Hotels are starting to exploit new social media such as FourSquare and Facebook Places
Most business and leisure travellers are only just getting to grips with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and hotel executives are often making effective use of these plus the corporate blog. But the younger, cooler demographic is now experimenting with new social media tools such as FourSquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places. Hotels can take advantage of these “mobile sign-in services” to reach out to customers free of charge – if their busy marketing departments can afford the time.
FourSquare, for example, is designed for smart phones that use GPS technology, allowing signed-in users to tell their online community exactly where they are if they’re on the move. Users earn points by checking in to a particular location and, if they earn enough points, become a “mayor” of that location. Hotels could take advantage of this application by offering discounts to anyone who checks in at their location and further discounts if they happen to be a mayor.
Some smaller hotel chains and boutique hotels have started to use FourSquare as a free-of-charge marketing tool. But FourSquare may yet prove to be just another fad. Although it’s catching on quickly, it is not yet universal enough to guarantee its long-term survival against powerful rivals for this social-media niche, such as Facebook Places.