SoLoMo is a marketing tactic for leveraging the power of social networks to deliver local information to consumers via their mobile devices. But the scope of SoLoMo’s evolving impact on the hospitality industry is still being defined.
Practical applications of SoLoMo are not exactly abundant at the moment, though this is changing rapidly. One innovator typically leveraged by hotels in this domain is foursquare, the free app that lets users “check in” to a location with their mobile device to fulfill some social function or to locate (or be located by) friends. An additional local—and marketing—benefit is that foursquare offers recommendations, discounts, and coupons from local participating retailers. Some examples:
Starwood Hotels and Resorts uses foursquare as the central hub and backbone of its Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program, which enables connected guests to earn rate discounts and “Starpoints,” updated offers from nearby establishments, and gather expert tips from fellow members.
The Mark Hotel in New York City leverages foursquare’s list functionality as a virtual extension of its concierge services. Guests looking for location-specific and highly-rated dining options, or even unique sightseeing opportunities, could simply follow The Mark on foursquare. The Mark, in turn, is sure to include its own in-house dining options (The Mark Bar, The Mark Restaurant) in its recommendations.
Also at the brand level, Thompson Hotels is using foursquare to promote its favorite neighborhoods to guests, but does so in a way that, again, invites the user to take advantage of specials nearby their own organizations’ neighborhoods.
One of the first hotel companies to practice SoLoMo was Four Seasons Hotels in California, which used a location-based social-network application (the now defunct gowalla) to give guests special recommendations for “best of” places and experiences to try during their visits—and to earn hotel credits (for example, in the spa or for dining) in the process. Guests “checked in” to the app using their mobile devices when they arrived at any Four Seasons in California. They then received access to curated recommendations for things to do and see to enhance their stay—much like a virtual concierge. If they “checked in” to three of the recommended spots, they could show a “pin” at the hotel’s front desk, which could be redeemed for the hotel credits.
Today, the industry in general continues to find its way with SoLoMo, thanks in large part to fast-evolving mobile technologies. Still, we have found some intriguing examples. Here are some SoLoMo strategies put to use by sbe Hotel Group’s marketing department. Lauren Roxborough, sbe’s Marketing Director, Hotels, provides the details:
iPad Messages: SLS South Beach’s new in-room iPad app has a “Messages” feature where we can communicate exclusive offers to hotel guests. One of our current offers is for guests to receive a complimentary dessert at either Katsuya or Bazaar (both on-property restaurants) if they download the sbe app to their mobile device and present the offer via the app to their server. Here we are not only incentivizing guests to dine at our restaurants, but we are also using the in-room iPads to drive app downloads.
Shake a Drink: We have also added a “Shake a Drink” feature to the in-room iPads, where guests can “pick their poison” or select an alcohol, shake the iPad, and receive a recipe for a cocktail they can make from items in their minibar. They also receive another recipe based on the selected alcohol with a specialty cocktail they can order at one of the on-property venues – this drives interaction with the app, increases minibar sales, and drives traffic to our food and beverage venues. This is also a great way for us to highlight our alcohol partners.
Hyde Beach Escape Sweepstakes – Integrated Social Campaign: We launched this Facebook sweepstakes through our sbe Hotel Group Newsletter where a winner can receive a two-night stay in a Lenny Kravitz-designed Villa at SLS South Beach that comes with a poolside daybed for two, pitcher of sangria and fresh fruit platter daily, and a 7-series BMW and SLS chauffeur at your disposal. This social campaign increased Facebook likes to our Hyde Beach page, increased loyalty to the Hyde and SLS brands, and cross promoted between the hotel and club.
- Mercato di Vetro Sunday Supper: Produced a promotional video for Mercato di Vetro’s “Sunday Supper” to generate buzz. This video resulted in 3,415 views in its first week and drove traffic to the restaurant for the promotion. The video now has more than 14,000 views.