Millennials and other travelers are no longer learning about their destinations by reading a guidebook, trusting a print ad, or believing everything they see on a company’s corporate website.
Instead, they’re basing their choices on envy-inducing Instagram feeds featuring recent trips, which has coined its own term: “The Instagram Effect.”
At the same time, these consumers are looking to experience a destination rather than merely visit.
Considering that Millennials are overtaking Baby Boomers as the largest demographic and that their purchasing power is already estimated at $285 billion annually, hospitality clients are eager to discover how they can use innovative new tools to attract Millennials in the future.
A New Way To Experience The Big Easy
The New Orleans Marriott brings this idea to Instagram, turning the platform into the @NewOrleansAdventure that helps their guests and Instagram users discover local gems of New Orleans.
Rather than serving a static typical post, a promotional movie, or tweet about New Orleans, the hotel created a dynamic world for Instagram users to choose where they would sip, savor, and experience the Big Easy.
Do they want to create a gumbo at Langlois, Chef Amy Sins’ interactive cooking school in the funky Marigny district, or would they rather taste Chef Slade Rushing’s new creations at classic French Quarter eatery Brennan’s?
These are the kind of difficult (and delicious) decisions faced by the journeymen of the @NewOrleansAdventure.
“Travelers are looking for innovative social media experiences that help them anticipate what they’ll be feeling, seeing, and hearing when they step into a new city,” social media expert and CEO of Casual Fridays Tyler Anderson says.
“If a hotel is seen as the resource that provides that help, it positions the hotel as a trusted expert who cares about their guest’s overall experience, not just when they’re on-property.”
An Interactive Instagram Campaign Success
During the first month of campaign, the New Orleans Marriott saw a 39% increase in engagement on its hotel Instagram account, plus a 13% increase in organic growth of followers.
The @NewOrleansAdventure posts reached at least 26,167 unique users across Instagram and Facebook.
The Next Big Thing
Thanks to this foundation, the New Orleans Marriott’s #MarryMeNOLAContest was set up for success in January, where it garnered over 130,000 impressions.
At the beginning of the journey, users are informed there’s some urgency to their adventure: their best friend is about to get married in the New Orleans Marriott’s new Riverview Ballroom, a luxurious space that looms 41 stories over the historic French Quarter.
They then explore options for where to drink, dine, and go out. Fittingly, they arrive at the wedding in the last phase of the adventure, and there’s an extra surprise for them: a custom video to relive the journey, plus the announcement of the New Orleans Marriott’s $46,000 wedding giveaway from January 15-February 15.
How’d It Happen?
To create this adventure, the New Orleans Marriott’s social media team required 41 new Instagram accounts that all were carefully linked.
Each Instagram account required three-to-nine customized graphics, all of which needed to be ordered in a specific sequence.
The final 26 accounts, each of which represent every combination of choices in the @NewOrleansAdventure, needed 26 customized recap videos.
Additionally, the adventure had nine featured partners that were chosen after extensive research and vetting through New Orleans’ famously large restaurant and nightlife community.
“Thanks to the partnership and experiential elements of this campaign, we were able to combine the three pillars of social media strategy: excellent customer service by anticipating and customize our adventure to the users’ needs, important partnerships with influential businesses in the community, and engaging content that leads to growth and increased exposure for the New Orleans Marriott.”
Now that the #MarryMeNOLAContest has concluded, the hotel is able to repurpose and tweak the campaign at any time to suite its own needs – and, more importantly, what its target audience wants.
The Bigger Picture
This dramatic departure from the normal hospitality social media strategy takes the New Orleans Marriott beyond a hotel and into the idea of being a experience generator.
Hospitality social media experts have user generated content, social listening, surprise and delights, and smart booking retargeting down pat.
Initiatives like @NewOrleansAdventure signal that it’s time to look further than that and become an innovator of these experiences in the digital world, just the New Orleans Marriott and its hospitality peers are when it comes to reimaging unusual packages, diverse vacations, and large-scale events for their guests.