Keynote: Vegas Strip Hotel Marketing Departments

November 11, 2009
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

pubconGoood morning, Vegas! We’re back. We’re live. We’re bringing you the most awesome Pubcon coverage around.  You can’t see it, but I’m doing my rock star dance. Actually, I’m not. Because I haven’t recognized ANY of the songs they’re blasting in the keynote area all morning.   Other than Billy Joel’s New York State of Mind, of course. Which is probably ironic or something.

Anyway, up first today is a keynote featuring the marketing execs of several of the major Las Vegas hotels.  Not quite sure what to expect, but here we go!  Speaking are Brad Goldberg, Brandie Feuer, Peter Arceo, Michael Perhaes, and Bryan Allison. Brandie’s in a skirt and feeling a bit uncomfortable seated up on stage.  I was wearing a skirt yesterday so I feel her pain.  Knees together, lady!

Lou: Can you share where your properties started with social media and where they’ve come?

Peter:  He was tweeting and asks Lou to repeat the question. Hee! Classic.  Peter runs the casino marketing department and was asked to launch a social media program. He had to get in touch with what that meant. He knew a lot about the different sites. He attended a conference in Dallas and went to 0 to 100 in a matter of days.  The conference taught him to listen to his customer (I love that people need to learn that at conferences). They listened for two months before they engaged (okay, that’s actually pretty cool).

Brad:  They were early adopters.  They wanted to introduce a personality, a face and a voice to their property. It was a way of trying to develop a different kind of relationship with potential consumers. They didn’t know what the results would be but they knew they had to be there. It was a leap of faith.  They saw other companies that were having success with it so they decided to really get engaged with it. It’s proven to be a tremendous success for the property.

Bryan: It’s been an organic thing for them. A lot of their employees are very interested in social media.  They use it for customer service, promotional stuff, and to show their expertise on the city. They interact with people through Facebook and Twitter to answer questions. They’ve opened it up to the entire company. Anyone who has an interest can get involved.

Brandie:  They jumped right in. They have 100 percent support from management. It was another way for them to engage with their guests and their customers.

Michael: They were late to the game. They got their Facebook page up a year ago and Twitter right after that.  They realized the effectiveness of their email marketing has diminished. What’s stepping in to fill that communication void is mostly Facebook, with some Twitter. [Interesting…]  They’re doing social media to talk to people, advertise events, and offer room specials.  He thinks Facebook will be a better consumer device than email marketing in a year.

What do you expect from social media?

Michael: They’ve really enjoyed Twitter. They do Twitter Thursdays. They’re limited right now because they don’t have that many followers.  They’re at a disadvantage to the Wynn who’s a Twitter Suggested User.  [Wow. And just like that Michael turns into Robert Scoble.]

Bryan: He thinks email is still really effective, you just have to watch how you’re doing it. Segmentation is key. They have a wider base of people they’re talking to. They’ve done some commercial stuff with Twitter and Facebook but they also try to just do fun things. He’s surprised with how willing people are to interact with him.  And that’s part of it. If you’re constantly barraging them with advertising, they’re not going to respond to that.  They want to see something funny or that they can interact with.  They’ve played with Facebook advertising and they’re constantly pushing the barriers of what FB will allow them to do.

Brandie: They use social media as a direct response channel.  They use it to provide value – they’ll give out Google Wave invites.  It provides value to the community. They’ll also give out last minute concert tickets.  They also use it to promote events and smaller things on property that you may not put out in a press release.

Brad: They like the immediacy. It ties in well with their mobile marketing initiatives. They don’t have a cell phone number for everyone interested in Luxor. But Twitter lets them communicate with people who are in town. These days, people are staying connected to Twitter and Facebook. It gives them a way to communicate with people while they’re in market.  They’ve expanded their social media presence beyond just one individual.

Peter: They try to get customers to sample their property. They’re not in a lot of people’s faces. They have small marketing budgets. So they try and make it social. They have a Toys for Tweets program starting today. They want to see how they can help other employees to get involved in social media. They’re going to take the Zappos approach to social media. They’re not going to coach employees. They’re going to train them, but them let them be themselves.

Bryan: The best part of social media is that if the employee does something bad, we have a written record of it.  [Hee, nice.]

Brandie:  They’re empowering employees to utilize the medium. They below that all employees should be empowered.

How are you protecting yourself from employees action in social media? Have you had any issues that you’ve had to manage?

Bryan: Their policy is, “you’re an adult, act like an adult. If you have a question, ask.” [Yikes. Really? Since when have “adults” been trusted to act that way. In public.  Dangerous.]  A lot of people are already into this stuff.  Use that resource.

Michael:  They read all the posts that customers are putting up and try to respond as best they can. Facebook has become really effective in getting really great feedback from customers.   They haven’t had any bad experiences, but they do pay attention.

Where is the industry going? What’s next?

Michael:  They’re trying to do their best to have fun with Twitter. They’re trying to figure out their voice. They launched a confessions campaign on Twitter called Tweet Your Sins. It allows you to enter your sin and it immediately posts to Twitter and on the site. You can find all the sins on Twitter (there’s an understatement…) and on their landing page.

Brandie: They launched the Phanatic Pass where people can stay 10 nights at Fame for %599. The idea was completely crowd sourced.

Peter: They’re working to bring the social aspect of social media to the Las Vegas Hilton. They’re trying to get people to meet one another.  It’s a lot of fun to interact with people in real life, not just on the screen. They’ve done several tweetups on the property. They did one in Hawaii. It taught them that people actually want to meet each other.

Brad:  He doesn’t think anyone knows what the next Twitter or Facebook is gong to be. He doesn’t know if it matters, either. Social media needs to stay social. As long as you’re keeping it social, it’ll maintain its relevance. The Twitter of today could be the MySpace of tomorrow.

Super interesting keynote.  You have to notice that no one talked about how to track, measure or see an ROI on social media.  Are they really just focused on engaging and being interesting…or are they just not sure how to measure it? Something to ponder.  Time to run.

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