What is the impact of the SoLoMo on the strategies of luxury hotel groups for the local markets
THE LUXURY HOTEL
What is the impact of the SoLoMo on the strategies
of the luxury hotel groups for the local markets?
Tutor: Mrs. E. ALBRYCHT
Director: Mrs. Marie CAZAUX - Director of public relations
France – Starwood Hotel and Resort worldwide
International Class - Mai 2013
PART 1: Luxury hotel industry and SoLoMo: The situation………………………………….P.7
I. The luxury hotel market, an innovative sector…………………………………………….P.7
1.The market ..……………………………………………………………………………………..P.7
2.The consumer ………………………………………………………………………………….P.9
3.The competition ……………………………………………………………………………...P.10
4.The communication medium for the LHI ………………………………………………...P.14
II. SoLoMo as a very helpful new communication concept for brands………………P.17
1.What is SoLoMo?............................................................................................................P.17
2.The mobile user………………………………………………………………………………..P.18
3.Why SoLoMo is a tendency to follow……………………………………………………..P.19
4.Mobile and Location…………………………………………………………………………P.20
5.Mobile and Social…………………………………………………………………………….P.21
6.Social and location…………………………………………………………………………..P.22
III. The luxury hotel industry needs SoLoMo to adapt itself to a new demand……..P.23
1.Improve the quality of service with SoLoMo…………………………………………….P.23
2.What could be risky?.....................................................................................................P.24
3.What would bring SoLoMo to a hotel brand strategy? ………………………………P.25
PART 2: Solomo impacts the strategies of the luxury hotels at the local level
I. Intercontinental hotel: a strong SoLoMo strategy……………………………………...P.26
II. SoLoMo Strategy of W hotels, strong and targeted…………………………………...P.29
III. Four Seasons – Locally adapted like their hotels………………………………………P.32
IV. Amble – Louis Vuitton’s SoLoMo success……………………………………………….P.34
PART 3: An innovative idea for the luxury hotel industry: when SoLoMo meets
I. A project adaptable to the Luxury hotel Industry……………………………………….P.39
II. Illustration of our idea with the W hotel brand…………………………………………..P.43
The luxury hotel industry is a field that must really attach some importance to the
service offered to the consumer. This industry has always known how to evolve with its
time, and this is an important fact. The luxury hotel industry, and more globally the
luxury industry is one of the only areas that are facing the economic crisis quite easily.
To take advantage of this position on the market, the marketers need to follow the
global tendencies. In a world gone digital the luxury hotel groups have to follow the
trends and be trendsetter on their own profession. The idea to study the luxury hotel
industry for my master thesis came to me when I was trying to book a hotel online for
my holidays. Of course, it wasn’t for a luxury hotel but the problem was that there
wasn’t any interaction on the different device I had access to (not anything on my
phone nor on the social networks…). I decided to have a look on the way they were
going on in luxury hotels, and it was completely different. A real experience was
created for the consumer. But now the question is: how to improve the experience of
the consumer by using other medium?
Today in the US 92% of hotel reservations are made directly from the Internet1 that is
why the marketers have to work on the websites and on digital marketing. But there
are also new means of communication that marketers have to exploit. Here we have
to understand to make the use of new strategies based on digital. The strategy we
are going to talk about is SoLoMo. SoLoMo is based on the use of the social networks,
the geo-location principle and the mobile technology. The consumer is going
beyond the website of a hotel to book his holidays. He needs more than that. He
needs advice from other consumers; he needs a digital experience, new services
adapted to his needs. A SoLoMo strategy is perfectly adapted to the new ways of
looking for a hotel.
My master thesis director Marie Cazaux was very interested about this concept of
SoLoMo in the luxury hotel industry. She is working for Starwood hotel and resort, a
giant of the luxury hotel industry in the world (7th rank worldwide2). She is working for
the public relations but is very attracted to new technologies and digital. She helped
me to understand better the world of the luxury hotel industry, to get some interesting
interviews of marketing directors from Starwood, and she gave me advice to build a
coherent strategy for one of the Starwood’s brand. I have decided to look toward
the W hotels. This Starwood brand is really turned into digital and targets a younger
audience. Moreover W hotel have been rewarded as the 1st digital hotel brand in
20133. They already have a SoLoMo strategy, but the experience is not completely
adapted to a local level. We will study this later in the second part of the master
thesis when we will study the W brand’s case.
The problematic of my work is the following one:
What is the impact of the SoLoMo on the strategies of the luxury hotel groups for the
That means: how the luxury hotel brands are using a SoLoMo strategy to focus on the
local market? How to measure the success or the fail of such a strategy? How do we
manage to change the relationship with the customers?
We are going to answer those questions through a strong plan.
The first part of the master thesis is going to focus on the situation of the luxury hotel
industry and the SoLoMo and how do they work together.
The second part is going to be the analysis of the subject: how the SoLoMo impacts
the strategies of the luxury hotels at the local level. In this part we are going to
analyse case studies of the following brands: the W hotel, Intercontinental, Four
Seasons and Amble (Mobile app of Louis Vuitton) while also taking in account the
ideas and advice of the professionals I interviewed.
Nicolas Hauvespre: Marketing director north Europe @Starwood
Natan Schauder: Marketing director France @Starwood
Raphaël Journé: Mobile Director @Care Agency
Charlotte Politti: Digital Consultant @Heaven Agency
And finally the third part is going to be axed on a new concept that we are advising
to the luxury hotel industry marketers, and we will study a concrete example to
illustrate it better.
Building this master thesis has been a real challenge for me, but I wanted to give
back a real advanced and reflective work.
I wish you a very nice reading moment.
PART 1: Luxury hotel industry and SoLoMo: The situation
During this first part we are going to take an overview about the luxury hotel industry
market, the consumer insights, the opportunities of this sector, and the way luxury
hotels are communicating in this industry. We are also going to see what SoLoMo is
and why it is an efficient and reliable way to communicate nowadays.
And finally we will see how SoLoMo is a good solution in term of communication for
the luxury hotels.
The luxury hotel industry market, an innovative sector
Luxury hotels are offering personalized and very luxurious services to their customers.
As the customers are evolving with the society and its tendencies, the hotels have to
follow those trends to offer their customers the best services they can.
1. The luxury hotel industry market: challenges of the changes:
The luxury hotel industry’s market has been facing many changes over the last years.
First, the economic crisis has particularly impacted the international travel for
business customers. The companies are cancelling some meetings and conferences
all over the world to save money. The employees are asked to favour online
conferences instead of travelling meetings. According to a study by Market Metrix
for The European Business Review “44% of business travellers say they’ll travel less in
2009 compared to 30% in the coming year”4. But for leisure, the reservations have
increased (from 13% to 14% in value5).
During these difficult times, people are more likely to travel in their own country or
continent. The customers are spending less in their travel but more for their hotel. For
instance in Europe, people prefer to change their itinerary to reduce the cost of their
travel. A French couple would rather travel in Europe or in France in a luxury hotel
instead of choosing a trip in the United States where they would spend a lot for the
Talking about destinations, let’s have a look to the most popular destination amongst
travellers. Till the 1990’s, France has been the first destination for tourism. This country
is followed by the US with 62.3 million of travellers, China with 57.6 million, Spain with
56.5 million and finally Italy with 46.1 million of visitors6. These countries are attracting
the travellers for their culture, landscapes and heritage.
One other thing has particularly changed the consumption of the luxury hotel
industry. It is of course the growth of the use of Internet for the choice of a hotel.
Even if the travel-specialized media still have an importance in the choice of a
consumer for their luxury hotel (we think about global magazines like Luxury Travel
Magazine, Monocle, etc.) today the most important point is about the connection
and reputation of luxury hotel brands online. 20% of the reservations of luxury hotels
are made because of web research and this number is going to increase over next
years because the world is going digital and mobile (with the tab and mobile
But one of the most important things in the reservation is that the word-of-mouth is
very important in the decision process. According to the same study by Market
Metrix, approximately 30% of all luxury guests are inspired to choose a travel
destination from friend’s recommendations8. Thanks to this data we might add the
fact that social networks can play an important role in the decision process because
friends or followers are always recommending some tips for holidays on these media.
It is also one of the big issues of the world’s digitalization for luxury hotels marketers.
The luxury traveller is also changing and evolving over the years and today he has a
different behaviour from few years ago. He is an experience lover and likes to be
surprised but not only, he has today even more high expectations. That is what we
are going to study in the next part.
2. The luxury traveller – A consumer with high expectations.
As we just said before, the luxury hotel industry is facing multiple challenges including
the transformation in the consumer’s behaviour. This is a real challenge because we
must respond to these new expectations to satisfy the guests. So what are these new
tendencies that have changed the consumer’s behaviour?
Today the consumers of luxury hotels are looking for entertainment. They are still
looking after a great quality of service but they are also expecting to live a real
experience through their journey.
Who are the main consumers of these hotels, where do they come from? There are
different types of customers in the luxury hotel industry. We first have to differentiate
two main groups of customers that do not have the same expectations. They are
B2C groups and B2B customers.
Let’s begin with the B2C. They are luxury travellers who are travelling to discover a
country or a city in a luxurious atmosphere. According to a study from the Affluence
Collaborative for Four Seasons, these customers have a strong purchasing power,
they have a high financial status and are likely to spend money for a good luxury
service. But what are they expecting from their hotel? Among them 34% are waiting
for customization (a special service offer adapted to what they like), 32% expect the
company’s hotel to be unique and totally innovative, and 32% are expecting to be
surprised and to live an incredible experience during their stay. They like to get
attentions and also to be pampered9.
Where do they come from? They are coming from rich and developed countries like
the United States, France, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, etc. They are also
coming from emerging markets: it’s a brand new target for the luxury hotel industry
marketers. They are accustomed to a very classic luxury; they are nouveau-riche
people, who just reached a new social status that allow them to have an access to
this type of hotels. They are coming from Mexico, China, Brazil, Russia, India, etc.
The B2B consumer is a very particular target. It is often big business groups who enjoy
partnerships with other hotel groups. In the hotel they are looking to organize
seminars, conventions or events in a luxurious atmosphere. They also use luxury hotels
as a place where their chief executives can stay during their business travels. They
are asking for reactivity and personalized B2B services.
Why is digital a key issue to target our customers?
According to Chuck Martin author of “The Third Screen”: with the digitalization of the
world we are observing the rise of the Untethered consumer10. The following
information is available for the mobile but also for the other digital devices.
So, who is the Untethered consumer? He is a consumer who does not use all the time
the traditional media like TV, Press and Radio and heads more toward digital
media/devices. With all his digital devices he interacts with his friends (word-ofmouth) through the social networks, he compares all the offers to get the best deal;
he also likes to live a real experience through his shopping. He wants to be in the
brand universe before experimenting it for real.
Of course this Untethered consumer is part of the target of the luxury hotel industry
because the “wealthy ones” are digital lovers. Indeed according to The Affluence
Collaborative for Four Seasons “57% among them like to have the latest gadget and
to know about what’s next in new technologies. 72% of the wealthy are active on
Facebook. And according to The Luxury Institute, one-third of wealthy consumers
own a tablet or an e-reader. 71% of guests bring their iPhones or smartphone and
61% their iPad or other tablet on their travel.” 11
There is also a real issue about digital: the e-reputation’s management of a brand to
face all the competitors of the luxury hotel market. It is a highly competitive market.
Let’s now have a look to the different stakeholders of the market.
3. The Luxury hotel industry - a highly competitive market:
On this market there are many different stakeholders.
What are the differences between these competitors, who are they trying to attract,
what are their positioning? Let’s have a deep look into it.
Traditionally, the luxury hotel industry is divided in 5 parts:
The palaces: very prestigious hotels, which are recognised for their know-how
and the beauty of the places. The George V in Paris for example (Four
The great luxury hotels: well-known and recognised hotels coming from big
international groups and internationally located. For example Intercontinental,
Small distinctive hotels: they are known for their quality of service and their
proximity with the customers. It is a human-scale kind of luxury. We can name
the French hotel chain “Les Fermes de Marie” located in the French Alps and
other independent hotels.
The jumbo jets: they are known for their enormous accommodation facilities
but they are of course respecting the luxury codes. We can name the Hilton
The last ones are the first class hotels, which are corresponding to the 4-stars
hotels (Westin – Starwood H&R).
Nevertheless, there are also new entrants in this industry.
According to the study about the luxury hotel industry by Precepta (Xerfi group)
there are two types of new entrants in this sector. There is a double competition12.
One is internal to the industry: among this we can notice a growing repositioning
strategy of the market (the classification of palace for example) and also the arrival
of new luxury hotels’ chains coming directly from the emerging markets. Among
them we can name two of the biggest chain coming from Asia: the Mandarin
Oriental and The Shangri La.
The other origin of competition is external to the market. There are few hotel chains
that are created by luxury groups. We can talk in this case about LVMH, which is one
of the biggest luxury groups in the world. LVMH opened “Le Cheval Blanc”, which is a
design-positioned luxury hotel brand. We can also talk about Armani, the famous
Italian luxury fashion brand, which opened its first hotel in Dubai in 2010 and an other
one in Milan the following year.
There are also other ways to get luxury services without having to stay in a luxury
hotel. People can stay in luxury tourism residences (very used for the business
consumption as the services are cheaper and because they have to reduce their
costs). Another possibility: booking luxury villas (more for leisure consumption for
holiday, but it can also be used for seminars or conventions for business).
What are the issues of this highly competitive market?
First of all, the hotels have a strong strategy based on their identity. The consumer has
to associate the brand with the architecture of the building. The hotels have to offer
The brands also have to control the distribution canals, because since the rise of the
Internet, the travel agencies are controlling the reservations (for example Trip
Advisor, Liligo, Expedia, etc.). We can notice it involves an image issue because with
tour operators we miss the luxury positioning of the brand. The hotel groups have to
work on direct reservation online: they have to develop their online ranking (search
engine optimization). It is also highly recommended for luxury hotel brands to create
interaction and connection with the Internet users. It is of high importance to
strategically create a social community (followers for instance), in order to federate
To conclude this part about competition, here is an illustration of these ideas with a
This mapping has two axes: one is about the historical canal of the hotel industry and
the new entrants, the other is about the ways they manage their image. We can say
that the traditional hotels seem to have a better strategy - talking about the image than the new entrants. But the new entrants coming from the emerging markets
have a very strong strategy too, and are evolving quickly. Some of the traditional
hotels do not have a strong enough image and this is a real problem. They have to
rework on this for the future or the new entrants will easily take their place.
Communication is a very important point for the luxury hotel brands’ image. The
luxury hotels have to communicate in the right way toward their target to
differentiate themselves from the numerous competitors.
4. Communication in the luxury hotel industry:
Since the rise of the Internet, communication has changed in all fields and it is the
same diagnosis as far as concern the luxury hotel industry. But some brands still
communicate in traditional media.
What are the main communication tendencies in the luxury hotel industry?
We are going to divide our analysis in two parts. We are first going to see that luxury
hotel brands are still communicating through traditional media (press), public
relations and finally direct marketing. Then we will see that these brands
communicate more and more online and through all the digital devices.
Even if online communication has become the biggest tendency in the way luxury
brands communicate, they are still advertising through traditional media. We of
course have to say they are not all concerned by these changes. We can put aside
the television, the radio, display and cinema.
Indeed marketers are particularly investing in press. The hotels that still have to pay
for advertising spaces are the small hotel brands. They are competing against very
well known brands, and paid media are indeed a solution for them. They are placing
their ads in travel magazines, locally adapted luxury magazines (Côte&Magazine, in
South of France), business travellers magazines etc. This type of communication for
luxury hotels is very rare today13. But some big groups like Ritz-Carlton are still
communicating through this canal. Anyway, marketers are trying to work more on
their own media but also on PR and direct marketing.
Let’s begin with PR. It is very important to work a lot on PR in the luxury hotel industry.
It is important for luxury hotels to stay visible in media through PR because journalists
and bloggers (with the rise of e-PR) are still influencing people’s hotel choice. There
are many articles about the luxury hotel industry in all the magazines and newsletters
but also on television and online. To ensure them a good reputation the luxury hotels
have to communicate regularly toward journalists, tell them about innovations in the
sector, about current trends, etc14.
Direct marketing is also often used in the luxury hotel industry. It is always very
discrete because in this industry the customer has to feel exclusive and to get a
personalized message or offer. That is why marketers are using very qualitative tools:
for example Ritz-Carton is sending very personalized mailings and e-mailings to their
loyal customers to let them know about special offers and to promote their loyalty
program. They are also sending the Ritz-Carlton magazine to their loyal customers; it
is like a gift for them and it also allows the customer to be aware of the latest news in
the group’s hotels15.
Let’s now have a deeper look at the digital part. For the elaboration of this part we
have used the very complete L2 Think Tank report “Digital IQ Index: Hotels” that you
will find annex 116.
What are the most important devices used by marketers to get in touch with
b The website: it is the mainly used digital platform in the luxury hotel industry. It is
the first step for customers to live the hotel’s experience. The potential
customer is checking on the website all the information about the hotel. The
website has to be the window of the hotel and it has to give a great overview
of what the customers are going to live during their journey. The website also
allows to manage a good customer relationship after his stay because he can
find on it all the loyalty programs. The customer also has the possibility to
access a direct customer service during his journey. 40% of the marketer’s
strategy in the luxury hotel industry is dedicated to the website.
Digital marketing: it is also a very important point because without digital
marketing it might be very difficult to generate traffic on the website. It all
begins with a good search engine optimization, because if the hotel does not
ensure it, travel agencies and tour operators would be ranked before the
hotels’ websites. But it is also about display, e-PR and e-mailing. The hotels
must have an irreproachable e-reputation. The digital marketing represents
30% of the strategy.
Mobile: it is going to be one of the main issues of the next few years but today
mobile is already very used in the luxury hotel industry. Communication on the
mobile device has become a very important fact, namely amongst the
business target. It is a good device to work on a local problematic, but also a
good way to stay in touch with customers wherever they are. There are few
ways to communicate on this device for the marketers: build a mobile site
(that of course has to have a different content of the website), build mobile
application (IOS and Android are the leaders) or launch display on mobile
app or mobile website that will redirect to the hotel mobile site or app. 20% of
the marketer’s strategy is dedicated to mobile in the luxury hotel industry.
Social Media: today social media are very powerful and of course the luxury
hotel brands have to be connected to interact with their customer and
respond to their requests. Indeed in the luxury hotel industry service has to be
everywhere even on the social networks. The hotels particularly use several
platforms. We can name: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, but also other
emerging social media like Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr… But some hotel
brands do not hesitate to create their own social media platform. Their wish is
to create a real community, which is going to be loyal to the brand. 10% of
their strategy is dedicated to social media.
Thus, we can say that even if the way of advertising to customers has changed, the
luxury hotel industry keeps working on communication. It is interesting to see the
changes through years and to observe how digital has become one of the biggest
issues in the way marketers are advertising in the luxury hotel industry.
Here is the end of our first part about the luxury hotel industry and its evolution
through years. We are now going to get a little further in our subject. Let’s now see
what the SoLoMo is.
SoLoMo, a new communication concept very helpful to
Through this second part, we are going to study what SoLoMo is and why it is an
efficient and reliable way to communicate today. We are also going to see, who are
the targets and we will finally add a little description of the situation of social media,
the geo-location and the mobile marketing and technology.
Let’s go straight to the point and have a concrete explanation of what SoLoMo is.
1. What is SoLoMo?
SoLoMo is an acronym that regroups the social networks, the geo-location
technology and the mobile devices. SoLoMo is all about services you can find on
your mobile devices. It gathers global information, the possibility to exchange with
your community through an included social network or through traditional social
media and finally the geo-location service that is sometime very helpful to the user
and is a real added value. We have to specify that the word “mobile” regroups the
following devices: smartphones and touchpads.
This concept was born since the mobile became one of the most used devices by
the consumers. Indeed this device allows the user to buy a product or service directly
from his phone or tab (this is the m-commerce), he can also chat with people and
friends on social media, take pictures and send them on the social networks, get a
location, and many other possibilities.
As Chuck Martin explains in his book, mobile is today the third most important screen
in people’s life. The first one was TV in the 1950’s, and then the computer at the end
of the 1990’s17. But nowadays we can obviously say that mobile is the screen of the
According to Strategy Analytics’ study, 1/7 person in the world in owning a
Smartphone, which is huge. This analysis predicts that in the year 2015 there will be 1
billion Smartphone users18.
Almost everybody has a mobile phone and through SoLoMo it might be interesting to
communicate toward consumers.
Who are the mobile consumers? Let’s have a look to it.
2. The mobile user:
This part was written with the help of Chuck Martin’s book The Third Screen –
Marketing to your customer in a world gone mobile. He is a mobile marketing expert
and he gives a very good definition about the famous Untethered consumer19.
Who is he? This consumer is a consumer who does not use all the time the traditional
media and heads more toward digital media and devices. He uses his Smartphone
and it is a totally personal device. He does not let anyone touch his phone, or it will
directly touch his privacy. He becomes an m-powered customer “The mobile
customer can check prices on location, compare items against competitor’s
offering, and get on-the-spot recommendation from friends”20. The m-powered
consumer is easy to lose if we don’t attract him the right way; he compares
everything especially the prices to get the best deal.
We know that there are 75 countries where cell phone penetration exceeds
population. It’s because many people have 2 phones, one for personal use and
another one for professional use.
In the book we can find a part about luxury brands and mobile: “As mobile grows in
all parts of the world, it is also affecting luxury brands, which may have waited along
the digital side-lines until the capacity arrived to electronically replicate the luxury
brand experience21”. Indeed, luxury brands have to create a real experience on the
digital devices to touch the Untethered consumer.
Let’s have a look to a typical day of the Untethered consumer22:
First when he wakes up, he turns on his tab to watch the news, to check his emails and notifications on various social networks.
Then on his way to work he checks his phone, he is using applications, and he
also checks his e-mails and notifications.
When he arrives at work he turns on his business computer and is exposed to
different messages but always has a connection to his phone. During the day
and particularly during lunchtime he connects to the social networks.
When his working day is over, he goes back home and checks once more his
phone to use applications and checks his e-mails and notifications.
At the end of the day and particularly in the evening he turns on his tab to
entertain, and to communicate on the social media.
We also have to insist on the fact that during holidays or travels people are
systematically taking with them their new technological partners: Smartphone and
This typical day of the Untethered consumers assets that brands have to stay in touch
with this type of consumers. A SoLoMo strategy is perfectly adapted to target the
3. Why is SoLoMo a tendency to follow?
As the consumer has evolved since the last few years, communication has to follow
this evolution and has to adapt to the new way of media consumption. SoLoMo is
perfectly adapted to it.
We can notice that the leaders of the World Wide Web are also following this new
tendency. We can name the famous search engine brand Google, the social
networks Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and many other brands like Groupon,
The brands have to follow this tendency, as it becomes today the new way to
communicate. And of course they are already doing it. In the second part of this
master thesis, we will have a look to some case studies of hotel brands and other
brands that are using SoLoMo in their communication strategy.
4. Mobile and location:
Chuck Martin, Author of The Third Screen explains us that there is a new marketing
solution, which is very efficient to target the Untethered consumer. It is the locationbased marketing (LMB)25. It is all about reaching the consumer with an advertising
message based on the location of his phone.
The location of the customer is not the only important thing, it is also the movement
of the customer: for example if he is near an airport that means he is going to travel
and that may mean that he is going to look for an hotel and also to get some tips
about his destination.
The author calls this analysis of the customer’s movement “In motion research”. With
this we can see where the customers are going and what they do.
What are the most used techniques to attract the customers?
Location drivers: the brands will deliver coupons or discount on some products
or services to attract the consumer if he is around the store.
Location magnet: this is an offer, which is going to be sent to the customer
when he arrives in the store.
Location activators: when the mobile customer buys a product, he will get
discounts or coupons directly on his phone. The objective of this point is to
make him come again and consume other product or services similar to what
he already bought26.
Digital coupons are increasingly used by brands and it becomes a real issue for
mobile marketing. With mobile devices, you don’t need to print your coupons
anymore nor receive a printed mail that you would have to bring at the store. They
are well placed on your phone waiting to be scanned, as you always carry your
phone with you, you can always have an access to them.
“Number one mobile marketing category based on return on investment is
The mapping is also an interesting device we should use. It allows to geo-locate
yourself to see what is around you, and this is a real added value for the consumer as
it offers him a new service to help him in his daily life.
5. Mobile and Social Media:
Social media have an increasing importance in people’s life. They are sharing
information, advice, and opinions on social networks, which are becoming very
powerful. Today brands must have a social media strategy.
As the world is going mobile, social media have evolved to become mobile
platforms. Today people can share anywhere, at any time. Social networks are the
way to spread word of mouth.
Brands have to be present on the social media to keep in touch with their customers
or people who like their brands. How do they have to deal with it?
There is an important statement: companies are beginning to give up the traditional
customer relationship management (SMS, mail, call centre, etc.) in favour of the
social network management. The brands have to create a real relationship with their
customers on social networks. It is very important for a company to build a strong
and loyal community of followers and likers, who are going to interact with them.
They have to build a social marketing strategy based on the rule of the 4 I according
to the theory of Christine Balague and David Fayon in their book Facebook, Twitter
et les autres: implication, interaction, intimacy and influence28.
But creating a social network strategy could be risky for a brand. If they are not
controlled enough by the company, the users can take the control and blame the
brand. With the power of mobile it is even truer.
Today people are connected all day long on social media thanks to their mobile.
They are using several platforms: among them we can name Facebook, Twitter,
Pinterest, Foursquare, Instagram and many others. We have to precise that the
previously named social networks are the most known and used in the world but
there are many others that have the same functionalities but are locally adapted to
some countries. As an example we could point QQ or Renren in China, Orkut in Brazil
and India, or Mixi in Japan, which are direct competitors of Facebook.
Social medias and location:
Indeed, social media and location are extremely linked. Because today on almost all
social media platforms you can geo-locate yourself to tell where you are to your
close friends, or to tell something is happening in a precise location. It is an extremely
important point for the brands. We have today to encourage people to tell on social
media that they are at a certain event, organized by a certain brand, or shopping in
a particular shop, or staying in a certain hotel. It is also a way to be promoted by the
customers and to spread word-of-mouth through social media.
Some social networks are dedicated to geo-location. We can take the example of
Foursquare. This platform is used to tell your friends where you are and what you are
doing. A competition is set – you can be the mayor of a certain place (it can be a
shop, a museum, a restaurant or whatever). Sometimes, brands are working with
Foursquare to build their strategy and are setting contests. For example a bar could
launch a contest on Facebook: the Foursquare Mayor in May would win free beers. It
would encourage the traffic in the bar through Foursquare.
6. SoLoMo’s dangers:
We have to say that SoLoMo is not the best practice to protect personal data and
privacy. Of course it is creating some risks.
We first have to say that the mobile user isn’t very careful. Almost nobody reads the
general terms and conditions when downloading something on his phone. When
downloading an application, we are delivering all our personal data. And if we
accept to open our location data, brands will be able to access our precise location
at any time.
So today people have the feeling that there is something wrong. Their personal data
are not safe anymore and they are very worried about it. Even if states are
reinforcing the laws to protect the personal data, there is always a way to get round
Of course we can understand these fears of intrusion in our private life through
mobile technology. SoLoMo has some pervert aspects but people also like to
interact with brands, and they are also warned by the general terms and conditions
of use. If they do not read them, they are not aware that brands can use their data.
To end this part about SoLoMo, we can say that it is a very innovative and powerful
concept that brands should use if they want to target the Untethered consumer who
has new media consumption behaviour.
Let’s now focus on SoLoMo and the luxury hotel industry. Why is it a good
communication tool to target the luxury customers?
The Luxury Industry needs SoLoMo to adapt its strategy to
a new audience:
As the other sectors, the luxury hotel industry has evolved with its time. And it is all the
more important for this business given the fact that the customer service must be
irreproachable. SoLoMo has to offer a plus service to the hotel brand’s customers,
with an incredible brand experience. That is what the luxury consumer is expecting.
1. Improve the quality of service through SoLoMo:
We have already noticed in the previous parts that the quality of service is very
important for a luxury hotel. So how would SoLoMo improve it?
First of all, SoLoMo could help the consumer through his reservation. We know that
today many reservations are made through mobile platforms, and SoLoMo could
make his reservation more interactive. For example if we make a reservation through
a mobile app and we want to ask a question, you don’t need to send an email
anymore. There will be a link to the Twitter or Facebook page of the hotel and
through the social media the customer will have a quick and more personalized
answer. There could also be a link to the TripAdvisor page of the hotel, to be totally
transparent with the customer; we know that word-of-mouth is very important for the
reservation of a hotel.
What is also important for customers is to live a real brand experience through his
reservation. The SoLoMo platform has to be the virtual reflect of the brand, to catch
the customer’s attention and to make him think that this hotel is the best. All the
different luxury hotels have different values and positioning. The customer has to feel
and live an unusual experience during the reservation and also during his stay. With a
SoLoMo platform we could think that if the customer is waiting for a cab at the
airport and that the queue is huge, he could tweet it on the hotel’s Twitter feed, the
hotel would send him a car to catch him at the airport.
To get a little more familiar with the city he his discovering thanks to the geo-location
we could imagine an integrated map on the application that would guide the
consumer through the city, and some tips would be given (nice restaurants, places
to visit, shops, of course always linked to luxury). Through Facebook or Twitter the
consumer could directly share his location with his friends and give them his tips.
By promoting implicitly the hotel the consumer could collect points on his account to
get a free drink or dinner or any particular attention that the customers always like.
This SoLoMo platform can also be a direct and mobile platform of information, if
there is a current event in the city where they are staying it could be mentioned on
the home page for example. This type of service is local and would work through
SoLoMo offers many options to the consumer and we will have a deep look to it
when we will have a look to the case studies in the second part.
2. Why SoLoMo could be risky for the luxury hotel industry?
We know that customers like the quality of the luxury service, but we also know that
the customers like calm and simplicity, they don’t want to be disturbed and they are
looking for certain discretion from the hotel.
By using a SoLoMo strategy in the luxury market we have to be careful not to be too
intrusive during the customer stay. We have to limit the push and encourage the pull.
The SoLoMo must drive the customer to the hotel and not the contrary or the
customer would feel upset by the intrusion of the hotel. It has to be a helpful platform
for the consumer, not an application to promote things.
But if the promotions are implicitly relayed, it might be ok and well received by the
customer. Just one thing, it always has to be an added value for him. The luxury hotel
has to stay human because it is about interaction and connection with people.
Asking physically a service through a concrete demand is important for the customer
and it is a way to write a story and to win the loyalty of the customers for the hotel. It
is one of the most important levels of the customer relationship. According to the
study carried out by Four Seasons hotels “Travellers still value simple in-person
interaction, particularly where it makes things faster, easier and more comfortable.
When asked how they’d prefer to be checked in for business and leisure, most said
they’d like to be greeted either curb side or at the front desk and provided their
room key, rather than simply checking online or at the kiosk.”29.
That means technology will never replace human relationships in the luxury hotel
industry they just have to cohabit in the right way.
3. What would bring SoLoMo to a luxury hotel brand strategy?
Luxury hotel brands often have a strong communication strategy. What could
SoLoMo bring to their strategy?
SoLoMo could be a real added value for the strategy of the luxury hotel brands. It is
a very powerful tool for marketers. First because it can target the customers
wherever they are and at any time. Whereas in traditional media we cannot do it
because we are not sure they are going to be exposed to the message.
It is also a very good way to create a community of loyal customers. As they share
their experience on social media and live an experience through SoLoMo they will
likely book the same hotel brand for their next vacation.
SoLoMo is a good way to stay in touch with the customer after his journey. We can
ask him through a questionnaire for example if he enjoyed his stay, what could have
been improved etc.
There are many tools to measure the success of a SoLoMo strategy even if it is not
always easy: we can estimate how many users booked with the app, how many of
them are using it, how many discussions it has generated on social networks, etc.
SoLoMo is a real innovation and hotel brands have already noticed it.
That is what we are going to see in the second part by analyzing case studies.
PART 2: Has SoLoMo an impact on the luxury hotels’ strategy at the
In this second part, we are going to analyze different case studies about SoLoMo
and the luxury hotel industry. We are going to be helped by interviews of digital and
mobile experts and marketers from the luxury hotel industry.
We are going to study the strategies of the following hotels: Intercontinental, Four
Seasons and W hotel. We are also going to have a look to the successful strategy of
Louis Vuitton with its mobile app Amble.
Our objective is also to analyze if there is really an impact at the local level.
Intercontinental hotels: A strong SoLoMo strategy:
We have decided to have a look to the strategy of Intercontinental because Nicolas
Hauvespre, marketing director of Starwood hotel and resorts in North Europe advised
to have a look at their strategy. They are quite well positioned compared to many of
According to the study of L2 Think Tank, Digital IQ index of hotel 2013,
Intercontinental hotel and resorts is ranked as the second best digital brand31. This is a
very good performance for the English group. So why is their strategy successful?
First of all, what are the different SoLoMo tools they are using?
Intercontinental is offering an iPad application including a real concierge services,
but also a mobile application, which you can use to find and book a hotel. There is
also a kitchen cookbook iPad application where we can find very good tips about
local chefs all around the world and finally few mobile applications locally adapted:
two for the Intercontinental Paris, one for the one in Cannes and one for Montreal.
Let’s study all these different devices:
First thing about the Intercontinental Concierge Insider Guides iPad application is
that it is not available on an Android device and this is a shame because today we
have to know that IOS and Android are sharing the market even with the touchpads.
This application allows the users to live a real experience by being connected to a
virtual local concierge, who is advising him about what to do, where to go in the city
he is staying. This service is available for more than 20 destinations, which is huge and
needs a lot of content. The user can also have an access to an interactive map
where he can get directions to local places thanks to the geo-location. On this app
you can also book a room in the closest Intercontinental hotel with the geo-location
possibility. What is missing to this application is obviously the fact that you cannot
directly share your experience with the app on social media. This is a pity because
Intercontinental misses the opportunity to get free advertising and not the worst type:
to spread word-of-mouth, which works so well32.
The second service that Intercontinental is offering is the Intercontinental Kitchen
Cookbook iPad app. With this app, the user can have an access to the recipes of
many recognized local chefs. It offers the experience for the user to get inspired by
worldwide chefs and to have a luxury dinner at home. With this application the user
can search a recipe by location, classify its favourite recipes, share recipes by email
with friends or directly on the social networks. They can also directly book a room
from this app. It is a very good idea to capitalize on cooking because it is also a
good way for the hotel to promote the good quality of their restaurants all over the
world. What is missing is a little platform where users could plug the pictures of their
meals or little tips. This could create interactions between users and create a
community of loyal users33.
Locally adapted Intercontinental’s applications are a plus service for their consumer.
The hotel’s marketing directors worked on these applications directly from their
country to relay the more pertinent information for the users.
Let’s begin with the application of Intercontinental Montreal. We first have to admit
that this application is very well made. When you open the app we ask you if you
want to login with your Facebook account, if you do not agree you can just skip this
step and enter the app. It is divided into three tabs: the first one “My hotel” where
you can directly join the reception, or for housekeeping, order a meal with the room
service, and a valet. The second one “My city” provides an access to a selection of
restaurants, shops, nightclubs, etc. When you tap on a restaurant you could find a
picture and a description of the place. Then there is a click-to-call, an access to
Google maps, and the address. There is also the “Add to my itinerary” tab. Actually
this app allows you to create your own itinerary to visit the best spots in the city. This is
such a good idea. The third tab “My journey” allows the user to book the hotel, to
check his bill and also to have a direct access to the hotel social networks
(Facebook, Foursquare, TripAdvisor, and Twitter) in order to post a comment or
message or to get information directly through the social media page or account34.
Here is the opinion of Melissa Gonzalo, director of marketing in charge of the new
networks at the Intercontinental Montreal (Interview by Frederic Gonzalo specialist in
“The mobile app developed for Intercontinental Montreal allows the customers to
have a tailor-made service access. We are trying to mix different contents, which are
varying depending on the customers. On Facebook we are talking about Montreal
current events, things that can affect local inhabitants and potential visitors, recipes
or pictures that are evoking the Intercontinental experience, promotions, or special
events in-hotel. I try to use Pinterest as a driver to our corporate signature “Do you
live an Intercontinental life”. Our different boards are representing the aspects of
Intercontinental life: luxury goods, arts, travels, and pictures of celebrities that are
staying at the hotel.”
To conclude with the Intercontinental Montreal case, we can say that it is one of the
best SoLoMo strategies for the luxury hotel industry.
We are now going to have a quick look to the mobile app of the Parisian
Intercontinental hotel. The first one “Paris le grand” is an application where you can
visit the most beautiful and historical quarters of Paris thanks to the geo-location. A
voice is talking to the user; it is a real audio guide. For some customers it is not a
bad idea and it is free. The app also includes the story of the hotel, a map that drives
you back to the hotel and all the information about the hotel36.
The second one for the Intercontinental Avenue Marceau is more modern than the
previous one, you can discover the hotel through pictures and video, and there is a
direct access to Facebook and Twitter. The chef concierge Olivier Cambournac
gives advice about shopping, museums, nightclubs, etc. You can get directions
through the app and click-to-call. This application is really simple and intuitive; and it
gathers all the SoLoMo process, which is a real added value for the customer37.
To conclude this part about Intercontinental hotels, we can say that they implement
two different strategies. The first one is the glocal aspect of SoLoMo and the second
is the local one. Today they have worked a lot on the glocal aspect, and the
applications are wonderfully built. Now they have to focus on the local aspect of
SoLoMo because for the customer it is even more useful. They have to get inspired by
what the Intercontinental Montreal local strategy to improve the customer’s
SoLoMo strategy of the W hotel – Strong and targeted
W hotel is a global brand, which is part of the famous American luxury hotel group
Starwood. According to the study of L2 Think Tank, Digital IQ index of hotel 2013, W
hotel is ranked as the first best brand for its digital strategy38. The marketers worked a
lot on this brand to make it the first digital hotel brand in the world. What is the
concept of the W hotel? As Natan Schauder, marketing director of Starwood France
said during an interview39: “W is the most dynamic brand of Starwood, which
capitalizes on new tendencies and particularly on fashion, music and design.”
Indeed that is what we are going to see, this brand has a strong positioning and it is
targeting a specific audience: we will call them the wealthy Untethered consumer.
What does it mean? It is a wealthy consumer who travels a lot and attaches an
importance to new technologies and medias.
The brand has two different kinds of strategies: a locally adapted strategy and a
global strategy. We are going to analyze their two strategies, which are integrating
SoLoMo. According to Natan Schauder, the strategy of the W hotels has been more
axed on the social point of SoLoMo “We’ve been more social than local and mobile.
We’re not totally SoLoMo yet but we are working on it”.
Let’s have a look to the global SoLoMo strategy of W.
The question is: how to communicate globally for a brand that owns more than 50
hotels in more than 40 countries in the world?
First they have a mobile website available in 8 languages including French, English,
Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese. On this mobile website, you can check which are
the different hotels and are their offers; you can check the availabilities and book
directly from this platform (you can geo-locate yourself to find the closest hotel), you
can also book in a W hotel according to the guest rate of the hotel on TripAdvisor. If
the rate is too low you can choose another one, which has a better rate. There is also
a direct access to the following social networks’ pages of the brand: Facebook,
Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Finally you can also have an access to SPG, the loyalty
program of Starwood.
The mobile website is really simple and easy to use, it is intuitive and the design totally
respects the W codes (classy, black and pink). It is SoLoMo and works very well.
As Mr. Hauvespre told us, we cannot copy and paste a website to build an
application: “It is totally absurd to copy and paste a website to launch an app. Of
course today applications are quite cheap and affordable. Everybody wants to
have one. An application has to be unique and useful to the user. The number of
downloads is not important to measure, what is important to measure is how many
people use the application frequently. 500 000 person in the world are involved in
the loyalty program of Starwood, SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest). This is a real
success; we have to increase the demand on the other apps of the group.”40
We are going to have a look to the global mobile application of W hotel. It is
available on IOS and Android. Nicolas Hauvespre explains: “The W application had a
big success since its launch because it is really unique. We axed the application
around music because it is one of the pillars and value of the hotel”. The mobile
application is only available in English, we can accept this because it is a global
language, but it might be a good idea to translate it like it has been done for the
mobile website. The home page of the application reveals the different tabs of the
application; it gives an overview of what the user can do with this application. The
first one is “Music”. You can listen to the different W music compilations. It’s a real
added value for the customer; he can experience the music atmosphere of W hotels
through his smartphone. The second one is an m-shop offering various W branded
products. This tab offers a really nice shopping experience without having to leave
the app. It also corresponds to the involvement of the brand in fashion. The third tab,
“Find and book” suggests to geo-locate yourself and to see which W hotel is the
nearest to your position. It also indicates how far it is from your position (for example
today I am at Metro Villiers in Paris, W Opera is at 3km from me). You can also check
the weather and get the directions through Google Maps. The last tab is “Special
offers”. It indicates what are the good deals of the moment and if there are some
offers and discounts you can find it here41.
There is something a bit disappointing in this application. You cannot share anything
on social media directly from the application. This is a shame because I am sure
that we could add a link to different social networks like Facebook or Twitter to let
the user communicate spontaneously on his account. For example he could post
the track he is listening: “Listening to @Whotel track list living room – Gorgeous!”;
post about a product he bought: “Just bought nice glasses on the @Whotel app
#Happiness”; or tell about their reservation: “Just booked my room @Whotel New
York Downtown – Can’t wait!!”. People like to share their experience with their
friends on the social networks. All the more it is free advertising for the brand.
Marketers shouldn’t forget it.
Let’s now see what solutions the brand is using to communicate more locally.
We can notice that at the moment there is no SoLoMo in the local strategy of W
hotels. They are capitalizing on their social media strategy. As Natan Schauder says
“We are working a lot on the social networks. Each W hotel has its own Facebook
page. We are creating original contents that correspond to the location of the
hotel. We are present on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. But we have to
work on other platforms that are also working well like Foursquare, Pinterest and
even Instagram. There are still some channels to experiment.42”
The community managers in all the countries are working a lot on the problematic
of content creation. And we can say that they are dealing well with it: at least one
post per day on Facebook, those post are always including the likers to make them
interact with the brand. It’s the same process on Twitter. Video creation, which is
one of the most appreciated content online, is taking an important part of their
We would say that the things to change would be to communicate more on
current events that are happening in a specific city to increase the desire to travel
in this city, because at the moment, community managers are only communicating
on events that are happening in the hotel.
To conclude with the W hotel case, we think that what would be the best and what
would be well adapted to the new needs of the consumers would be to mix the
global digital strategy and the local digital strategy, and maybe add a little more
brand experience and service, because the wealthy Untethered consumer likes
everything that is easy and needs an adapted service.
Let’s now have a look to the next case study.
Four Seasons – Locally adapted like their hotels:
Nicolas Hauvespre advised to take a look at the digital strategy of Four Seasons
“They made a great job when they changed their website. They worked a lot on
the rewriting and on the merchandising, which gives a very good result. They
wanted an immersive experience and they’ve done it well.”43
Four Seasons is a worldwide group of hotels based in Canada. They own the most
prestigious hotels all over the world like the George V palace in Paris. All their hotels
are designed to be perfectly locally adapted. Each city in the world has its
specificities and the Four Seasons hotels include this particularity to their
architecture or design. As they wanted to stay coherent they adapted their “local
attitude” to their digital strategy. So what are their SoLoMo tools to communicate?
Like W hotels, Four Seasons is more insistent on So than on LoMo. In 2012 they have
updated their website and they are capitalizing on this platform to take advantage
from the social networks, which are directly linked to the website. Unfortunately they
did not do the same thing with the mobile platforms. First of all, Four Seasons does
not have a global mobile application and this is risky. Some Four Seasons hotels
already have their own locally adapted dedicated application. These applications
do not reflect the brand new image, identity and design that Four Seasons has built
through its new website. Thus, those applications are not qualitative enough. They
have a global application for touchpad’s. But now that the website has been
optimized it does not look the same and this is incoherent. They really have to
update it. But apart from those facts they are giving a particular attention to mobile
devices. In the hotel they are lending some touchpads to their customer to make
them live a digital experience in-hotel44. But is it enough? I am not totally convinced
Fours Seasons also developed a mobile website which was not updated either. You
can only check the availabilities to book a room, that’s it. You will not find on the
mobile platform the same experience available online, which is quite disturbing.
They have to rework this because it is not the image that Four Seasons wants to
show to their potential or actual customers.
But we have chosen to take a look at its digital strategy because Four
Seasons has an excellent digital planning on the social networks.
First, take a look at the following graph “Four Seasons Digital Media Universe”45. We
can say that it is huge. Four Seasons is using many different social media platforms
that are redirecting to the website, which is also thought to redirect the visitors on
the social media.
There is a real work on the local aspects: each hotel has its own platforms adapted
to their target. For example Four Seasons is the only international luxury hotel to
have a Weibo platform. As a reminder, Weibo is the most famous Chinese social
network to target Chinese customers.
Whereas Four Seasons is the only market player to use this Chinese social network,
all its competitors have their Facebook page and Twitter account. They are present
on location-based applications like Foursquare, which allows creating a challenge
between the customers (i.e.: who is going to be the Mayor of this place?). They can
receive Spa or dining credits thanks to this type of contest. One social platform is
also very important because of the video content: YouTube. Four Seasons counts
more than 500 videos, almost 1,500 followers and more than 1 million views on this
platform46. This is amazing for a hotel brand.
The social network strategy of Four Seasons is huge and very well made. There is a
tiny problem in their strategy: the brand focused a lot on the website rework, which
is great for the present. But it forgot to think of the future, and as the world is getting
mobile they should focus more on this device. If they do not resolve this issue quite
quickly, they could lose their legitimacy because we have to remember that the
luxury hotel industry is a very competitive world.
“Amble”: the SoLoMo success of Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton has been one of the first fashion luxury brands to launch a SoLoMo
mobile application. Charlotte Politi, digital project manager at Heaven agency,
advised to take a look at this case “Louis Vuitton has launch a collaborative city
guide mobile app, which had a lot of success. You should try it, you will see how
great it is!”.47
And that is what I did. Let’s get immerged in Louis Vuitton’s first mobile experience.
Louis Vuitton has launched Amble in the beginning of year 2011. What is it exactly?
An Amble is an itinerary that you can create yourself by following some different
spots in the city. It is like a travel assistance application that allows documenting
your entire journey with different kinds of features: text, photo, video and geo-
location. You can record your own Amble, be a trendsetter or get inspired by
someone else’s Amble and be a follower.48
It is a great concept; it is like a social network for the Louis Vuitton Amble users.
Besides, to join the community you simply have to login with your Facebook
account or with your email address. Then, the amble experience can get started.
Let’s see what we can do with this application.
First of all, this app is available anywhere in the world but focuses on the cities
where Louis Vuitton has its city guides: Barcelona, Beirut, Berlin, London, Los Angeles,
Madrid, Milan, Hong Kong, New York, Paris, Rome and Tokyo. Of course, these are
fashion cities. We cannot forget that Louis Vuitton is a fashion brand. You need an
Internet network (Wi-fi, 3G, 4G) to use the app, and the application is only available
for iPhones and iPads. For a better experience, Louis Vuitton advises to use iPhone49.
Currently, Amble is only available in English. We would advise Louis Vuitton to make
at least one translation in Chinese because we all know that Chinese people are
huge fans of the brand and we are sure that they would appreciate the Amble
Let’s now see how the application works and what its multiple functionalities are.
When you connect the Amble app you land on the home page, where you find
the inspiration of the month, a celebrity’s Amble. In last April, Werner Schreyer (a
fashion model) updated his Amble for Vienna. The first tab to visit is “Inspirations”.
On this tab you can find all of the celebrities’ ambles. For instance, the itineraries of
Sofia Coppola in Paris, Natalia Vodianova (Fashion Model) in Moscow, or Midnight
Juggernauts (Electronic music band) in Sydney, are available in this tab. These
celebrities are Louis Vuitton’s and Amble’s ambassadors at the same time. If you
click on a spot they have plugged you can see their comments about the place
and the pictures and videos they have taken. This creates a real exclusive content
for the app. All the more we know that people love to follow celebrities’ tips (we
notice this on Twitter) and they also aspire to be celebrities too. For Louis Vuitton it is
a good way to advertise their store and to drive customers to the stores because all
the Louis Vuitton ambassadors are including Louis Vuitton stores in each city. If you
don’t want to follow celebrities Amble you can also follow the tips of anonyms,
which are quite great too. When you are following an Amble, you can use a
traditional app, but you also have an access to the augmented reality experience
and to let yourself guide by the application. Sometimes we don’t see the added
value of augmented reality, but for a city guide I find it very useful it is an interesting
The second tab “City Guide”, is the one where you can buy the Louis Vuitton city
guides to improve the Amble experience. Of course it is a paying service, but it is
quite bright from the brand to include a paying content in a free platform. The
prices are between 8€ and 15€, which is quite cheap for a luxury brand city guide. It
is a new way to experience the Louis Vuitton city guides because it is a gap from
reality to virtual thanks to augmented reality. It strengthens the brand experience.
The third tab, “Around Me” allows geo-locate yourself and looking around you what
are all the spots that have been plugged by the Amblers. Thanks to the augmented
reality you can get guided through the different spots.
The fourth tab, “My Ambles” allows recording your own itinerary and writing your
own comments and illustrating them with pictures, videos, or sounds. When
recording your first Amble, you are officially a member of the Amble community:
The brand has to verify the contents posted by Amblers, as those need to be
worthy. They obviously do not care enough about this step, because some Ambler’s
profiles point out some cheap tips, cheap places such as fast foods.
You can also publish your itinerary on Facebook, Twitter or send it to a friend by
email. This is the social level of the application. I have experienced Amble, and it is
a very nice experience indeed. You can plug your favourite spots and send them to
friends from anywhere in the world. The concept of sharing Ambles with friends is so
nice and very interesting. Amble is a mobile platform where you can plug forever
the places you enjoyed during your holidays. You will never forget the places you
have visited. That is an amazing innovation50.
Louis Vuitton took the advantage to use Amble beyond a simple travel experience.
Let’s have a look to this case study, Amble for the Louis Vuitton’s fashion show
during Paris Fashion week.
What was the idea? Use Amble to promote Louis Vuitton’s fashion show during Paris
fashion week event and go beyond the show to live an immersive experience.
Make the community feel unique and involved during this important event.
How did they build the experience? Louis Vuitton selected six influencers (including
Emily Weiss, a famous fashion blogger) and asked them to document the fashion
week through the application. The influencers had to record their Amble during the
event. This was a brilliant idea because this is creating free content for the brand.
Louis Vuitton created a special dedicated website for this event and the Louis
Vuitton’s fashion show was broadcasted in live on the website and on Louis
Vuitton’s official Facebook fan page. A livetweet was also broadcasted, which
transmitted all the comments of the influencers during and after the show.
Why after the show? Because the influencers went backstage to interview
celebrities, ask them how they enjoyed the show, etc. The interviews were also
broadcasted in live on the two platforms.
What were the results of the event? Without investing money in any traditional
media, Louis Vuitton managed to recruit more than 800 000 fans on the Facebook
page of the brand, and to place the Amble app in the top 5 travel applications on
Apple Store. The operation also allowed the brand to target a new audience,
which is usually away from the fashion stage. It was a good way to democratize the
brand to a fashion lover audience.51
To conclude with the Amble strategy, we can say that it is a very bright idea from
Louis Vuitton. We know that it is also important for them to democratize the brand
because they have to make people dream with their products but they also have
to conserve proximity with their potential customers and this app is a very good
compromise between these two pillars. The SoLoMo is perfectly adapted, easy to
use and brings a real added value to the customer. Is Amble the travel diary of the
In this second part, we have noticed that Luxury hotel brands are trying to build
SoLoMo strategies. But it is not an easy task and none of them are perfect, there is
always something missing. It is not too late to improve the SoLoMo strategies of
luxury hotel brands. They just have to find an interesting concept and develop it
whilst complying with their brand value. We think that Amble is a very good
example of what hotel brands have to do. Create an interactive experience and
include emotions and a brand experience. Of course it needs to be reworked
because it is really adapted to the fashion world, but we cannot deny that the
luxury codes were perfectly respected by Louis Vuitton. The question we asked
ourselves for this master thesis was: what is the impact of the SoLoMo on the
strategies of the luxury hotel groups for the local markets? With the study we carried
out through this second part, we can say that today luxury hotel brands are
including SoLoMo in their strategy, but not at the local level. Some hotels are
beginning to start adapting SoLoMo at the local level to improve the experience of
travellers in the city, or in the hotel they are staying in. And we saw how interesting is
what has been made to implement luxury hotel strategies like Intercontinental
Montreal did at the local level. But for hotel brands it is difficult to build a locally
adapted SoLoMo strategy. With social networks luxury hotel brands have managed
to increase the brand experience for their customers, before, during and after their
journey in the hotel. Now luxury hotel brands have to do the same thing with
In the following part you will find the concept we have built to improve the SoLoMo
strategy for the luxury hotel brands at the local level.
PART 3: An innovative idea for the luxury hotel industry: when
SoLoMo meets PASSBOOK.
For this third and final part of my master thesis, I have decided to recommend a
new type of strategy for luxury hotel brands: something that has never been seen
before in this industry. When SoLoMo meets Passbook, an innovative solution for the
luxury hotel industry, a locally adapted SoLoMo strategy, to deliver the customers a
new brand experience. We will then illustrate our idea with a concrete case.
A project adaptable to the luxury hotel industry
What is PASSBOOK?
Passbook is a particular app from the new system of Apple IOS 6 (a similar app is
going to be developed soon for Android [the Pass wallet] and for Blackberry). It is a
new tool and a new issue for the m-commerce. Passbook virtualizes your entire
wallet: coupons, flight tickets, loyalty cards etc. How to add something to your
Passbook? You can receive something on your Passbook from a mobile app, from a
proposition in a emailing (for coupons as an example) and many other ways. To use
the content of the Passbook we just need to scan the 2D code on the screen. That
implies that the stores or companies need to be equipped with scanners. Passbook
is also a new step toward geo-located marketing because of its geo-fencing
technology: that means that if you are in a specific location, you can receive a
special promotion on your Passbook for a store in the area you are located.
Concerning tourism for instance, being near an airport could imply that Passbook is
going to automatically send you a notification that would explain your plane ticket
has been well added to your Passbook. Passbook is a real innovation and a
revolution. The mobile consumer does not have the “Passbook reflex” yet. But there
is no doubt about it: Passbook is part of our future way of mobile consumption. So
what are the plus and the mines of Passbook for the luxury hotel industry? How are
we going to create the Passbook reflex in this sector? How to build a SoLoMo
strategy locally adapted to luxury hotels including the use of Passbook? These are
the questions we are going to answer during this explanation.
Bring a new type of customer service to wealthy consumers with the use of
The idea: A mobile concierge service that delivers through a mobile app, tips
adapted to the localization of the hotel (events, restaurants, museums, etc.). The
customer can directly book an event with his smart phone or touchpad, a
restaurant, a museum ticket and receive directly a pass on his phone on the app
Passbook. This will allow him to avoid an enormous queue in the most popular
museum of the city, to miss a reservation in the best restaurant of the city, or to miss
the concert of a famous artist because he did not know about his presence during
The application will also allow him to be guided from his position to the place of the
reservation he made thanks to the geo-location process.
There will also be a tab with the agenda of the user with all the events of his stay.
On this agenda he will have the possibility to add content like text, photo, sound or
video and share directly his travel with his friends on the social networks.
The user could also receive geo-located push notifications encouraging him to visit
what is happening nearby.
The hotels are advancing money to their customer and the customers are paying
back at the end of their stay.
Why would it be a good thing for luxury customers?
When people are travelling, for business or leisure, they like to get advice from local
people. The concierge usually represents the person you are going to see to get
those advices. Making the concierge go virtual would make things easier for the
customer; the concierge becomes mobile and can help him wherever he is. What is
also interesting is the brand experience customers will live. “Thanks to the hotel I was
staying I discovered this or that place and it was gorgeous”, take a picture and post
it on the social network with an application. It is a real opportunity for the traveller to
optimize his travel and to enjoy all the possibilities offered to him in the city he is
staying in. Of course the content created will be for luxury customers and adapted
to what they need and usually consume. The content creator will have to adapt his
content to the customers. We also have to note that to have an access to
Passbook you do not need any access to Internet.
How to adapt the content to each hotel?
This won’t be the easy step of the project. Indeed this is going to be an investment
for the luxury hotel brands because they will have to hire at least one person per
city to create content for the app and the social networks to offer the customers
the newest events, and places to go. It has to be a professional community
manager, with a strong formation.
A global application locally adapted?
Of course it will be easier and less messy to build an application for one luxury hotel
brand. That is to say a worldwide application that would become local thanks to
the geo-location process. When the user opens the application, he has to give
access to his location data and to login with a loyalty account or reservation
number to enter the app and to have an access to the local concierge advices
and application configuration. It is not an easy process of application but it is
possible thanks to the geo-location. That would be the best solution for a brand to
give an exclusive and local content to the consumer through a global application
that would regroup all the hotels.
What would be the positive aspects for the luxury hotels?
With the mobile data collection of their customers through this application, they will
have a direct access to their consumption habits and for the next trip they could
offer them something that would perfectly fit their expectations.
This type of offer is made to increase the customers’ loyalty, and their affection to
the brand. People like to have a personal service and this new concierge offer
linked to Passbook would make their trip easier.
If the app users are sharing their experience on the social media this will create a
very good online word-of-mouth and we know that today people are taking into
account their family’s and friends’ advices to organize their trips.
What would be the negative aspects for luxury hotels?
Sometimes people prefer having a human interaction instead of a virtual
reservation from a mobile device or from a computer. This is a negative point that
we could turn into a positive aspect: first of all, this application would not affect the
concierge’s jobs; it will also be an added value for them. If people want to call the
concierge service to have an idea of what to do, the concierge can ask the
customer if he wants a ticket and send it through the app on one’s Passbook.
The other negative aspect might be the fact that all the companies are not
equipped with scanners to scan the vouchers sent to Passbook yet. The solution
might be to find some partners that are selling bulk-buying tickets and which ensure
that there is a possibility to scan the voucher to have an access to the event. Or we
can wait during a few years because one thing is sure; Passbook is going to
become one of the most used and trendy applications.
To conclude, we noticed that all the luxury hotel brands could be interested in this
project, but to understand it better, we are going to illustrate it with the example of
the W hotel.
Illustration of our idea with the W hotel brand:
We thought that it would have been easier to illustrate our concept and idea with a
concrete example to make you understand it better.
So, we have decided to build a strong and locally adapted strategy for the W
hotels, because that is what is really missing to the brand. We have already seen in
the second part the study of the W hotel brand, what are its values, and its SoLoMo
strategy. We know that today, it is the best digital luxury hotel brand in the world.
But as the other hotel brands are going to improve their digital strategy too, W must
not lower its guard yet. There are again many things to do and to improve. And that
is what we are going to do with our strategy of optimization with Passbook.
“The W hotel’s new application: W Mobtimizer”
We are going to build a totally new and innovative project for the W brand.
W hotel has a strong positioning toward culture and particularly toward music,
design and fashion. W hotels are located in the hearts of the most cultural cities all
over the world. To start the project we are going to select 13 big cities where we
will develop the project. If the project works well we will extend it to the 53 cities
where W hotels are located. The cities that have been selected are Los Angeles,
New York, Montreal, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei, Seoul, London, Paris, Barcelona,
Istanbul and St Petersburg.
Through this application, the guests who are staying at the hotel are going to have
the possibility to book cultural events and luxury cabs directly from their app. They
will have the possibility to consult what are the events that are going to happen in
the city they are staying in (concert, exhibitions, parties, fairs, sport…) thanks to the
We are going to draw exclusive partnerships with two brands:
Live Nations, a worldwide group of cultural ticket sale
Über, a worldwide group of luxury cabs
The application will be available on IOS & Android. It will also be available on iPads
and Android touchpads.
What would these partnerships bring to the customer?
They would get special offers for the Live Nations tickets and a special price on the
luxury cabs offer (for example 10€ of credit for any drive). When customers are
booking their tickets and/or cab on the application they will directly receive their
tickets on Passbook.
What does it bring to the customer?
It will make his trip much easier. He would not miss any event he would have liked to
attend. He would know everything about what is happening in the city he is staying
in thanks to the concierge advices. He would not have to pull out his credit card
anymore. He would pay for everything at the end of his journey. One thing is very
important to add to: when you already have your ticket, you do not queue
anymore, and you optimize your travel. This explains the name of the application: W
Mobtimizer. Optimize your travel in the W hotel with your mobile device. The
customer would also collect points on the loyalty program SPG each time he makes
What other services with the application?
It will be a real brand experience because on the app there will be a tab “My
dream Agenda” that is going to be updated each time the app user will book an
activity. The user will have the possibility to illustrate it with text, pictures, video or
sound. And finally he will have the possibility to post the content of his holiday’s
agenda on social networks. And if the customer agrees, the content of his agenda
would be added to a dedicated website. The customer becomes a member of the
With geo-location the user can get the itinerary to be driven to his destination with
the augmented reality process. If it is too far from his location, the application will
ask him if he needs a Über cab with the price estimation.
If he unlocks W Mobtimizer’s push notifications and to location data, he would
receive push notifications depending on his location to inform him that he is close to
an exhibition promoted by the app concierge. He will have access to a click-to-call
the concierge to have the ticket on the Passbook or to order it directly from the
The objectives of this innovative concept:
corresponds exactly to the W values
Increasing the W community around storytelling: tell the story of you trip and
illustrate it through an agenda. Create new interactions between customers.
Creating a new service of concierge that would help the customers outside
the hotel. As it is mobile, the concierge service follows you anywhere.
Increasing the power of SoLoMo at the local level.
How to promote the application?
We know that there is no point to launch an application if you don’t promote it well.
Our strategy is going to be turned toward the actual customers and the potential
customers. We are going to promote the launch of the application through
An event in each hotel selected with ambassadors who are going to
inaugurate it by plugging their “Dream Agenda” online
A PR strategy locally adapted to promote the launch of the application
through a launch party
Web banners promoting the launch of the application on the W website
A social network contest to win a free night at the hotel to test the
To go further:
Of course we are going to go further this concept with an added value for this
Passbook project. I give you an appointment on June 13th, 2013 to discover it during
the master thesis presentation.
Through this work about SoLoMo and the luxury hotel industry, we have learned step
by step that this sector still has many territories to explore in the digital era. Of course
it is not too late for these companies. Some are more advanced than others, but
today they are practically at the same level.
First we have noticed that the luxury hotel industry is a highly competitive market
with an increasing demand of the customers. They are asking for more modernity
and more mobility with the same quality of services. These new customers are
communicating online with their friends on the social media and are sensitive to
word-of-mouth: they like their friends’ advices. These customers are also mobile and
want to be aware of everything at any time on their mobile devices.
Besides, there is a new tendency implying that luxury hotel marketers have to
explore absolutely SoLoMo, as an association of social, local and mobile strategies.
Indeed this association seems to be perfect to suggest a totally new type of service
to the wealthy consumers. And this is what luxury hotel brands are trying to do
through mobile applications including concierge services, itinerary advices and
many other services through a real brand experience. But today almost all the
luxury hotel brands are having this type of application. The only problem is that they
are global applications and they are practically not locally adapted. And that is
what brands should capitalize on. Giving some advices and helping their customers
in their trips through local tips, which are linked to the luxury experience. This is what
they are looking for. But how to improve the customer’s experience with a SoLoMo
application locally adapted? We needed an added value to make the customer
use it and become loyal to the brand. So we had the Passbook idea: no more
waiting line, no more problems to look for an interesting exhibition or a good
restaurant. The concierge app linked to Passbook is innovative and simple; it allows
the customer to plan his journey and to know what he is going to do in the city he is
staying in. All his tickets will be added to Passbook and he will have the possibility to
pay for all the activities he did at the checkout. With the possibility to share advices
and tips on the social media, it makes the user of this app becoming an actor,
trendsetter and a good adviser to his relations.
This project might be a little futurist at the moment, because indeed too few people
are using Passbook yet. But with the predictions of many mobile experts we
certainly know that it is just about to become a huge tendency in the following
years, and luxury hotel brands have to be aware of it.
This entire project would have been impossible to carry on without the precious help
of some people, who did it with pleasure, motivation and passion for the
The first person I would like to thank is Mrs. Albrycht, who helped me to find my
problematic, who introduced me to Charlotte Polliti (in person) and to Chuck Martin
(‘s book!), who were both very helpful.
I would also like to specially thank Mrs. Marie Cazaux, my master thesis director for
the precious time she spent to help me, for the person she introduced me to, and
for her motivation in my project. At the same time I want to thank my friend,
Benedicte Fages, who introduced Marie to me.
I want to thank Natan Schauder and Nicolas Hauvespre, both marketing director of
Starwood Hotel & Resorts for the time they gave me to answer all my questions.
They helped me to understand better the issues the luxury hotel industry is facing.
I would like to thank Charlotte Polliti, who advised me to take a look at Passbook.
Without her the idea to add this principle to my strategy would have been more
difficult. This was a nice and interesting chat moment.
I also want to thank Raphael Journé, who answered to the questions I had to ask
about mobile marketing and Passbook’s operating system. This was very helpful for
the elaboration of this project.
I would also like to thank the international class, for all the exchanges we had on
our Facebook page during this period of work. It was fun and useful.
Finally I wanted to give a special thank to Clémence Roquet Montégon, who took
the time to read my work and helped me to correct my mistakes.
I also want to thank Mediacom who sponsored my work by offering me the print of
this master thesis.
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gone mobile”, Nicolas Brealey Publishing, Boston, 2011, 207 pages
Christine BALAGUE and David FAYON, “Facebook, Twitter et les autres”,
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Amadeus, “The future of the hotel Industry”, 2009, 23 pages
Fours Seasons, “The luxury consumer in the new digital world: then and now”,
2012, 9 pages
L2 Think Tank, “Digital IQ Index: Hotels”, 2013, 13 pages
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GSMA, “The mobile Economy 2013”, 2013, 99 pages
L2 Think Tank, “Intelligence report Mobile” 2013, 10 pages
The center for hospitality research, “Social media and the Hospitality Industry:
Holding the tiger by the tail”, 2010, 16 pages
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Social media & Hotel Industry
“The Future of hotel industry and Social Media”, www.mashable.com
Debbie Miller’s blog, specialist of social media and hospitality industry,
“The impact of social media in the travel and hospitality industry”, 26/06/2012,
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THE FUTURE OF THE HOTEL INDUSTRY // PERSPECTIVES
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