2013 Social Hotel Award winners index

By Nathan Greenhalgh on 10/11/2013

The past year’s use of videos, custom apps and real-life event tie-ins showcased the global hotel industry’s willingness to invest more than ever in social media. As a result, innovation is blossoming and was evident in the more than 200 entries received for HOTELS’ second annual Social Hotel Awards.

Choosing the winners was difficult. Judges included:

  • Lee McCabe, head of travel, global vertical marketing, Facebook
  • Amy Jo Martin, founder, Digital Royalty, Las Vegas
  • Burns Patterson, COO, Middleton & Gendron, New York City
  • Chris Jackson, president, GCommerce, Park City, Utah
  • The editors of HOTELS

HOTELS congratulates all of the winners and thanks everyone that submitted entries, as well as the judges for their time and effort. Click here to read about the awards in the October issue of HOTELS Magazine.


Hampton Hotels, a brand of Hilton Worldwide won the 2013 Social Hotel Award for best digital video, brand.

As part of its “Feel the Hamptonality” campaign, in September 2012 Hampton launched the “Hamptonality Moments” series of videos featuring real stories from guests that were recreated for the series. One video tells the story of a father and daughter embarking on a softball tournament trip and shows how a Hampton staff member helped facilitate their repeat stay.

The videos were distributed on Facebook, YouTube and, and promoted on platforms like Twitter and other media channels such as email and display advertisements. Hampton partnered with the HHonors loyalty program and decided to incentivize social engagement by offering 500 Hilton HHonors points for watching the video and sharing it with friends.

Hampton reported three million video views in eight weeks and a 60% increase in Facebook fans since the launch of the campaign.


JW Marriott Cancun Resort and CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort, Mexico, won the 2013 Social Hotel Award for best digital video, property.

Five travel video bloggers — “vloggers” — were selected to travel to Cancun to each produce one original video highlighting the two sister resorts, where they were hosted for five days. The resorts invested approximately US$6,100 in the initiative. Throughout the campaign, vloggers were also asked to post their experiences on their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, using the hashtag #gottequila that was created to aggregate all social media posts at the end of the trip. A loose itinerary was provided, giving them the opportunity to experience and explore the resort at their leisure, as well as visit nearby attractions.

Vloggers were given the next two days to edit their videos. On the final night of the event, a public relations firm produced a vlogger film festival at the JW Marriott Cancun Resort, which was attended and judged by a panel of regional Marriott executives.

The campaign generated media value of US$378,280 and reached 1.8 million viewers.


Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Toronto won the 2013 Social Hotel Award for best Facebook page, brand.

Four Seasons has refreshed its Facebook page’s tone of voice with a more conversational and personal approach it calls “the voice of the traveler,” which shares inspirational content and highlights one-of-a-kind experiences. Four Seasons employs a corporate social media marketing team of four and a dedicated social media monitoring/guest relations team of two — in addition to more than 80 property-level social media marketers — to apply a 24/7 monitoring approach to adhere to the brand quality standard and nurture a deeper engagement with the Facebook community. Social teams work in tandem with operations to ensure coordination of digital and on-property guest experiences. The fan page encourages the posting and sharing of user-generated content.

The brand’s Facebook fan page followers increased more than 50% from April 2012 to April 2013. An increase in fan engagement resulted in 59,517 “shares” of Four Seasons brand Facebook content from January 2012 to April 2013. 


W Taipei, Taiwan won the 2013 Social Hotel Award for best Facebook page, property.

W Taipei focuses on contests and posts about cocktails, cuisine, events and celebrities on its Facebook page, emphasizing images instead of text. Instagram photos are posted regularly. To build followers, the hotel also tagged certain third-party fan pages, asked other fan pages such as to share information on the hotel and promoted the fan page with US$2,000 in Facebook advertisements targeting Hong Kong and Singapore users. In terms of features, the page allows users to book guestrooms, make spa and restaurant reservations, take a virtual tour, watch YouTube clips and access other W Taipei social media accounts.

W Taipei posts a maximum of two items a day on its Facebook fan page while responding to and messaging fans, and encouraging them to post on the fan page wall. Both English- and Chinese-language items are posted.

The hotel’s Facebook page is its top traffic referral source to its website, generating 69% of the website’s new visitors in the first quarter of this year.


Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Toronto, won the 2013 Social Hotel Award for best Facebook promotion, brand.

Four Seasons’ “Ignite the Spark” global promotion included an interactive Facebook application available on the brand fan page with localized versions of the app on property fan pages. The Facebook app invited all Facebook users to create their own personalized “countdown to romance” widget by filling in the details of a forthcoming romantic getaway, with the option of selecting their partner’s Facebook profile. Once completed, the app generated a live ticker that counted down the days until the user’s romantic escape, and the widget could be embedded on any website. The app also generated romantic tips and ideas specific to the couple’s trip and expressed interests.

The Facebook app generated 15,854 Facebook post “likes” and 2,025 Facebook post “shares,” and had a Facebook post reach of 1,356,448. Among those who visited the booking widget within the Facebook app, 92% checked availability at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.


Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole, Wyoming, won the 2013 Social Hotel Award for best Facebook promotion, property.

The “Stealth Stache” contest was created as an interactive way to launch and promote on-property gastropub The Handle Bar. The contest challenged consumers to capture, share and submit photos of their own Stealth Stache (such as putting their finger over their mouth to make a fake moustache) for a chance to win a vacation for two to Four Seasons Jackson Hole. The campaign was timed to integrate with the “Movember” annual event that raises awareness of male cancer during the month of November.

For the campaign, a custom tab was created on Facebook to serve as a hub for all entries submitted on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and the Offerpop photo contest application was utilized and registered the #StealthStache hashtag so all entries from Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram would be pulled in automatically.

During the campaign the hotel’s Facebook fan page gained 2,582 fans, a 130% increase compared to the previous month.


Hilton Worldwide’s brand DoubleTree by Hilton won the 2013 Social Hotel Award for best integrated digital campaign, brand.

The Little Things Project Tour and supporting social media campaign revolved around the message, “At DoubleTree by Hilton, the little things mean everything.” From May 2012 to November 2012 the campaign bridged the digital and physical world with the Swarm Car that asked travelers to send requests to DoubleTree’s Twitter account with the hashtag #LittleThings. There also was a traveling pop-up event marked by the “Tell Me Tree.” Bloggers and consumers were targeted for outreach via frequent Twitter and Facebook updates. The campaign included local deals, free Wi-Fi, device charging stations, instant-win cards promoting the Facebook sweepstakes and free chocolate chip cookies to drive enrollment in Hilton Worldwide’s HHonors loyalty program.

DoubleTree by Hilton said it exceeded by a multiple of three its goal for new Twitter followers, by 2.5 its goal for Facebook followers, by tenfold its goal for sweepstakes entrants and by three times its goal for HHonors enrollments. Three thousand “little things” requests were distributed at each of the markets the campaign visited, and the campaign was extensively covered by U.S. consumer media.


InterContinental New York Barclay and The Terrace Hotel, Perth, Australia both won by tie the 2013 Social Hotel Award for best integrated digital campaign, property.

While New York City was being battered by Superstorm Sandy, InterContinental New York Barclay promoted on-property events and posted frequent updates on Facebook and Twitter to increase awareness of the hotel’s positive programs and events for stranded and stressed guests.

In November 2012, The Terrace Hotel held a Social Media Sleepover, hashtagged #SocMedSleepover, which brought together a cross-section of social media influencers to celebrate the launch of a luxury hotel by playing a roleplaying version of the popular Cluedo/Clue board game with 17 guests chosen to attend.

While other local hotels let their social media accounts go silent during Sandy’s onslaught, the InterContinental New York Barclay saw its total number of impressions total more than 500,000 — three times the average monthly number.

Between November 18 and 25, The Terrace Hotel reached more than 120,000 social media accounts with 2.5 million impressions.


ITC Hotels, Gurgaon, India won the 2013 Social Hotel Award for best reputation management: social media, brand.

ITC Hotels has a real-time recording mechanism and four levels of criticality to classify each comment to ensure the most important ones are addressed first. Each ITC hotel is notified of these customer comments in real time to either respond on the review site directly or to provide the central social media team with an appropriate response that addresses the comment, and on-property staff are notified. ITC also constantly identifies, based on certain evaluation criteria, bloggers to host at its hotels to blog and tweet about their experiences.

Over the past year, ITC saw its ratio of positive to negative TripAdvisor reviews improve from 1,032:221 to 1,530:295. On Twitter, 43 negative tweets were resolved into positive tweets from guests.

ITC’s outreach to bloggers produced nearly 200 blog posts by more than 150 Indian and international bloggers between April 2012 and March 2013.


Royal Wing Suites & Spa, Pattaya, Thailand, won the 2013 Social Hotel Award for best reputation management: social media, property.

The hotel’s Internet marketing team monitors reviews with software, summarizes the results and reports them to the hotel’s senior managers, sorting online comments from guests for the department responsible. The hotel’s general manager is responsible for responding to each reviewer — both on the online platform where the review occurred and via a direct email within 24 hours in the original language used.

The hotel also holds weekly meetings to go over any negative comments, and the department heads relevant to the subject of the complaint are required to attend. The social media monitoring and response is conducted entirely in-house.

The hotel consistently places in the top three hotels in Pattaya in TripAdvisor’s rankings and receives roughly 30 new bookings per month referred from TripAdvisor. It has won the TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice award two years in a row. The hotel’s percentage of return guests is 65%.


Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Toronto, won the 2013 Social Hotel Award for best use of Twitter, brand.

Fairmont focuses on adding value for its Twitter followers through special offers and incentives such as an American Express Partnership that offered a free night for cardholders. Twitter followers that interact with Fairmont occasionally receive gifts and giveaways as a reward for following. Fairmont alerts followers to services and amenities as well.

Fairmont also provides real-time support while users are on-property and publishes a series of #FHRLocal hashtag tweets to highlight colleagues with deep knowledge of their destinations.

Fairmont used Twitter to launch the brand’s second annual “Get Steeped” Tea Month, during which fans were encouraged to share their favorite stories of taking afternoon tea at Fairmont and were periodically gifted a limited-edition tea specially blended for Fairmont’s tea celebration.

The brand’s Twitter followers more than doubled in a year, going from 23,000 followers in January 2012 to more than 52,000 today. The “Get Steeped’ campaign generated more than US$100,000 in revenue, and the Twitter promotion with American Express generated more than US$100,000 worth of bookings in 2012, all from Twitter posts.


Renaissance Blackstone Chicago Hotel won the 2013 Social Hotel Award for best use of Twitter, property.

The hotel’s lead navigator began using the hotel’s Twitter account during downtime at her desk for interaction and soon was adding 20 followers a week using #ChiChat, #travel and other hashtag opportunities. Local vendors, restaurants and fellow concierges were targeted, and there have been a number of Twitter interactions that have resulted in bookings at the Blackstone. The Twitter account is also used for real-time customer service for guests staying at the hotel.

In 2012, the Blackstone was one of Sage Hospitality's best properties reporting revenue from social media channels with close to US$5,000 from 33 room nights booked with a direct referral from social media and 548 visits linking back to the hotel's social media channels.


Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Toronto, won the 2013 Social Hotel Award for best use of visual/photographic social networks, brand.

Four Seasons’ Instagram campaign “Four Seasons Fotog” used the #FSFotog tag to share exclusive of-the-moment and behind-the-scenes photos designed to inspire wanderlust with the goal of building brand awareness and occasionally sharing user-generated content. Four Seasons created photo contests to celebrate the opening of its flagship Four Seasons Hotel Toronto and gave select shared romantic pictures US$250 gift cards for the #IgnitetheSpark Instagram promotion. Other brand initiatives included the launch of the #ThroughTheEyesOf “Instagram Takeover” photo series, which spotlighted unique Four Seasons personalities around the world for a day.

Instagram is Four Seasons’ fastest-growing social media channel, and in less than one year, Four Seasons Fotog acquired more than 9,500 fans, 96,045 likes (173 average likes per photo) and 2,908 comments.


Hamilton Island, Australia, won the 2013 Social Hotel Award for best use of visual/photographic social networks, property.

The private island resort held the “Pilgramers Descend on Hamilton Island — The Ultimate Instameet” event in which Australian and American Instagrammers were hosted for a few days last November.

To recruit Instagrammers for the Instameet, the Pilgramers created video callouts on YouTube to Australian and American Instagrammers to win one of five holidays to join them on Hamilton Island. Contestants posted a photo on Instagram of their idea of paradise with the competition hashtag. More than 3,000 entries were received, with four winners from Australia and one winner from the United States selected.

The Instagrammers explored the island and surrounding natural sights. The group captured all their experiences on Instagram and other social media outlets, sharing the Instameet in real time with their networks of friends, fans and followers.

The Instameet produced more than 640 images that reached more than 8 million people through social media, including 815,000 of the property’s direct Instagram followers. The Instameet was also filmed, and a YouTube documentary was produced. The event increased the resort’s Instagram followers from 269 to 9,028 and boosted its Facebook fan page followers from 18,478 to 22,791. The event generated 116 pieces of media coverage that reached an estimated 65 million people, represented a public relations value of US$2,265,524, and a return on investment ratio of 1:90.

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