Over time, hotels have learned to embrace social media by assigning staff or hiring agencies to manage both the tactical and strategical aspects of an effective campaign. In the "Top Ten Hotel Brands A Tweet Above The Rest," I noted some of the best 'social media' hotel chains' campaigns. But in addition, hoteliers are also utilizing some of the new social media services popping up online and on mobile apps that connect guests and hotels in some unique ways prior to arrival and during their stays.
Flip.to, a social media service that converts travelers into engaged advocates for hotels and airlines offers two services: one for pre-stay and one during a a guest's actual visit. The services are essentially integrated with a hotel's Web site booking engine. Customers that book online are incentivized to send the hotel's branding messaging out to their individual community of followers on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Incentives are at the discretion of the hotel and can vary from a guestroom upgrade to winning a free trip.
Flip.to CONFIRMATION Component
For every guest that engages with Flip.to, a personalized URL is created as a "Concierge" page. When friends and followers click on the links in their tweets and status updates described above, they are directed to a Concierge landing page. It is here where one's social network followers can provide a hotel guest with suggestions and recommendations as to what to see and do while they are in that destination. Additionally, since the hotel staff has access to these pages, they can also alert the guest to special discounted offerings within and outside of the hotel, as well as timely special events or points of interest.
Flip.to CONCIERGE Component
Twihotels.com based in San Jose, California is a division of Compare Infobase Limited that has incubated successful online projects such as Mapsofwolrd.com, Mapsofindia.com and Twitsnaps.com. The site is built on the premise that while it is difficult to find the right hotel in the right city at the right price - it's equally important to secure a recommendation from friends and followers on your social networks.
Hotel booking sites like Hotels.com can locate a number of hotels any where in the world and if you are diligent enough to cross-reference with TripAdvisor you can most likely obtain a review on that hotel's performance. But with Twihotels, you can surface hotel recommendations firsthand, without a lot of alternate searching.
Twihotels is filling that void nicely with an application that allows you to tweet your hotel queries to your followers on Twitter. Once you tweet your hotel request, the followers that respond will be providing you with recommendations based on their experience at that particular hotel and destination.
IMGuest.com is the fourth start-up for entrepreneurs and co-founders Asaf Engel & Yossy MendelovichYossy Mendelovich and Asaf Engel. Having clocked over 1 million kilometers per year, they've learn a lot about connecting with fellow travelers during hotel stays. So much so, that the premise of IMGuest is similar to a "dating service" for like-minded hotel guests. The services works off of the belief that "every social interaction carries within the potential to gain profit and benefits."
Similar to Foursquare check-ins, business or vacation travelers can check-in to a hotel, connect and then actually set-up meetings with other interesting hotel guests based on common interests. With over 140,000 hotel worldwide in IMGuests' database, Mendelovich believes the service will catch on virally where it can be used by guests in almost every hotel in the world.
The free service is a quick "one click" registration with the travelers' Twitter and Facebook accounts and was launched just one week ago, devoid of going through a beta stage. According to Mendelovich, "we believe that once a professional site goes on air, it has to be ready with all working features."
From the hoteliers' perspective, there are several options to promote their venues to prospective guests via advertising campaigns directed to the users of the site. The platform also provides a "back door" framework where hotel executives can check real-time stats about their guests, while preserving their privacy by not exposing identities.
With the ability to scale over thousands of sign-ups a day, Mendelovich and Engel are hoping that the popularity of their service will be the start of a "social revolution" in changing how guests interact with each other while traveling, in addition to providing hotels another opportunity to reach out to guests via social media channels.