Case Study: Social Media & Guest Engagement

Innisfree’ properties benefit from the best hotel social media campaigns in the country. Innisfree owned, Holiday Inn Resort, Pensacola Beach Florida has over 62,000 highly engaged Facebook fans and over 2,000 Instagram fans. The Holiday Inn Resort, Fort Walton Beach, Florida has over 56,000 engaged Facebook fans just two years after opening. Even our small independents such as Beachside Resort, Panama City Beach, Florida enjoy active social media fan bases of over 50,000.

These are record-breaking numbers both for the brands and for the hotel competitive sets. None of our competitors even come close to matching our numbers. How do we get so many social media fans and followers and have such high engagement levels for our hotels?  Glad you asked!  Here is our (not so) secret sauce.

It all started five years ago when Innisfree created an in-house digital marketing agency called Bee Loud.  At that time, hotel companies were talking about whether or not they should even do social media.  Social media has since emerged as a ubiquitous and essential hotel marketing strategy.

Bee Loud produces and posts unique, engaging daily content on multiple social media platforms for all of our properties. Our in-house team includes a social media strategist, two talented photographers, a designer and a writer. We focus on how to best leverage social channels to create pre-trip anticipation, improve services and form emotional connections with our guests that last long after they go home. We also engage guests by monitoring our social channels and responding to guest comments several times a day.

Using social media as a tool to improve the guest experience, increase brand exposure and foster loyalty is an important but common strategy in the hotel business. What is less common is using social media to attract new customers and to increase the number of bookings on our most profitable channel  – our hotel websites.

In 2015, Bee Loud launched a guest engagement campaign in our beachfront hotels called Beach Love Happiness with new customers and direct bookings in mind. The campaign encourages guests to “Post. Tag & Get Swag,” or, in other words, to share their vacation experiences on social media, tag them with a designated hotel hashtag and then claim a free gift.

The campaign is promoted with via print materials on property (posters, coasters, and key card inserts) and by the hotel staff at the front desk. The hotels also employ ‘local hosts’ who engage guests in the campaign while offering destination advice, identifying opportunities for service recovery and for moments of surprise and delight.

It works.  In 2015, we enjoyed a record-breaking volume of guest engagement on all our hotel social media channels. We responded to the escalating social media user comments in an authentic, fun and engaging manner while sharing links to relevant local website content to increase referral traffic and encourage direct bookings.  We repurposed the best of our guest’s content and used it to supplement our daily campaigns to leverage ‘word of mouth’ referrals. Who are the best potential new first time guests? Friends and family of your current guests of course!

Our 2015 results were remarkable with an average of 30% increases in social media referral traffic to all of our local hotel websites.  An average goal conversion rate of 43% and bounce rate of 32% indicates this traffic was on target and valuable.

Collectively, during the four months the campaign ran, in seven beachfront hotels we gained:

  • 3,500 tagged User Generated Content submissions
  • 11,800 local website visits referred from Facebook
  • 46,500 new Facebook fans
  • 1,869 new Instagram followers

And that is how we have #funatinnisfree!