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Luxury Hospitality and the Social Mobile Web

The stakes are higher for luxury brands.

Social is a highly effective marketing channel for hotels; no marketer worth his or her salt will tell you otherwise. Social is even more effective for boutique, luxury hospitality brands. However, by the same token, social can be exponentially more destructive to luxury brand equity if not handled properly. This article helps luxury, boutique hoteliers see the social web from a new perspective, provides insights on building a strategy that is unique to their story, and explores media that are consistent with their message.

According to Phau and Prendergast (2000), “luxury brands compete based on the ability to evoke exclusivity, brand identity, brand awareness, and perceived quality from the consumer’s perspective”. Not only will it be helpful to have a shared understanding of “luxury”, but the notion of a luxury brand maintaining its perceived quality and exclusivity can not be overstated.

The web is inherently social

Before we move forward in discussing the “social web”, it’s worth noting that the web has always been social. From its origins as a virtual hangout for physicists to share research, it was a social network. As the web grew to become a bigger part of our everyday lives, social networks evolved around our habits and our human desire to connect with each other. Our process for selecting these networks is also rather Darwinian, that is, the applications that allow us to connect with the people we care about in the most authentic way will always win out in the long term.

Therefore, when brand-speak creeps into a network, dominates the conversation, and effectively disrupts real people’s ability to connect with other real people, users will migrate to the next network. I believe that people subconsciously (and at times, quite publicly) resent the brands that corrupt the purity of a given social network, even if unintentionally. Given our assumption that luxury brands compete based on their ability to maintain a consistent identity and evoke a sense of exclusivity, they must be extremely careful, deliberate, and consistent when engaging social channels as part of their marketing strategy.

The balance of the article will outline the common mistakes made by brands on social channels, examine the profound impact of mobile devices on the social web, and provide some helpful advice for luxury, boutique hotels hoping to re-evaluate their use of social media.

Socially Awkward

Common corporate mistakes in social media

1. Misunderstanding your audience