What the Connection Economy Means for Hotel Marketing

In today’s competitive hospitality market, it can be difficult to have your brand’s voice heard above the noise. Whether at the property or the chain level, marketing and sales professionals struggle to get the most ROI out of their outreach, including hospitality social media marketing. And with so many available channels (digital, email, social media, etc.) it can be easy to get distracted from what’s always been at the heart of hospitality marketing: human connection and customer service.

In an earlier post about hospitality social media marketing, I wrote that any hotel can use a Twitter handle to respond to guest needs and to nurture guest relationships before, during, and after their stay.

I got the idea, originally, from a chat I had with Sam Stanton after attending a breakout session that he presented recently at a conference about event and hotel technology. Sam is the President and Chief Experience Officer of redbutton.tv and an expert in using social media to tell stories and build connections between brands and their audiences. He’s a major proponent of what he calls the “connection economy,” and he told me a story that I’d like to share. Below is a brief transcript from our conversation, which I’ve slightly edited for clarity:

Transcript

Mercer: You mentioned moving to a “connection economy,” and I was hoping you would expand on that a little bit – like on how it’s come about and where it’s going.

Stanton: So it’s interesting. People have short attention spans. They can have a great experience, and that’s great until the next great experience comes along. And then everything is forgotten. So what’s happening among effective event planners and effective hotel marketers is that we’re moving from an “experiential economy” into what they call a “connection economy.”

So beyond the experience, how are you really connecting with me? How are you making me care? How are you making me excited to share our relationship or your product or your event with other people?

Mercer: How do you think this “connection economy” applies to hotels looking to create lasting connections with their guests?

Stanton: So here’s a great one. There was a big association meeting in San Antonio. And a good friend of mine was flying in from Dublin for the event. Well, the first day of the event just so happened to fall on the day of the San Antonio Marathon. My friend had trained all year, and he wanted to run the marathon and then go to the event. And he did.

Being a true Irishman, he had to take a bath after the marathon. Well, he took a bath, and when gets out of the bath he looks for his robe, and there’s no robe – because it’s too “fancy” of a hotel to have robes.

So he tweets “Boy, I sure could have gone for a robe. I can’t believe I’m in a hotel without a robe.” Well, normally that would fall on deaf ears. But by listening and paying attention, the concierge downstairs saw that tweet, ran across the street, bought a beautiful robe, and brought it up to his room.

Mercer: Wow! How did that story play out on Twitter?

Stanton: Well, first, it was shared, like, a jillion times by that guy on Twitter who said, “Oh my gosh! Look at this brand listening to me.”

But more importantly, tell me this. Do you think that when that guy chooses a hotel that he would go anywhere else? No! Because that hotel jumped and seized the opportunity to make an indelible connection. You’re not going to break that. And that story was shared infinitely – not only during that event, but then on and on. So, fantastic opportunities to make very significant connections are everywhere – simply by listening and responding.


Written by Timothy Mercer