For hotels in China, social media never stopped

The stories on the ground in China in recent weeks, as its hotels reopen post-lockdown, are filled with tales of innovation and surprising resilience. InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) closed nearly 180 properties in China, but by the end of March, two-thirds were back in business.

Marriott International reported 90 hotels closed in mid-February, but two-thirds reopened a month later. Business is slowly recovering, according to a Marriott spokesperson in China, where occupancy rose to 25% in mid-April.

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Contributed by Ron Gluckman

Luxury brands dependent on international corporate and leisure travel are rebuilding in novel ways.

Social media also has been leveraged to reconnect with customers, in creative fashion. “Live streaming is becoming a new trend for the hotel industry in China,” says Karena Liu, senior manager, corporate communications for IHG Greater China.

Besides music programs, chef talks, and meetings, she said hotels have even live-streamed weddings. It not only keeps potential customers engaged – the events have proven incredibly popular with locked-down residents.

Marriott began its own live streams, with Chinese culinary director Leo Cao demonstrating how to cook five-star feasts, at home, watched by nearly 175,000 people at a time. W Hotels hosts online music parties with its hottest DJs.

IHG also posted videos of chefs teaching cooking classes, as well as bartenders mixing cocktails, and gym trainers offering home workout tips to appreciatively large, locked down audiences. One video by celebrity chef and brand ambassador Shuwei Lin received over 500,000 likes on Tik Tok, a top mobile video app in China, Liu says.

“We are leading with our F&B,” says Stefan Leser, CEO of Langham Hotels International, Hong Kong. “There’s a lot of pent-up demand for going out.”

Leser says social media feeds were less about selling then reconnecting with the community. “It’s something we’ve always emphasized, and continue to do so,” he says. “The message is, we all went through this together.”