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.

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.