UK chain lets guests stay late for Facebook posting

The UK’s Radisson Edwardian hotel chain has launched a unique social media campaign allowing guests to check out two hours later if they announce online that they’re staying at the hotel.

The set-up is fairly straightforward — guests click the “check in” button for the hotel on Facebook Places, an application on the social networking website that allows users to post their current location. Guests can also check in using the Foursquare social network. The initiative was crafted with the assistance of the iSpy marketing agency, which specializes in social media initiatives.

“We’ve been developing our social media strategy for a year now … what we wanted to do is really reach out to those one degree removed from us,” Lisa Smith, director of revenue and distribution at Radisson Edwardian, said. “We really much wanted to find a different way of connecting to our customers and rewarding them and going onto people that could stay with us.”

While allowing the guests to stay late does incur an indirect cost to the hotel, Radisson Edwardian asserts that the free advertising provided by the social network will give the campaign a solid return on investment, especially since the chain views this as providing an additional service to the guest rather than a deal or discount, which would directly pull down rate.

“We don’t always just want to get into a deal basis, but we thought it was more of a service offering than a deal. Many, many hotel groups are doing 50% off, free coffee, but this is more of a service offering,” Smith said. “We wanted to put ourselves on the map without going down the deal route, the discount route. There are a couple of influential brands over here, that you wouldn’t go to check out without a percentage off. We think it’s a leaky bucket.”

The campaign, which launched last week, will run until the end of July. Radisson Edwardian did not have exact numbers on participants but admitted that the adoption rate has not been very high yet among guests, but that could change as the campaign rolls along. If it proves successful enough, Smith said the late check-out for social media posting could become a permanent policy for the chain.

In addition to this, Radisson Edwardian has also introduced QR codes in their restaurant menus that show guests videos of how certain featured meals are prepared via smart phones.

Radisson Edwardian operates 14 hotels in England, with 13 in London and one in Manchester. Eleven of the hotels are owned by Radisson Edwardian while three are managed properties. Radisson Edwardian is part of the Radisson Hotels group, a subsidiary of the privately held Carlson hospitality corporation.