in this new digital age will be the brands that let their fans define it and syndicate it. We’ve always been a consumer-centric culture, so the shift to adopting the way guests and clients lead communications for Four Seasons has been rapid. Digital media is now 50% of our brand’s marketing efforts, with a strong social media presence that facilitates engagement and encourages loyalty.
Four Seasons has quickly and strategically grown its base of Twitter followers and Facebook fans, receiving accolades within the industry. As Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts continues to incorporate social media into its day-to-day business, the company sees real time interactions as a natural extension of its service model. Working closely with our properties to embrace this evolution, our unique approach has allowed a centre-led global strategy to be localized in meaningful and relevant ways at the hotel level around the world.
From virtual wine tastings on Twitter to a vibrant Facebook presence awash with visitor images and timely conversations, to active participation in location-based apps such as Foursquare and Gowalla, to highly curated content on YouTube, which is fast becoming the world’s second most important search engine, Four Seasons has its finger solidly on the pulse of the modern traveler.
Q. How many people manage your social media channels & what types of tools do you use?
A. Four Seasons has a team that manages and uses the following digital tools:
• Facebook: Four Seasons recently enhanced its Facebook presence with new tools and a refreshed design to provide visitors with compelling content such as exclusive promotions for dining, spa and other services and interactive touch points like a contest on Flickr for the best travel photo. Between its corporate and individual hotel presence, containing nearly 90 local pages, Four Seasons’ Facebook fans total more than 223,305, and are growing daily.
• YouTube: Four Seasons develops highly curated content for YouTube. Examples include world-class surfing videos from its property in the Maldives at Kuda Huraa, best sights to explore at Four Seasons Hotel Marrakech and tours of theatres and pubs in Dublin.
• Twitter: Four Seasons was among the first luxury hotel brand to launch a corporate Twitter account, building its follower base by more than 80 percent since August of 2010. Between the corporate and nearly 90 individual hotel streams, we now have more than 185,900 followers. Four Seasons also participates in Twitter chats including, #luxchat, #FriFotos, and #TTOT.
• Location-based Services: Four Seasons the first luxury hotel brands to leverage location-based mobile and web services, such as Gowalla and Foursquare: when guests checked into Four Seasons properties during the “Best of California” promotion, they received “best of” trip recommendations. When guests “checked in with Gowalla at three or more “spot” recommendations, they received a spa or dining credit.
• Tumblr: Four Seasons the first luxury hotel brand to have a Tumblr presence (www.fourseasonsspas.tumblr.com). Here, spa images, posts and more using the #FSspa hashtag were aggregated around the world.
• Blogs & Microsites: Four Seasons launched its Have Family Will Travel blog (www.family.fourseasons.com) featuring real stories from customers traveling with kids. The site features kid-friendly recipe and arts and crafts ideas, and links to related blogs. The Four Seasons Foodies site (www.fourseasonsfoodies.com), featuring world-renowned chefs blogging about everything from how to make a white chocolate carrot cake to how to cut the perfect holiday turkey. The “Foodies Around the World” section celebrates the unique cuisine, fine wine and exotic mixology at Four Seasons hotels and resorts around the globe, with recipes and wine and cocktail suggestions.
• Google+: Four Seasons has established a presence on Google+ to leverage its unique capabilities and features.
• Weibo: Four Seasons has an active presence on Weibo, China’s most popular social network, with more than 250 million users, and has launched an online magazine site there.
• Four Seasons Magazine: Four Seasons Magazine launched a new site in December 2011, a true new digital luxury travel experience where guests can explore all their favourite destinations and discover someplace new.
Q. What has been the most effective content to engage users?
A. We strive to serve up content that is interesting and relevant, and our increasing ‘return on engagement’ is a true testament to that. The most effective content is our multimedia content. On YouTube, our video views total 280,000, 30% higher from this time last year. This content allows consumers to get a first look at our properties and better understand the Four Seasons experience.