This summer, one of Ibiza’s highest-profile beachfront resorts began encouraging its Facebook-loving customers to brag about their experiences – and contribute to the property’s online reputation – with just the tap of a finger.
“We’re the first place in the world where you can log into your Facebook account using your fingerprint,” says Guillermo Rodriguez, social media director of Palladium Hotel Group, owner of the Ushuaia Ibiza Beach Hotel.
The move was designed to make bragging about being at Ushuaia not only convenient, but also fun and experiential.
Visitors have plenty to show off about. Ushuaia regularly hosts top DJs and artists such as David Guetta and Avicii and earlier this summer, movie star Leonardo di Caprio made headlines when he visited.
Expect Palladium Hotel Group’s social sharing experiment to be closely watched by hotel leaders since it speaks to key industry trends. It comes at a time, for instance, when hotels across the price spectrum are scrambling to find innovative ways to lure Millennials, who tend to disproportionately use social media to talk about their experiences. A growing number of hotels are also figuring out how to increase and monitor social media mentions, recognizing their potential influence on booking decisions.
How new technology plays a role
At the start of this summer season, Ushuaia’s existing Facebook kiosks had been linked to its year-old biometric technology payment system. Until this year, the PayTouch payment system gave customers the option of registering to link their credit cards and fingerprints to eliminate the need to carry a wallet to pay for food, nightclub admission and drinks at the swim-up bar. Now, that same technology can be used at the hotel’s Facebook kiosks.
“We find it’s a good way to make it as easy as possible (for customers) to share their experiences with friends,” he says.
Visitors tend to arrive from other countries and send their notes from Ushuaia to friends and relatives across the globe. “They are telling the world they are here partying with us,” he says.
Millennial-aged customers – many of whom come for Ushuaia’s big-name DJ concerts – make up the highest percentage of users of the biometric interactions, he adds.
Ushuaia has HOW many Facebook likes?
Rodriguez credits the newfangled social media option with helping push Ushuaia’s Facebook page “likes” up to a new record – 284,000.
“It is a hard job to reach that amount,” Rodriguez tells ReviewPro. His six-person team is “continuously monitoring” social media mentions that involve Ushuaia as well as the parent company’s other hotels in Spain, Brazil, Jamaica, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
Facebook is a valuable marketing tool. A study earlier this year by sales and marketing software firm Hubspot shows that 70% of businesses that sell to consumers said they found a customer from a Facebook lead.
New twist: Scripted Facebook update options
It’s worth noting how Ushuaia is curating this futuristic social exchange.
People can’t, for instance, just walk up to one of the 13 kiosks and type in any status update. To maximize promotion, the hotel allows customers take three actions:
- Check into Facebook Places. “They can say, ‘I am at a party; come here with me next year,’” Rodriguez says. The No. 1 favorite message sent says ‘I am here – be jealous.’
- Update Facebook status. They can select from a few scripted messages. One, for instance, will name the Ushuaia party or concert that they’re attending on a given day or night.
- Upload Ushuaia photos. They can take a fresh photo using the kiosk’s built-in camera; they can keep repeat the process until they find a photo that they like. The cameras are positioned so that the photos will feature the property’s most iconic views (the stage, the pool or the beach). Photos get published with an Ushuaia watermark, so there’s no mistaking where they were taken.
What if guests want to Tweet?
Of course, the Facebook kiosks aren’t for everyone – especially at a property that packs in as many as 5,000 people per day between hotel guests and guests who arrive strictly for Ushuaia’s concerts and parties. Also, many music fans won’t part with their mobile device and some rather use Twitter or another social network instead of Facebook.
So, to address their needs, the resort this summer invested in stronger Wi-Fi signals throughout the property. The Wi-Fi’s free and doesn’t require a password – but there is a catch.
Customers can’t use it to check their emails given the property’s large crowds, because it could cause the system to crash, he says. Use is limited to the ability to send messages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and Ushuaia’s mobile app. This has proven wildly popular, Rodriguez says. The property has detected more than 1,900 simultaneous connections during parties.