Editorial Board   Guest Author

Ms. Heston

Michelle Heston

Regional Director of Public Relations, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

Michelle Heston serves as the Regional Director of Public Relations for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. In this role she oversees the marketing communication and public relations efforts for eight luxury holdings in the western US and Hawaii. In addition to media outreach, advertising and brand communication activities, she is responsible for exploring, cultivating and leveraging cross marketing relationships for the brand. She proudly spearheads Fairmont's regional “green” marketing efforts. Working with the California Coastal Commission for the past several years, Ms. Heston coordinated Fairmont’s five drop-in cleanup sites across the Golden State (Newport Beach, Santa Monica, San Jose, San Francisco and Sonoma). Annually over 1,000 colleagues of Fairmont accompanied by friends, family members and recruits scour the state’s inland waterways and beaches for litter as part of the annual California Coastal Cleanup Day. Ms. Heston also mentors hotels in the region to serve as environmental ambassadors in their local communities. Working with each property’s green team she leads the design and implementation of each property’s eco-signature project. These projects include relationships with Heal the Bay, CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) and the Sonoma Ecology Center in Northern California. Supporting Fairmont’s commitment to sustainable tourism and environmental stewardship, she recently designed and coordinated an impressive fundraising campaign for California’s “Save our Parks” initiative. She has earned an MBA and regularly lectures in the areas of marketing, public relations, advertising and social media. Married and a mother of two daughters she and her family currently reside in eco-conscious Marin County, California.

Ms. Heston can be contacted at 707-939-2477 or michelle.heston@fairmont.com

Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.