Challenge: Prospecting, CRM and branding.
Results: About $70,000 in bookings from June 1, 2009, to Feb. 23, 2010.
What direct marketers care about is how Twitter generated $70,000 in bookings for Personality Hotels from June 1, 2009, to Feb. 23, 2010. What Erin Finnegan, the San Francisco hotel chain’s marketing and social media manager, cares about is that she’s providing fun, engaging and relevant information to those considering a visit to the City by the Bay. And that, she says, is how she achieves that metric.
Finnegan, a.k.a. “Marketing Diva,” tweets from @personalityhtls and says she used to sit and fret about what to write in the 140 character space. But now she relaxes and goes with the flow. She’s even gotten her French bulldog, Tallulah Rose, in on the action (@mstallulahrose).
“It’s always so funny,” Finnegan says. “Anytime anyone sees an article on Twitter or Facebook or social media, they’ll rip it out or print it out and give it to me. … A lot of them say … there’s an equation for Twitter. ‘You should tweet an average of this many times a week. You should keep your content this percentage this, this percentage this.’ … But the whole point of Twitter is it’s very off the cuff and spontaneous and by not putting so much thought into it, it doesn’t paralyze you from being able to reach out to the customers.”
For instance, she says, plenty of marketers are using codes to track conversions. But to her, that feels detached. Besides, she knows exactly how well the Twitter efforts are going, because she’s the one facilitating the bookings.
By “listening” and then reaching out to those tweeting about planned stays in San Francisco, she’s able to eventually have them contact her via e-mail (queendiva@ personalityhotels.com). From there, she helps them complete the booking process. But those Twitter conversations, she estimates, represent only 40 percent of her tweets.
Far fewer, about 10 percent of her posts, relate to pushed hotel information and multichannel marketing campaigns. (The campaigns that are deployed across e-mail and all social media channels—the chain has Facebook and LinkedIn presences, plus a few of the individual hotels have their own Twitter and Facebook accounts—redirect to specific landing pages on the hotel chain’s Web site.)
“That I do the least, because I think it’s more impersonal,” Finnegan says. “Just like shouting at people in the air.”
So about half of her 1,200-plus tweets have been more “out and about” posts, where she’s providing followers and those searching for cool things to do in San Francisco with comments about restaurants, links to smartphone applications specifically about the city and whatever else she’s up to.
And it helps that her approach matches the hotel chain’s branding as young, fun and on the run.
Finnegan carries the personal touch from Twitter to the guest’s hotel stay and back again. Bird replicas roost in rooms and alert guests to follow Personality Hotels on Twitter. If Finnegan notices something in Twitter posts that she thinks a guest might appreciate (that won’t make her appear to be a stalker), she’ll provide it—from a $10 In-N-Out Burger gift certificate to buy a Double-Double to a Kara’s cupcake for a woman who’d made the confection her profile picture.
The twitteratti seem to have voted on Finnegan’s approach.
While the average guest stays for 2.3 days, those booked through the social media outlets remain an average of 3.8 days.
And, in a phenomenon only someone familiar with Twitter may understand, a conversation started on the social networking site resulted in Finnegan booking 35 rooms at Hotel Vertigo—generating $9,573 for the hotel chain—for a tweetup that came to San Francisco in January. “Especially for a tweetup,” Finnegan says, “they wanted a hotel, I think, that really understood Twitter.”