The holiday season is fast approaching and it’s never too soon to get a leg up on holiday marketing.
As the holiday season approaches, the hospitality industry is taking to social media with a variety of interesting themed campaigns. Last year, a video surrounding WestJet Airlines’ coordinating and executing a Night Before Christmas campaign was making the rounds throughout the web and was able to gain legs primarily through the viral nature of social media sharing.
The WestJet Christmas surprise literally gifted travelers with their Christmas wishes and there was much to be taken away from this initiative. They had hoped their video might amass 200,000. As of the end of the 2013 holiday season, it’d acquired 14 million views. And now, a year later, it’s at over 36 million.
We haven’t seen anything of WestJet caliber yet this year, but there are several others setting good examples, too. Here are some of the unique social media holiday marketing campaigns by brands in the hospitality industry.
Trump International Beach Resort in Miami just wrapped up their annual holiday recipe contest. Running from early October through early November, the Miami resort encouraged users to submit their own original holiday recipe in numerous categories for the chance to win the ultimate family vacation.
The categories included best appetizer, best entrée, best side dish, and best dessert. Trump Miami’s Executive Chef, Kurtis Jantz, and his team of culinary experts will select 12 category winners to be featured on the Trump International Beach Resort holiday brunch on December 25th, 2014. The grand prize winner will receive a five-night stay in an ocean-room suite along with breakfast, massage, tour, and more.
Now that’s a great prize! This genre of contest is effective as it appeals to users’ emotions. It asks them to submit a recipe of their own that is likely linked to family tradition or memories. Having multiple categories allows for multiple smaller winners which is also useful (if there’s only a single winner, people may be less inclined to enter since they don’t feel they have a huge chance of winning) and the grand prize is substantial and also family oriented.
Gaylord Hotels got started a couple months early as well. In October, they launched a #4TheLoveOfChristmas Holiday Getaway sweeps. Users were simply required to like the hotels’ social media pages and enter to win a trip that included round-trip airfare, room, and tickets to a holiday show.
Further investigation of the Gaylord Hotels Facebook page, which boasts over 60,000 fans, displays that the Marriott hotel chain planned far in advance for the holiday season. Going back several months, they’ve been sharing festive photos, holiday offers, countdowns to Christmas, and more. They had Christmas swag up even before Halloween and offered a behind-the-scenes look at two million pounds of ice arriving for their renowned holiday show back in early October.
The Galt House Hotel in Louisville, KY, hosts an annual celebration entitled “Christmas at the Galt House Hotel” which regularly features a Gingerbread House contest. Amateurs and professionals were encouraged to put their baking hats on, with $1,500 in cash prizes on the line. Again, there were different categories incentivizing various winners from kids to adults alike. Holiday-themed photos resonated on their page as far back as August.
The Galt House Hotel also integrates social media into their holiday festivities with details like a customized Christmas Pinterest board and authentic Christmas videos featuring Pam Tillis posted to their YouTube channel.
The year before, Visit Birmingham, the destination marketing organization for Birmingham UK, joined forces with over 15 partners to launch their ‘Open for Christmas’ integrated marketing campaign.
A dedicated microsite was created and is thriving again this year. Birmingham hotels enjoyed occupancy rates of over 80% throughout the festive season – peaking at 85% in mid-December – with revenues up by 11% compared to the same period the previous year.
A range of promotional offers and competitions helped grow the social media base by over 10% in just three months. A current review of the #ChristmasinBham hashtag on Twitter, produces an array of results highlighted good-spirited Birmingham visitors showcasing an array of fun winter experiences. This is an excellent example of the power of social media and how you can have your audience do your marketing for you with the right activation.
Looking for more ideas to get ahead with holiday marketing for this year? Check these out!
Cover Local Holiday Events
Many hotels and restaurants host a variety of seasonal events. If not, their destinations certainly do. Whether you’re a restaurant, bar, or destination marketing organization, highlighting local holiday events is a great idea. If you’re a hotel, you need to draw people to your destination in order for them to book rooms at your property, so create a page on your website to showcase all that your region has to offer.
It can be as simple as compiling research from other local websites. For example, The Georgian Hotel in Santa Monica, CA, created a holiday page focusing on area happenings in November and December.
While the hotel themselves may not have anything happening on-site (aside from décor), they reside in an area featuring an array of holiday activities like tree lighting ceremonies, holiday pop-up shops, holiday walks/runs, and more.
From here, it’s easy to re-purpose these events and this content into social media posts. Share a Facebook post noting the diversity of holiday events. Select a photo from one of the events and share it on Pinterest, with a link back to your holiday page. Have staff members attend some of the local events and share photos to Instagram in-real time. The possibilities are endless!
Optimize On-Site Décor
If you decorate your establishment, it’s worth it to bring in a professional photographer to capture high-resolution images that can be recycled every year on social media. Although it’s also a good idea to capture spontaneous photos for Instagram and the like, having a set of high-quality photos to be able to use every year makes planning for each year less stressful, plus they provide guaranteed social engagement if they’re elegant.
A perfect example of a resort that does this well is The Jefferson in Richmond, VA. Each year, they host an array of Christmas activities and erect an enormous tree in their lobby.
Even though they get new photos each year, they’re able to use past ones to promote the event and stimulate excitement. Notice how the image above has over 200 likes and 60 shares. They were able to re-use this photo numerous times in the same season, and each time, it proved effective in garnering social engagement.
Hold a Holiday Contest
Holding a holiday contest on social media is a great way to get your fans and followers buzzing. Trump International Beach Resort in Miami holds a holiday recipe contest each year where they ask users to submit their own original holiday recipe for the chance to win a family vacation.
Take Advantage of Video
With video becoming more prominent on Facebook and Instagram in addition to the emergence of live-streaming apps like Meerkat and Periscope, utilizing video for holiday marketing can also be fruitful. These videos can they be posted to YouTube, creating long-term social media benefits.
Maybe have your catering manager go behind the scenes at an on-property holiday lunch. Or feature your bartender making a signature holiday cocktail. Or your chef highlighting the recipe for one of his holiday masterpieces.
Last year, Le Relais de Venise Entrecote, a restaurant in New York City, created a custom video for the holiday season. Note how they discuss New York’s general happenings in their video’s bio!
What other ways have you seen hotels or restaurants optimize their holiday campaigns on social media?