Leading Luxury Brand Praised for focus on quality over quantity
Chevy Chase, MD, July 28th, 2014 – When independent social analytics provider Engagement Labs published their hotel industry social media engagement report earlier this month, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, LLC was ranked number one – more than 25 points ahead of all other hospitality companies. The ranking was based on Engagement Labs’ eValue analytics tool http://www.engagementlabs.com/top-10-hot-social-hotels/. It was also the second engagement study this year that gave the first place spot to The Ritz-Carlton brand, which was reported in February by the social media benchmarking and engagement analysis firm Shareablee (http://shareablee.com/). The study revealed that across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, The Ritz-Carlton received almost four times more engagement than any other hotel chain.
In April 2009, The Ritz-Carlton made its first foray into the social environment with the launch of a Facebook page and Twitter channel. The brand made an early decision not to chase a large audience of unqualified fans, but rather to focus on building an audience of keen travel, luxury, lifestyle and brand enthusiasts with whom they would engage in daily conversation.
“Social media affords us the opportunity to interact in meaningful ways with our communities; developing deeper connections with them and enabling conversation even when they are not physically staying with us. The interactions across each of the 12 social channels on which we have a presence are a natural extension of the way in which we interact with our guests in hotels,” said Ed French, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer. “We seek to enrich the social media experience and to be a primary source of trusted travel information and insights for our fans and followers. The importance of each of our online channels continues to grow as our guests live more of their lives in the digital space,” he added.
Today, each Ritz-Carlton channel connects with past, present and future guests. There is a deliberate absence of promotions and contests that drive short-term followers for a temporary period of interest and engagement. “We know that our guests treasure the memories they make at The Ritz-Carlton, whether in San Francisco or Singapore, “ shared Allison Sitch, Vice President Global Public Relations, who oversees The Ritz-Carlton social media communities. “Each of our channels, and each piece of content we publish (20-40 per day) is crafted to enrich the brand experience for our fans. On foursquare we bring the insights of our Concierge to guests’ pockets. On Twitter, we provide a single source for inspiration from our portfolio and curate #RCMemories from around the globe. On LinkedIn, we bring the thought leadership of our senior executives to the forefront. Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram engage with guests in their daily lives with bite-sized content that connects as they plan for, or reflect upon their journeys with us” she added. “We are also testing some interesting ideas on WeChat and Sina Weibo in China; bringing The Ritz-Carlton to life for guests being introduced to the brand for the first time. Calculated decisions are made about how, when and where our followers will consume content; this type of thinking led us to position Ritz-Carlton Reserve on Tumblr, a network that allows us to bring long-form content to life, and detail the experiential nature of staying at a Ritz-Carlton Reserve.”
The Ritz-Carlton spends as much time seeking to understand consumers as they do composing content for them. Each social network has its own set of metrics used by the brand to produce analytic insight into the most popular content curated. “If something doesn’t quite drive the engagement we would hope for, we work quickly to revise and adjust the approach. Large numbers aren’t the goal. Likes and retweets don’t necessarily translate to engaged consumers,” added Sitch. “When we look at the completed body of work, our measure of success is whether or not we have succeeded in connecting with guests in a way that matters to them. That could mean addressing an inquiry about services during a stay, or it could mean inspiring a guest to discover a new experience by traveling to somewhere new.”
According to Ed Gazarian, Vice President Client Services at Pandemic Labs, the social media partner agency of The Ritz-Carlton, the big data social media provides is a significant benefit when seeking to understand consumers. But it can also be misleading if reacted to, too quickly. “Each engagement with a guest is its own unique interaction. Each social media touch point is an opportunity to grow a relationship and foster a deeper connection with The Ritz-Carlton” said Gazarian.
The Ritz-Carlton has a proven track record of using social networking platforms to build and enhance the brand and bring people together in the same physical space or event. It successfully used Twitter to underscore its central role at global events such as Toronto International Film Festival, International Luxury Travel Market, Arabian Travel Market and IMEX America, whilst broadcasting and conversing about the brand’s messages on a large scale and also drawing foot traffic to physical spaces by engaging with other attendees.
The effectiveness of The Ritz-Carlton on social media has led to significant year-on-year increases across all leading platforms, including Facebook which has jumped nearly 30% percent to more than 1.2 million fans across the company’s brand page and 65 hotel Facebook pages. In addition, the brand Facebook Page consistently performs at over double the Facebook-established benchmark for post level engagement.
“The Ritz-Carlton brand philosophy is built around the concept of providing unique experiences for our guests that leave indelible memories after a visit to one of our hotels,” continued French. “With the continued growth and influence of social media we are seeing this amplified online more than ever before. Therefore it is essential for us to remain relevant to the consumer and be strategic and sensitive about the ways in which we engage in the space.”
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