10 mini case studies of London hotels. Enjoy!
The digital age has presented the hospitality sector with a rich armoury of tools with global reach. Hotel marketers can now use social media to engage emotionally with their audience. And now that almost all hotels are present on Twitter, how well are they using these tools?
At Positive Partnerships we specialise in hotel social media so we dissected 10 leading London hotels on Twitter to learn best practice Twitter management from them. These mini case studies will hopefully help hotel marketers (scroll to the bottom to download a short report with an easy 6-step process to measure your hotel’s ROI from social media).
1. The Beaufort Hotel @beauforthoteluk
Hotels love to reward followers with competitions or deals. There is nothing wrong with this. But generic giveaways (e.g. a room night) will often fail to communicate their unique values.
Giving away free rooms without communicating something unique may even devalue a hotel’s position in the marketplace. So it’s pleasing to discover some more savvy approaches. For example…
The Beaufort in Knightsbridge runs an ongoing competition (24/7, 365 days/year) to give away a complimentary afternoon cream tea each month; at very low marginal cost to the hotel since it’s already a free guest amenity.
This campaign takes Twitter users just a few seconds to enter and digitally connect with the hotel. And the mechanic is naturally viral. But the real benefit is in raising awareness of a key selling point (they not only offer free afternoon cream tea to all guests but also other freebies like a free bar, free WiFi, free shopping courier and more).
The focal point of this Twitter promotion is the hotel’s generosity: they freely give away amenities that other London hotels would charge handsomely for. It therefore communicates a key value of The Beaufort.
The cream tea contest creates year-round buzz while being absorbed in the hotel’s routine operating costs for its complimentary cream tea. It is an incentive coupled with the right kind of awareness so is ideal for Twitter.
Even better, The Beaufort has extended its cream tea incentive to influential bloggers and journalists resulting in lots of positive media coverage, for example the following video spontaneously created by visiting bloggers:
Another key dilemma faced by hotels on Twitter is coming up with interesting content consistently. Here too The Beaufort is proactive.
Instead of relying on others (read: PR begging), they’ve set up their own Knightsbridge tourism blog on a separate url to create a further platform to distribute their content, integrated smartly with their Twitter feed.
Again The Beaufort is focused on outreach: they build relationships with influential bloggers to post content on their blog which is then shared on social media, thus leveraging the famous blogger’s audience too.
So instead of coming across as self-absorbed as many hotels unfortunately do, they extend their reach by cooperatively tweeting content with influential bloggers who already have thousands of followers.
The foundation of a great social media strategy is a plan to maximise distribution before you begin. Alliances with key influencers are the cornerstone of our social media work at Positive Partnerships. Does your hotel do the same?
An example is shown here in a collaboration with the brilliantly active and friendly London blogger Laura Porter who manages @AboutLondon with 30,000 highly-engaged Twitter followers and who guest-wrote a 12 month mega-post about things to do in Knightsbridge for The Beaufort’s blog:
This content is not only engaging in itself, but allows the hotel to link year-round offers to the content as well as to showcase their convenient location (you can read Laura Porter’s profile on the Positive Partnerships team page). The @AboutLondon and @BeaufortHoteluk channels shared content in a mutually-beneficial way, orchestrated by us:
Remember: widespread sharing of content rarely takes place by accident and requires an outreach plan.
Finally, The Beaufort takes care to distribute the right spontaneous offers on Twitter: exclusive and a bit hush-hush. In this example, a secret phone-in deal to Twitter fans: https://twitter.com/beauforthoteluk/status/610794473073823744
This kind of offer is a great fit with Twitter because it is (a) exclusive to Twitter followers, (b) easy to share requiring little explanation and (c) easy to track with its Twitter/phone mechanic and as a bonus, (d) mobile-friendly.
With this savvy Twitter strategy, no wonder the Beaufort’s followers have grown organically from a few hundred in 2013 to around 5600 now. Their email subscriber list has also grown significantly in tandem.
The quality of the hotel’s followers is underpinned by good targeting activity (Twitter’s analytics tool is excellent in optimising this) using the multifaceted approach described above. Key point: the Beaufort’s Twitter activity is based on incentives and content that reinforce the brand. Engagement across their Twitter account is also at an all-time high.
Note also how the header space is used to showcase the hotel’s key selling points while hosting a TripAdvisor review. In fact the showcasing of TripAdvisor reviews and external guest comments via Twitter is another key feature of The Beaufort’s Twitter strategy:
The above strategy allows The Beaufort to punch hugely above their weight against much bigger hotel groups.
If a small, family-owned 29-room hotel can achieve this kind of impact on social media, what excuse do bigger brands have for not getting similar results?
Lesson: Twitter competitions and incentives are good, but tie them closely to your hotel’s USPs. And integrate your social media activity with other platforms (a blog is ideal) using partnerships with influential bloggers. We build blogger outreach into all our social media management work with hotels from the planning stage. Be strategic about how you use social media to extend your brand’s reach…think distribution first, only then invest in great content.
2. The Milestone Hotel @milestonehotel
While followers can rebel if bombarded with self-serving messages, Twitter is a great place to let people know what you do well if you do it in a classy way. And we think The Milestone epitomises “classy” with a touch of playfulness:
“The Easter Bunny has settled in to our lobby for the remainder of the #Easter break. Be sure to come… https://instagram.com/p/07HAFKv4AM/ “
We also like how they big up their team at every opportunity. In this respect, Red Carnation Hotels have a lot to shout about (some of their HR secrets are revealed here).
Photos are generally well-chosen too; high-quality yet spontaneous, in keeping with the hotel’s service philosophy. We understand that they involve their team in Twitter activity, which requires training but ultimately reaps great rewards.
Our one critique of The Milestone is that they tend to adopt a middle-class, UK-centric voice, ignoring their many international guests who can be reached via digital multilingual marketing campaigns on Twitter and other channels.
They are not alone; this is a common issue for luxury London hotels, which sadly makes them sound a bit aloof. They are missing an opportunity: only 34% of the world’s tweets are in English, with Japanese, Spanish, Malay, Portuguese and Arabic among others growing rapidly. Do contact us for more info about dynamic multilingual tweeting.
For a group with worldwide roots (their fabulous owner Mrs Tollman is from South Africa) and with hotels in three far-flung continents, Red Carnation Hotels should urgently consider translating their website at the very least.
Contrast this with the similarly-sized Baglioni Hotels collection whose website is now available in 8 languages and who run the hugely successful Italian Talks Twitter account with fast-growing users in 45 countries.
Twitter is a worldwide platform and you must think globally to exploit it.
Lesson: Tell your followers about interesting stuff you’re doing, particularly if backed up by engaging photos. But do vary the voice and recognise you have a global audience. You achieve higher engagement by speaking their language.
3. The Hoxton Hotel @TheHoxtonLDN
The Hoxton’s social strategy went viral for all the wrong reasons in January 2015.
As millions of Twitter users were showing heartfelt solidarity after the Paris terrorist attack using the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag, The Hoxton in its wisdom also used the hashtag on Facebook but in bad taste to promote photos of their new hotel – “Proud to be opening our second European hotel in Paris 2016. Very chic don’t you think? #jesuischarile (sic)”
Aside from the typo, the hotel drew widespread criticism for appearing to use a tragedy for self-promotion. What were they thinking? Mistakes happen and it’s all about how you handle the crisis afterwards.
To its credit, the hotel released an apologetic statement, stating: “In no way was it our intention to use these atrocities to promote our new hotel…we would like to sincerely apologise for any offence it may have caused.”
Back on their Twitter account, there appears to be a virtual ‘squatter’ on what would be their natural handle – @TheHoxtonHotel (currently occupied by ‘Rapid Money’). The risks of this are that this user would be able to impersonate the hotel, while their online brand is diluted:
So the Hoxton is sadly guilty of inadequate control of their own brand real estate.
At least the above issues have galvanised the hotel and we’ve recently noticed improvements on their Twitter feed, with a focus on goings-on in their vibrant East London neighbourhood. Cleverly, they host a lot of events in their hotel which has become something of a hub in their neighbourhood, and are not shy about tweeting their support:
We like that The Hoxton don’t try to be all things to all people. They stay true to their core audience, centred on East London hipsters and creatives. This focus gives them a good foundation and clear identity going forward.
But their legal team needs to get onto that cyber-squatter @TheHoxtonHotel as soon as possible.
Lesson: Avoid sensitive hashtags in promotional tweets. And don’t let others take over your brand name…if you use an external provider to manage your Twitter account, go with someone who understands your brand. Shameless plug: at Positive Partnerships we are hotel geeks offering a completely brand-authentic Twitter management service.
4. The Lanesborough @LanesButlers
While the Lanesborough’s main Twitter account has been relatively silent during its ongoing refurbishment, the hotel has hit upon a novel way to generate interest in its reopening earlier this year.
Their team of personal butlers began tweeting away, keeping their followers up to date with the latest at the hotel.
As well as news announcements like, “We have our chef, ”and, “we have our maitre d’hotel,” the hotel’s butlers have been sharing a few handy tips that hint at their attention to detail. Such tweets include:
“#ButlerTips #reminder #clocksgoforward #SpringForward on Sunday morning; by 1 hour. Have a great weekend.”
“#ButlerTips Gents; do not wear a watch with a Tuxedo, apparently #Googleit”
We think it’s genius to empower a key hotel asset that reinforces your brand – in this case their butlers – to spread your message in a fun, interactive way. Their content is quirky yet relevant and subtly sells the core benefit of staying at The Lanesborough: namely, they always go the extra mile for their guests.
They have invented a fun #remarkablyrefined hashtag to go with this Twitter adventure. We refer below to the dangers of hotels inventing their own hashtags but this one is just the ticket: quirky, fun and interactive.
We are also pleased to see them use this Twitter feed to recruit new team members as well as praise colleagues.
Textbook tweeting – well done The Lanesborough!
Our only comment is that they are under-promoting this great account. We’d be extending this campaign into blogs, mobile channels and multilingually – it’s amazing how modern social media tools allow you to extend your reach at relatively low cost.
To their credit The Lanesborough have kept this account going even after their reopening, recognising that their butlers are a key asset and part of their identity as a hotel.
Lesson: Find a novel way to tweet which demonstrates what makes your hotel special. In The Lanesborough’s case its team of butlers are a key USP and the #ButlerTips idea is brilliant. It’s just a shame more people are not aware of it.
5. The Shangri-la at the Shard @ShangriLaShard
Some get so preoccupied with Twitter’s 140 character limit that they underuse images. Not the Shangri-La at The Shard which makes regular use of photos to demonstrate its superior panoramic views.
Are you seeing a pattern between the hotels highlighted as super-effective on Twitter?
They’re able to hone in on their key USPs (in the Shangri-La’s case its amazing views) in a laser-targeted way and find creative ways to communicate them. Their Twitter cover image does this as well as the majority of their tweets:
Of course, not all hotels have an infinity pool on the 52nd floor to boast about, but the question remains: are you aware of your hotel’s best assets and relentlessly focused on them?
Are you constantly collecting visual collateral to communicate these USPs in varied ways?
We feel that the Shangri La at The Shard does this brilliantly.
Recent tweets also include pictures of ‘edible gifts’ and pink champagne as well as lots of foodie images, with the hotel’s F&B offering being another key brand differentiator. Its visual approach is wise because image tweets achieve an estimated 50% more engagement than pure text tweets (source: Social Media Examiner).
On our own @londonhoteltips account we have learned to follow a strategy of almost exclusively tweeting with images and the engagement data on our Twitter analytics increased significantly when we started doing this.
Lesson: Remember the old cliché that a picture can say a thousand words which is particularly relevant given Twitter’s length restriction. Image tweets deliver more engagement and a potential 150% increase in retweets.
6. The Zetter Hotel @TheZetter
Social media isn’t just a space to promote yourself but also to shine the spotlight on others. The Zetter Hotel makes a habit of regularly tweeting links to external content that its followers may find interesting.
They are particularly keen to big up their chef Bruno Loubet who has gone on to open several other restaurants but their content also extends to all aspects of their neighbourhood.
Not being obsessed by yourself as a hotel shows Twitter users that real human beings are behind the curtain.
For example, The London Bridge Hotel on Twitter – an excellent hotel that we love as you’ll see by this review – spends too long tweeting about things outside the hotel, so its followers get very little sense of what a great place to stay it is (and there is little reason to follow them, since you can get tourism information from many other sources).
We observed that on some days around 80-90% of The London Bridge Hotel’s tweets were destination tips…too high.
But The Zetter has struck a good balance, especially in imbuing its area with a certain historic fascination:
“St James’s Church on Clerkenwell Green is not only beautiful, but has a fascinating (and often dark) history http://bit.ly/1I8AtgF”
“Did you know the composer George Frederic Handel once performed in Clerkenwell? http://bit.ly/1F9osSZ #History”
The Zetter raises the profile of its local area by focusing on local history, insider tips and offbeat trivia.
Another thing we like about The Zetter: they capture visual “quirks” in their brand and tweet photos, for example:
A sense of humour always takes you far on Twitter; and one which reflects your own quirkiness goes even further!
One critique of The Zetter: their tweeting is a bit sporadic. They are not present every day and infrequent tweeting simply means they get lost in the Twittersphere, particularly when your audience inhabits different time zones.
For example, this recent screenshot shows that they’re sometimes tweeting only once every 3 days, a huge missed opportunity even if they pick up the pace at other times. They could use scheduling tools to ensure more consistency.
The above screenshot was taken on June 24th when there was still no further tweet, which suggests a current frequency of one tweet every 3 days…your hotel’s ROI from Twitter will be minimal if you are this sporadic.
Think too about the time of day you tweet. Studies show that early afternoon in the timezone where most of your audiences is located is the optimal time to get engagement, with a spike on weekends too for travel consumers.
Lesson: Tweet links to other websites and tourism information, but don’t take this strategy too far – if people are following your hotel they also want to understand what makes you unique as a hotel. Tweet images that reflect your core values in a quirky or humorous fashion. Tweet consistently…social media never sleeps!
7. The Savoy @TheSavoyLondon
Everyone knows the benefits of retweeting what others are saying about you at every opportunity. The Savoy London in our view executes this strategy better than most hotels.
They regularly use third parties as the mouthpiece to endorse their key messages. They are helped by having a high profile, but what impresses us is that their “listening” antennae seem more finely tuned than most.
We monitor London hotels closely on Twitter and find that The Savoy’s tweets consistently get among the highest levels of distribution and engagement.
The Savoy go out of their way to source external testimonials, while being acutely aware of their own hotel USPs:
RT @Appointment_Grp “Show round and #cocktail making at the Iconic @TheSavoyLondon. We learned from the best. http://goo.gl/zauPHy”
“RT @hospitalitymedi Check out the Caterer @Caterertweets with Paula McMinn, worlds best receptionist @TheSavoyLondon by @franklinphoto”
Of course, there are always conversations naturally taking place about an institution like The Savoy – nonetheless, it surprises us how many hotels miss the opportunity to pick up on and amplify external endorsements.
It makes you more interesting if you join the conversation and give a platform for others to use their own words and images rather than having to curate everything. On social media you can only contribute and influence not control.
Effective use of Twitter is about “listening” as much as speaking and The Savoy really seem to have their ears open.
Retweeting also builds relationships if you do so without vested interest, as long as they are relevant to your brand – for London hotels that could mean retweeting museums, galleries, tourism organisations and blogger reviews.
In this respect, we find hotels sometimes a bit shy to repeatedly retweet positive external reviews.
Remember: your followers are online at different times of day, so as long as you are tweeting lots of other good stuff, nobody will really mind. For example, we noticed that The Savoy retweeted a review of their bar by the influential Bar Chick blog several times, with subtle variations of text and image on each occasion:
This blog post from Wisemetrics provides a data rationale in favour of repeating tweets (while varying content rather than mechanically reposting of course). On average only 14% of your audience will see your tweet the second time.
Finally, don’t forget to personally thank those who say nice things about you. We find The Savoy like other luxury hotels a bit aloof in this regard. You don’t often see them say ‘thank you’ to people who say lovely things about them.
As owners of the London Hotels Insight blog which has been publishing original content about London hotels since 2009, we are surprised how rare it is to receive even a simple “thank you”. When this recognition arrives, our bloggers often feel motivated to create even more positive content about the hotel.
For example, the 4 star Eccleston Square Hotel regularly says “thank you”…
It doesn’t cost anything to say thanks!
External observers to your Twitter feed will notice you constantly accepting praise and accolades, without giving back recognition. This is not a good look. Hotels should especially thank guests who take the trouble to praise them.
What defines a truly welcoming hotel from a snobby one is that they’ll go out of their way to be grateful to the little guy with half a dozen followers, not just a high-profile blogger or journalist.
Lesson: Retweet what others are saying about you rather than saying it yourself. But do personally thank those who go out of their way to praise you (including TripAdvisor reviews) – a great way to look good and feel good too! Don’t be afraid to repeat tweets – in fact by not doing so, you are missing the chance to reach 86% of your audience.
8. The Montcalm London City @The_Montcalm
Though now widespread across the social web, Twitter was first to popularise hashtags (#). Hashtags make it easy for people to find your tweets that relate to their interests and allow you to tap into popular trends.
The Montcalm London City is adept at using topical hashtags related to special days like #Easter, #MothersDay, as well as more general ones like #London and #Weekend. Places are also useful to hashtag.
But don’t fall into the trap of inventing your own random hashtags purely to big yourself up. We see a lot of hotels trying to promote their restaurants with a branded hashtag related to just that, or perhaps a particular suite.
This comes across as self-serving PR and a bit vain (with notable exceptions if done right – see The Lanesborough above). If you come up with an appealing campaign that taps into the zeitgeist that’s different of course.
It’s difficult to come up with good hashtags. It’s better to hashtag the general interest rather than the specific asset e.g. #foodies rather than #[mybrand]food. It’s better still to jump on the bandwagon of already-popular hashtags and to join – and where possible – lead the conversation.
Lesson: Make your tweets more visible and tap into the zeitgeist by using popular hashtags – hashtags are estimated to double your engagement rate according to Social Media Examiner. Choose your hashtags with care though and be careful about inventing new ones. Studies show that one hashtag, one image and one link in a tweet are optimal.
9. W Leicester Square Hotel @WLondonHotel
No hotel is an island, and it’s good to get involved with bigger events in the outside world, even those that may have little direct relevance to your own self-interest.
The W in Leicester Square did this in the past by tweeting support of Earth Hour, in which cities around the world switched their lights off for an hour to raise awareness of climate change. As well as tweeting “It’s almost #EarthHour2015”, the hotel’s social team posted pictures of the hotel during the blackout, inside and out.
We also like the way the W London integrate their corporate tweets with the personal tweets of key team members.
For example, head chef Peter Lloyd often dominates their Twitter feed in a positive way e.g. this video praising his team during a busy service:
— Peter Lloyd (@chef_lloyd) June 19, 2015
This adds authenticity and a human touch while showing prospective guests that they will be well looked after.
Similarly, the Andaz London is passionate about its local community in the East End, regularly retweeting the work of local artists who are also given gallery space in its lobby and taking every opportunity to support local businesses.
Having met them, we know that their enthusiasm for the local community is heartfelt and not a marketing ploy.
Likewise, we noticed on London Hotels Insight that the Rosewood London recently began promoting the wares of local food producers who source in a responsible manner in its weekly Slow Food Market.
So any hotel that gets involved with its community in a relevant way should come forward and let people know.
Lesson: Get involved with the outside world, both your local community and issues of global significance – Twitter is a great platform to showcase your identity as a corporate citizen not just as a hotel. And allow your key staff members to lead the conversation on your hotel’s Twitter a/c.
10. The Athenaeum @TheAthenaeum
Some hotels forget that Twitter is a human platform and not a corporate one: the tone of voice should always sound as if it came from a human being. The Athenaeum recognises this better than most because they tweet about their hotel, people, local attractions and guests in an ultra-friendly and conversational way. For example:
Timeliness is key on social media, not just for picking up praise but also for averting potential crises. A day late could be too late because a guest may have already published a negative review on TripAdvisor during their hotel stay.
A Twitter feed is like a critical real-time news feed for any hotel and should be continuously monitored.
We also love how The Athenaeum account liberally publishes photos from other users and hotel guests. We find some hotels a bit snooty about photos, sticking as far as possible to their own “in-house approved” images.
Our one small criticism of The Athenaeum: they never respond to emails requesting information or say thank you to bloggers, which comes across as aloof. For example our London Hotels Insight bloggers never get responses when we ask for information, which only means that we’ll ultimately give them less and less coverage over time.
This is surprising because their Twitter voice is great so there is obviously a slight disconnect there. Do they have different departments managing these channels? When it comes to saying “thank you” on Twitter The Athenaeum are among the best (reference our earlier comment above in The Savoy’s section):
Hotels should try where possible to ensure consistent standards in all communication across all channels.
Lesson: Be friendly and generous. Respond personally to all comments on Twitter. And use a consistent voice and apply good standards of responsiveness across all channels. Remember: you can never say “thank you” enough!
Those are our 10 London hotel Twitter case studies. We encourage you to visit their accounts and follow them all; and follow @londonhoteltips to stay fully abreast of London’s dynamic hotel scene.
Being a successful hotel on Twitter is not rocket science. Nor does it require constant bribes or giveaways.
Our 5 golden rules are:
BE BRAND-FOCUSED – know your hotel’s unique selling points and varied ways to express them
BE AUTHENTIC – consistent and sounding human
INVOLVE YOUR TEAM – train them, ensure a good tone but give them freedom to represent your hotel
SAY THANK YOU – you are in the hospitality business, that means all deserve equal respect
THINK DISTRIBUTION & OUTREACH – the magic formula to unlock positive ROI from social media
As the above hotels have demonstrated, there is no perfect solution and even the best have their faults.
Whether by running Twitter-specific offers and competitions, using images to generate extra interest, keeping an eye on global trends or any of the other lessons mentioned here, you need to commit to a strategy that leverages what is special about your hotel and plays to your strengths.
At Positive Partnerships, all projects are led by social media influencers to reach those who have synergy with your hotel brand: we build outreach/distribution into all activity, including our multilingual Twitter management service.