Used a Direct-to-Consumer Facebook PR Strategy to Open Your Hotel.
By Josiah Mackenzie
Sunday, 30th January 2011
How Martin Soler used a direct-to-consumer Facebook PR strategy to open Seven Hotel at 80% occupancy during low season.

How did Hotel Le Seven build their Facebook community so quickly? Recently I got on the phone with Vice PresidentMartin Soler to learn about the strategy he used to attract nearly 12,000 fans through Facebook.

Martin's company, World Independent Hotel Promotion, works exclusively with independent hotels, with a focus on hotel openings. (Martin is also a talented HDR photographer.)

The Background Story (In Martin's words)

Seven months before opening we started the campaign.

It was an ambitious project – great to work on, because the hotel concept was very unusual. We built a strategy where we would be creating some mystery, and leaking ideas on what every suite would look like.

We were lucky because we had a test room to work with for imagery – the rest were just sketches. We started by talking about the owners, and the other projects they did – like Hotel Five.

We talked about all the gadgets and special things there were.

We coordinated with our PR agency to make sure there was no communication with the press. We only wanted to talk directly with the consumer.

Josiah: What communications channels did you use?

Facebook Only

Facebook was our exclusive communications channel.

I haven't found Twitter to be very reliable for promotions. I feel it's a bit more of a flash in the pan.

And of course we made a website with very dramatic music and imagery of what guests could expect. Facebook pointed to the website, and the website was very high-production – lots of rich media.

No Press Releases

If people wanted to know anything about the hotel, they had to follow us through Facebook. No press releases went out, and we did not take any questions from the media.

What Caused Rapid Growth

We tried some contests through Facebook, but the results were not impressive as we thought. We tried sending offers to our fanbase from Hotel Five – since the design concepts were similar. If they liked the Five, they'll love the Seven. So cross marketing was possible there.

So a lot was just telling people about it. Pushing traffic from the website. We also wrote some bloggers, telling them to check out the page since we were going to do something interesting.

It was a bit of a risk because not many hotels have filled their rooms through Facebook yet. But it worked for us!

After Opening

We've continued our strategy after opening, and made it clear to our colleagues that it was Facebook that attracted our fans initially. It helped us achieve 80% occupancy on the soft opening – and that was in low season.

The owner was amazed – he didn't expect that at all.

So we had to remember that our Facebook fans helped us achieve this success. We give them an exclusive room rate – the fans-only rate is the best rate you'll get – better than our own website or any distributor.

We also reward our Facebook community by notifying them of anything that's going to happen before we tell anyone else. (Even before we post to our website).

Martin's Top Five Facebook Tips

1. Treat your Facebook "Likers" like an artist treats their fans. That is, realize they make you important and therefore you need to make them important. Special treatments etc. when they arrive at the hotel is a minimum.

2. Keep your Facebook page as personal as you can. This is an information communication channel to friends. Try to involve them as much as you can.

3. Find out what people want to know about the hotel and give them more of that. It's not about what you "think" is important; you may be totally off the mark. Listen to them and your page will be a success.

4. Use all the media of Facebook, write articles, post photo albums etc.

5. Treat every post like a "news story;" don't give it all at once. Give it to them bit by bit and maximize the yield from your stories.

About the author
This blog is written by Josiah Mackenzie, who enjoys exploring the relationship between emerging technology and the hospitality industry. 


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