How Hotels Can Improve Guest Loyalty Through SoLoMo Marketing and a Locals First Focus

By Bram Hechtkopf Vice President of Business Development & Marketing, Kobie Marketing | July 14, 2013

To loyalty marketers who thought they knew what SoLoMo stands for: think again. Spelled out as Social, Local, Mobile, too often the ‘Lo’ in SoLoMo is thought of as a strictly location-based initiative. But thinking in those narrow terms fails to consider a vital and valuable subset of hotel guests: locals.

Think about it. How often do locals say, "Oh, I wish I could be a tourist in my own city?" Instead of being incentivized to walk through hotel doors via an engaging experience or rich loyalty program, locals fail to consider options that are nearby or right in front of them. Only on special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries or nights out at the theater do some locals buck this trend. Otherwise, a largely untapped market is being unfairly ignored.

A recent info-graphic released by The Location Based Marketing Association and Venuelabs speaks to this point. In a review of 265 cities, it was found that hotel brands are missing as much as 85% of local customer feedback. It also found that locals are 12 times more likely to give a brand positive feedback compared to non-locals. Meanwhile, another study by hotel software company Monscierge found that 73% of hotel guests want local recommendations.

So “local” and location-based marketing isn't simply about performing a search for "hotels in Nashville" or researching “Vietnamese restaurants near New York’s Plaza Hotel.”

It's also about people living in proximity to a hotel. And, for hotel loyalty marketers, tapping that lucrative ‘Lo’ segment.

But as hotels are working harder to engage guests and create new experiences (which include 4-star onsite dining, book readings, poetry nights, free in-lobby Wi-Fi, wine tastings and the “Starbuckification” of the lobby itself) they should also consider the truly local aspects of the marketing term SoLoMo. Perhaps we should also be asking how can hotels more effectively wed that local engagement to social and mobile marketing.

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.