To understand just how dramatically the hotel experience is changing, just take one look at the 1888 Hotel in Sydney, Australia. The hotel lobby is a haven for hipsters with mirror-top tables and lounge furniture. In the middle of it all, there’s a massive digital frame that showcases the best Instagram photos of the property. If landscape photos aren’t your thing, a “selfie” mirror allows guests to - you guessed it - take photos of themselves.
The entire property is built around one belief: guests want to share their experience with the rest of the world via social media. To capitalize on that word-of-mouth buzz, the hotel offers anyone with 10,000+ followers on Instagram a free night.
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The Value of Being Social
I did the math on this one. Based on my search for a room in November, the average rate clocks in around $220 per night in Australian dollars (the current exchange rate is fairly even1 AUD to 0.94 USD). With that arithmetic, each of those Instagram followers is worth just over a whopping two cents.
Still, the offer makes sense for the hotel. If a few guests have loads of people following their every move on the Internet, photos of the 1888 will make the rounds and attract more guests to come see the property live and in-person. One free night is a small price to pay in exchange for that kind of attention.
What the Big Guys Can Learn From This
Major hotel chains probably won’t base their interior design strategies solely on Instagram anytime soon, but the 1888 underscores the importance of creating an experience worth talking about in today’s socially driven economy. The emerging generation of hotel guests probably doesn’t want to share a photo of a traditional hotel lobby or a traditional hotel room. Instead, they want to be able to show off a glamorous trip where they’re part of the coolest of the cool.
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Social media engagement is no longer a buzz term. It’s an essential piece of your business. While Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and the countless other platforms may seem like good places to waste time, these destinations can also take an unforgettable face-to-face setting on an endless online journey with shares, likes, retweets and hashtags. Whether you’re renovating a hotel lobby or designing a general session at a meeting, ask yourself: would I want to take a picture of this?
Looking for additional ways to engage with your attendees? Check out PCMA's new attendee engagement package.