Think you’ve cracked Social Media Integration in your venue? Think again!

Think you’ve cracked Social Media Integration in your venue? Think again!

From customer service to marketing and technology to content co-creation these 4 venues are leading the way in terms of social media interaction.

After airlines, hotels and venues were the next travel and tourism sectors to sign up to the social media revolution and allow their business models to be turned upside down, disrupted and distorted for evermore. Social media provides venues with advantages and benefits unimaginable only 5 years ago and can radically improve the efficiency, effectiveness and sheer quality of the customer experience and journey.

Display your handles and hashtags

With Social Media you can be a fly on the wall and overhear what people are saying about your venue. Then you can take what you hear to improve or congratulate yourself! You can even butt in on the conversation and fix a problem, there and then, in real time by sending in the duty manager or the AV guy. Likewise you can start your own conversations, share your passion for live events or a creative new idea that you picked up on Pinterest or Twitter. You can use Social Media to crowd-source content, find great staff, promote your festive parties, connect with potential clients, build your database of contacts.

But you know all of that already don’t you? You say “tell us something new, Pádraic, we’ve heard all that before!” But why, then, are you not displaying your hashtag? Why are you not relaying your Twitter or Instagram feed on a plasma or LED screen at reception? Every meeting room and available square metre of space has your logo displayed there but where are your hashtags and social handles? Here are some venues that can teach us a thing or two about social.

The Hyatt Regency, Chicago

The Hyatt Regency in Chicago is a big-box hotel that often hosted constellations of #eventprofs in Chicago during the “late” Incentive Travel & Meeting Exhibition (IT&ME), probably the globe’s first show dedicated to MICE. I always regarded it then as a classic anonymous bed factory but was astonished during a recent visit to see how enthusiastically it has embraced social media, brilliantly transforming the guest experience accordingly. With LED screens throughout the public spaces and a super-active, highly monitored twitter feed you’re immediately drawn in to a dynamic environment of conversations and comments. It’s highly engaging. When I tweeted about a missing item in my guest room, I had a robe delivered to the door within 10 minutes. When I wanted a restaurant recommendation, the concierge tweeted back immediately. This is a great example of how a gargantuan, 2000+ guest room venue with 63 meeting rooms and a 5000 square metre ballroom can feel like a small, intimate boutique hotel by engaging with guests using social media.

ALT Hotel, Pearson Airport, Toronto

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Photo Credit: Group Germain Hotels

ALT Hotel belongs to the Canadian Le Germain chain and is decidedly part of the Hotel Indigo | Aloft | Canopy by Hilton set, ie, a chain property that feels like a local, independent venue. I happened to be in the venue a while ago when the hotel’s rather unique ALTExpo campaign had just reached a conclusion. The hotel invited Instagram users to enter a contest by submitting a picture with the hashtag #ALTExpo. During an intense two week campaign over 80,000 pictures were submitted with the winning pictures forming an enormous digital canvas making up the brand colours of the hotel. Live screens embedded in the digital canvas then display pictures uploaded in real time by current guests, so I get to see my picture surrounded by all the amazing award winners. Overall this is a genius idea that fosters great guest engagement and builds amazing brand equity for the venue.

Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Melbourne

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Photo Credit: Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

INCON, the global alliance of Professional Conference Organisers, introduced its digital infrastructure award a few years ago and last year’s recipient was the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC). Hosting almost 1000 events per year ranging in size from 10 to 10000 delegates, digital Infrastructure is, obviously, a cornerstone of the venue’s offering. It’s also the basis for its social media strategy which, as one might imagine with an award winning venue, is definitely front and centre in how it differentiates itself in a crowded marketplace. Throughout the venue live view screens make it possible for multiple video streams of event rooms to be viewed on a single screen anywhere within the event area. Users can click for a full-screen view of an individual room with its accompanying audio. Social media is fully integrated into the digital infrastructure – through an easy-to-use iPad interface, event organisers can control and moderate the display of an event-based Twitter feed.

The Roger Smith Hotel, New York City

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Photo Credit: The Roger Smith Hotel

The Roger Smith Hotel is a family-owned, boutique property in midtown Manhattan but has been using Social Media as the primary distribution channel for a marketing strategy that pivots around content creation. As far back as 2011 @RSHotel was described as “one of the most innovative hotels in the world, but also one of the most creative brands in social media – in any industry.” Content creation can be time-consuming but that’s why John Knowles, Director of Marketing for the property relies on guests to co-create the content with them “We’ve created a culture of content creation where material doesn’t just come from the hotel, but from others who are interested in being part of the culture. Whether that’s created with a Flip video camera, an iPhone or a pro camera – the tools are there. What we look to do is inform, educate and encourage people to learn and spread the word. The more people that engage with us, the more our network and influence grows.”

In Conclusion

Venues must first invest in best-in-class digital infrastructure – this shouldn’t need to be stated but for the avoidance of doubt let it be said one more time: scrimp and save on anything else, but don’t install anything but the latest, broadest, fastest digital infrastructure available.

When you’ve got a digital infrastructure as good as MCEC (above) then get onto the social channels – at the very least Twitter, Instagram and YouTube – and devise a strategy (a) for your own social media marketing and (b) around helping your clients get the most out of your venue by using your digital infrastructure and a great social campaign.

About The Author
Padraic Gilligan
Padraic Gilligan is Managing Partner at SoolNua Marketing, a boutique consultancy offering marketing, training and strategy for MICE for destinations, venues and hotels. He blogs weekly on destinations and matters of interest to the Meetings Industry at Padraicino

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