With hotel listings in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and more cities on the way, Hotelied is perhaps the most ambitious addition to the growing number of opportunities targeting travellers with social network followings. In 2011, the Radisson Blu Edwardian brand gave guests of its Manchester and London hotels late checkouts if they checked in on Facebook or Foursquare. Last year, American Airlines offered one-day lounge passes to travellers with a score of 55 or higher on Klout.com, which measures peoples digital influence (the average score is around 40). This summer, InterContinental Hotels Group asked travellers to use Instagram and hashtags to try to win a trip to New York City. And the perks continue to proliferate. With social media now as much a part of the vacation experience as sunscreen, freebies and discounts are also being offered through networks such as Instagram and Pinterest.
The more followers you have, the more robust your social media presence, the more alluring you are to hospitality brands. But the truth is that you dont need to have legions of followers to be eligible for many of the perks being dangled today. However, you do need to consider whether you want to do whats required to receive those benefits. Often it means sacrificing privacy not only by broadcasting where you are or sharing a photo of yourself, but also by allowing a third-party site like Hotelied to have access to your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Also, be careful how frequently youre posting content in exchange for a perk, or risk alienating followers who might begin to think of you as a brands mouthpiece. And one last caveat: it takes time to tweet and check-in frequently enough to earn significant rewards. Do you have that time to spare
The answer may not be yes, but for many people, points and perks are an irresistible game. If you love to play, heres a guide to some of the latest offerings:
When you sign up for this newcomer to the hotel-booking landscape, youre asked to add your social media networks and your hotel and airline loyalty programmes. That information is then used to decide which rates youre charged based on whether the hotel is, as the site explains, targeting frequent travellers, loyal travellers or guests who work in specific industries such as fashion, entertainment, business, or education. The number of followers you have may come into play if the hotel wants to boost its social presence with guests. The information you share is obviously available to Hotelied, though the site says it is not shared directly with the hotels. Instead, Hotelied does the matching between its members and the hotels.
With the words Fancy a free night, this boutique chain is in the habit of inviting its local social media followers to stay free in its about-to-open hotels in order to test their operations. In the past, followers have gotten free nights in cities, including Glasgow and Rotterdam. In May, CitizenM used its Twitter and Facebook accounts to offer free stays at a new hotel, CitizenM Paris Charles de Gaulle. Were looking for people to test our new hotel before it opens! No tricks, said one tweet. If you want to participate next time, theres an opening near you, all you have to do is follow the chains feeds. But be quick: its first-come-first-served.
Share, Like, Tweet, Repeat. Thats the maxim for the brands new PlusPoints programme, which allows travellers to earn up to 2,000 points a month by interacting with the chain through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Foursquare. To earn points, you must join the Marriott Rewards programme, then connect your social networks to your Marriott account (Marriott Rewards points can be used towards stays at the brands hotels). You can earn 25 points each time you share content about Marriott and its rewards programme, and 250 points when you like a hotels Facebook page or follow a property on Twitter. You can earn points by checking into properties on Facebook; following certain brands and properties on Instagram; retweeting Marriotts posts and adding the hashtag #MRpoints; and using the hashtags #MRpoints, #LoveMarriottRewards, #RenHotels or #AutographHotels in your Twitter and Instagram posts. Points can also be redeemed for gift cards. For instance, 5,000 points get you a $10 gift card at retailers such as Best Buy, Gap, Lowes or Macys; 7,500 points earn you a $15 iTunes gift card.
Each week through October 26, Hilton Hotels & Resorts is giving away a two-night stay at its properties worldwide to a traveller who shares an image from his or her own adventures on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag, #HiltonStory. Winners are announced weekly, and there is no limit as to how often you can submit a photo. If you dont win a hotel stay, you might win... a smartphone cover instead. Each week, Hilton is randomly selecting #HiltonStory entrants to receive a free phone case from a collection called Hilton x Casetify.
Mandarin Oriental, Paris
Beginning in October, the hotel will begin offering an of-the-moment package: selfie in Paris. It includes breakfast for two, the use of a private Mercedes-Benz E-Class with Wi-Fi and a driver for three hours, a list of the best spots in Paris to 'take the perfect selfie', and a room starting at 995 euros a night. Guests who upload a selfie to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Google+ and use the handle @MO_PARIS and the hashtag #MOselfiecontest will be entered into a competition. At the end of each month through January 2015, the hotels general manager will pick the winning selfie and the photographer-cum-subject will receive a free nights stay at the hotel.
In July, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants rolled out a new loyalty programme, Kimpton Karma Rewards. Among the many ways to earn perks (other than staying at the hotels) is to give the brand a shout-out on social media. What exactly that might get you is intentionally opaque. It requires a leap of faith in the idea that, as the programme name suggests, karma is cause and effect; a good deed done to someone shall later bring a good result to you. Theres only one way to know.