Once upon a time, way back in 2005, Marco Scherer was introduced to a new phenomenon popular with college students -- social media. Instead of being frustrated by the newfangled online communication, Marco decided to embrace it and learn all he could about Facebook and Myspace. He was especially interested in exploring potential business applications for the hospitality industry. As the General Manager of the Kimpton Hotel in Vero Beach, Marco started to experiment with social media to connect with his guests AND develop promotions and campaigns to increase revenue. We recently asked Marco a few questions to pick his brain on his success in social:
Q. Did you have to convince anyone to try social media to impact your hotel in the early days?
A. At first, ownership was very skeptical. But we used signs, business cards and social rates to build our 'fans.' Once we built up a following, in addition to fun posts about beach life, we started to offer Facebook-only rates to fill need times. In fact, in the second year, Facebook became the #2 digital channel for our Vero Beach leisure business. Overall, the leadership at Kimpton and the ownership groups have been very supportive of our social efforts!
Q. What worked and what did not?
A. Well a lot things flopped! Several promotions bombed and anything with QR Codes failed. Fortunately, we learned from everything we have tried and there have been many more wins than losses. What seems to work the best is consistency and engaging with our fans in a real way. We don’t stress or over-think the posts. We just share what we would with our friends.
Q. What platforms are you currently using? Rank them in order of success. How do you evaluate success?
A. We currently use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest and I would put them in that same order as far as effectiveness. We really look at engagement as the dominant key performance indicator. If our guests are engaging with us on social, they are thinking of us and spreading the word with their networks.
Q. What advice would you give to a hotelier trying to get social off the ground?
A. I would tell them to engage their teams and make sure that everyone understands the social media strategy. As far as posting is concerned, be real. Share things that are fun and interesting like you would with your close friends. No one wants to see post after post trying to sell them something. But a picture of the Chicago river with green dye in it for St. Paddy’s day or a pet pig in the lobby...that’s gold!
A very social hotelier
Marco has continued to become one of the most active and successful social media marketers in the hospitality industry. While General Manager at Vero Beach Hotel, he built up a strong Facebook community from scratch and the hotel currently enjoys over 24,000 Likes. Then he moved to become General Manager at the Hotel Monaco in Chicago. He focused on social media there and has grown Facebook to over 50,000 Likes. Certainly we all know that quantity without quality won't work when it comes to Facebook. With a focus on communication with actual guests and quality engagement, his results speak for themselves.