Sheraton Imperial Hotel & Convention Center
The Sheraton Imperial Hotel & Convention Center, established in 1986, is located in southeast Durham just minutes from Research Triangle Park. Sheraton Imperial provides award-winning facilities and services to business travelers from across the globe.
Sheraton Imperial sought to expand its brand reach and reputation, building upon a substantial client base and connecting with prospective customers. This expansion through social media has translated into increased room bookings and restaurant reservations, and sales have never been stronger. MMI provided proactive guidance on achieving these aims through a social media campaign strategy focused on best practices that implemented changes and improvements in content, delivery and engagement across multiple social channels.
PHASE 1 DISCOVERY
Following completion of secondary research and management interviews, MMI recommended specific topics and news for use across social media to better meet key stakeholders interests and promote continual, active engagement. Our strategy consulting services began with a comprehensive social media audit. This audit included a survey of Sheraton Imperial’s current social media efforts, performance assessment, its competitors’ presence, opportunities for growth and current market share of voice.
MMI’s audit revealed that Sheraton Imperial’s social media efforts were concentrated on Facebook, where they had gained 756 fans. While this was a positive start, content did not mention one of Sheraton Imperial’s most valuable assets, Seasons Restaurant, where customers have gravitated to its farm-to-table concept of using organic ingredients sourced locally. In addition, there was little engagement with fans on Facebook, as the page served mainly as a storehouse of information – offering little two-way dialogue with its audience.
Sheraton Imperial had a minimal Twitter presence, with only eight followers. The @SheratonRTP Twitter feed followed just eight accounts, had tweeted twice and did not engage with followers. Through the audit, MMI determined that room for substantial improvement was needed in terms of content and engagement to advance Sheraton Imperial’s social media performance.
PHASE 2 STRATEGY & PLANNING
MMI assessed that while Sheraton Imperial’s Facebook page was a critical component of its social media success, it was important to craft a more comprehensive social strategy to reach out to current and potential guests. To fully leverage Sheraton Imperial’s social media potential, MMI recommended increasing Facebook and Twitter presence, as well as establishing check-ins on FourSquare for both the Seasons Restaurant and Sheraton Club Lounge and reservations on Open Table.
To boost Sheraton Imperial’s engagement through these platforms, MMI determined that content needed to center around the hotel’s locally-focused environment, culture, people, food and business amenities. By emphasizing that Sheraton Imperial was a locally owned hotel, social media engagement would likely increase, as this kind of effort would help to humanize the brand over peers and competitors.
To increase likes for Facebook, MMI refocused content and posting an average of once per weekday. Content most likely to receive attention included photos of employees, family events, special promotions, giveaways and notices of notable community events. MMI recommended an emphasis particularly on featuring Sheraton Imperial employees’ accomplishments to offer a personal touch that would engage and interest current and potential followers, such as their participation in the Ice Bucket Challenge and a profile of the chefs at Seasons Restaurant by WRAL Out and About. As part of this strategy, MMI also began highlighting the Seasons Restaurant as a way to appeal not only to short-term hotel guests, but also community residents.
On Twitter, MMI implemented content that dramatically increased its followers to nearly 1,000, such as working with the Sheraton Imperial team to institute a special 1,000th follower giveaway contest, which included a gift card reward to Seasons Restaurant to the person who earned that honor. MMI crafted this campaign and Twitter-specific promotion specifically to increase traffic.
In addition, attention was placed on events happening in Durham and the greater Triangle community. Because Sheraton Imperial attracts business travelers from around the world, MMI determined it was important for the hotel to be a partner in giving such guests a taste of the local atmosphere that would attract them for future visits.
PHASE 3 PRODUCTION & DELIVERY
These strategic initiatives resulted in a significant increase in customer engagement across all Sheraton Imperial social media accounts and improved room bookings restaurant reservations. In a report to the hotel’s management after three months of campaign implementation, MMI reported the following results: