Big Hotels Aim for Little Demographic Targets

Big Hotels Aim for Little Demographic Targets

You are probably engaged in some aspect of social media like Twitter, Facebook and travel blogs. Hotels are seeking you out among the long tail of traveler niches. Long-tail marketing reaches a socially fragmented society by targeting numerous niches of the general population with a variety of hotel promotions. This growing tactic of social media campaigns supplements traditional hotel marketing through newspapers, magazines and TV/radio.

As a consumer, you can win a free room online through multitudinous social media sites and blog giveaways. Just like most content on social media sites is fleeting, hotel promotions on social media sites tend to be short, limited time opportunities.

The under $75,000 household income group is sometimes defined as the lower middle class. I suspect lower middle class hotel guests seeking vacations on a budget are more likely to gravitate to loyalty promotion incentives or social media giveaways for the chance at free hotel nights.

Turn on, tune in and upload comments, photos and videos

Hotel loyalty giveaways in July were common. Marriott sponsored 25,000-point giveaways through a variety of “mommy” blogs. I assume the rationale is Marriott Hotels will be in the thoughts of all the non-winning blog responders when it comes time to book their next hotel room. Hyatt Resorts awarded prizes of 7,000 and 44,000 points for uploading a photo on their Facebook page. HHonors Racing fans could enter to win a September trip to Milan to see the Italian Grand Prix. Accor Hotels targeted Americans into playing an online photo discrepancy game for a high score to win a 12-day trip to Europe including airfare from the U.S. and stays in three upscale Sofitel and Pullman hotels in Paris, Berlin and Barcelona. Radisson Blu offered 365 free hotel nights over five years to the European winner of a social media popularity contest.

Why do I mention these expired social media promotions for free upscale hotel nights and vacations? I want to illustrate the long-tail marketing frontier for hotels. An additional point is the small number of entrants in these niche market contests makes good odds for winning a high value prize.

Facebook, Twitter and blogs are a major source for discounted and free hotel night offers. Social media sites are the longtail consumer niches being targeted with fleeting hotel opportunities. Tune in and make yourself the target.

Upscale hotel guests — who are we really?

A surprising statistic for me just might surprise you too. D.K. Shifflet & Associates presented consumer research to the hotel industry at the AH&LA June 2010 Summer Summit in Phoenix. The presentation slides are posted on — Guests with household incomes less than $75,000 per year occupied 33 percent, or one in three room nights at luxury and upscale hotels in the U.S. in 2009. High income guests making over $150,000 were just 18 percent of the total room nights at these high-end hotels. Just goes to show that school teachers and nurses are just as likely to be hanging out at the pool of the Westin or J.W. Marriott as Wall Street or Hollywood elites.

Mid-level hotel segment occupancy was evenly distributed between guests with incomes under $75,000 or incomes up to $150,000. Each group occupied around 45 percent of total U.S. room nights. Apparently the entire middle class seeks value. The rich draw the line at mid-scale hotels (10 percent of guests). They are much less likely to be mingling at the Hampton Inn complimentary breakfast buffet.

Traditional loyalty offers earn free nights in August

Hotel loyalty program promotions and special rate offers are an economic stimulus to the under $75,000 demographic of hotel guests. This is the market segment of consumers most at risk for cutting discretionary hotel spend.

High value traditional loyalty promotions are still available for August hotel stays since the free night promotions for Hilton, Hyatt and Starwood expired in June and July.

One free night credit is available for Best Western Rewards members with two stays anywhere worldwide by Aug. 15, 2010. The free night is only valid for hotel stays in U.S. or Canada. Elite members may earn two free nights. Not elite? The good news is that Best Western Rewards will match your elite status from another hotel program. Visit

Carlson Hotels goldpoints plus offers a free night for every two stays through Aug. 31, 2010. This is one of the best hotel loyalty promotions of the year with great vacation leverage opportunities. Carlson Hotels include hundreds of mid-priced Country Inn & Suites hotels in the U.S. along with upscale Radisson Blu hotels around the world for free nights. There is a limit of seven earned free nights. Free night redemption is from Sept. 1 through Feb. 28, 2011. Register at

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