American Marketer


Waldorf Astoria drives social engagement through road trip prompt

September 24, 2014

Waldorf Astoria's Instagram Waldorf Astoria's Instagram


Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts is encouraging guests to share images from their road trips on social media to spark conversation.

Using hashtag #WaldorfExpereinces, guests are welcome to share their photos on Twitter and Instagram during the fall to potentially win one of six prizes. With the contest and hashtag, Waldorf Astoria will be able to bring itself into guests’ lives and prolong interaction outside of their stays at the brand’s hotels.

"With the contest, Waldorf Astoria is engaging social influencers to interact with the brand online," said Taylor Rains, a Charleston-based luxury brand consultant.

"In doing so through this type of contest, Waldorf Astoria is stimulating conversation in a non-promotional way," he said. "In effect, its associating its brand with travel and unique experiences through user-generated content rather than pushing out that message directly. The results are organic and therefore more readily adopted by consumers."

Mr. Rains is not affiliated with Waldorf Astoria, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Waldorf Astoria was unable to comment by press deadline.

Hotel communities
Running through early December, the contest will have six random drawings of winners. The first will be on Oct. 10 and will occur every eight to 16 days after until the final drawing on Dec. 10. Winners will receive a two-night stay at any Waldorf Astoria Hotel & Resort in the world.

The contest asks social media followers to upload a photo using #WaldorfExperiences from a road trip. Entries are encouraged to feature roads and cars.

Images on Twitter and Instagram will be considered for the random drawings.

Waldorf contest

Post from Waldorf Astoria

Waldorf Astoria has previously been involved with driving experiences through its release of an ultimate driving experience at six of the brand’s locations. The experience allows guests to drive several luxury vehicles with a professional driver.

The program will take place this fall at select Waldorf Astoria locations across the United States and will allow guests to gain firsthand experience with racecars from Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche. Since specific automakers are featured the hotelier may attract loyalists of the particular vehicles.

Waldorf Astoria driving experience

Waldorf driving experiences

Waldorf Astoria also asked participants to interact with the hotel on social media through the hashtag #WaldorfExperience when posting about the driving experience. By using the hashtag, guests are also entering themselves to potentially win a free stay at a Waldorf Astoria property (see story).

The use of the hashtag across related platforms will drive attention to the contest.

Instagram contests can allow luxury hotel brands to measure the impact of their social media channels and gain a deeper understanding of guests’ interests.

With the ubiquity of mobile phones and social media engagement, providing fans and guests with a creative project attached to prizes seems like a simple way to stay relevant. However, beyond the immediate fun, such contests can arm brands with insights into how consumers respond to their social media pages and how they can structure future offers (see story).

Similar contests to Waldorf Astoria’s fall hashtag competition have been organized by other brands.

For instance, Four Seasons Hotel New York advocated for high spirits this summer with an Instagram contest asking fans to show their love for the city.

The hotel teamed with a global vacation photography company, Flytographer, to launch the #FSNYSummerLove photo contest. Hotel guests and New York locals were encouraged to return to Four Seasons Hotel New York’s social media pages to discover the weekly contest theme all summer long (see story).

Contests that circle around a prize or goal typically generate consumer interest.

"Incentivizing the contest with a prize is the most effective way to get it off the ground," Mr. Rains said.

"People recognize their power as consumers in the social arena and aren't likely to participate in something for a brand unless there is motivation to do so," he said. "While the contest does not have any direct benefits for guests of Waldorf Astoria, it does serve to boost the brand's value as an experience provider."

Final Take

Nancy Buckley, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York

Nancy Buckley, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York