Jamaica hotel pioneers island’s use of Twitter, boosting sales and exposure

KINGSTON, JAMAICA The Sunday brunch at the 127-key Jamaica Pegasus Hotel has long been a popular event for Kingston businesspeople to meet and mingle. But the hotel was having difficulty connecting with the younger professionals who it knows will be crucial to its long-term survival.

Since the hotel began using Twitter, its profile with that younger set has jumped, evidenced by a recent “tweetup”—believed to be Jamaica’s first—that was attended by more than 100 guests, many of them first-time visitors. “We have always known that we have a strong brand; the aim is not to change our brand image but to introduce our brand to this younger market segment,” says Prudence Simpson, director of sales and marketing. “We have learnt that the young professionals can appreciate our product, but they prefer this direct method of communication. They would not necessarily respond to a newspaper or radio advertisement to come to Sunday brunch, but if you give them a taste of Sunday brunch they spread the word via Twitter readily.”

Staffed by a trio of hotel employees, Pegasus uses its Twitter handle (@jamaicapegasus) to promote food and beverage events, new room packages and to conduct contests. “We retweet industry related posts and respond to queries about our products and services, but we do not use Twitter for direct advertising,” Simpson says. The hotel’s Twitter team emphasizes interaction, retweeting positive comments while using negative comments as a guest service tool, making direct comment to address and correct any issues.

Whether Twitter is worth the time and effort from a revenue standpoint remains hotly debated in hotel industry circles, but Simpson says Pegasus has seen a definitive return on investment. “The ROI is quickly realized when the phones start ringing with requests for quotations to host similar events or to enquire about specific elements that were displayed at the tweetup,” she says. “Twitter users readily identify themselves as such, and when they do business they tweet about it in real time. We measure these responses, and they are quantifiable. By asking our clients to bring receipts from purchases at our F&B outlets to win prizes we were able to gather useful research data. Our food and beverage sales in the outlets have definitely increased with our twitter promos.”