“A land unto itself” is how Terranea Resort, an uber-luxury oceanfront property set on a peninsula in southern California, is described on its website. For its guests Terranea serves as a relaxing escape from the hectic pace of Los Angeles, located just 30 miles away.
Yet the resort’s secluded setting was proving to be both a benefit and a challenge. Agnelo Fernandes, Terranea’s SVP of sales and marketing, said the property lacked awareness among SoCal residents. Speaking at HSMAI/Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International’s Digital Marketing Strategy Conference in New York on Tuesday, his case study outlined the social media programs the resort pursued to be more SoCal-local.
Before launching its new theme, “Discover a Land, Not Far Away”, the resort targeted the local community, especially lifestyle gurus active on social media. The goal was to offer entrée to Terranea so they could share their experiences, and in the process grow the resort’s fan base.
To identify 14 power influencers from surrounding areas with expertise in travel, food, spa and golf, Fernandes said they held a contest via Facebook and their newly re-designed website last summer. Since the prize was a weekend resort getaway, the social media talent search sparked much interest. His team had their hands full selecting the final group, and a dating expert, a USC professor and a realtor were among the winners.
The resort feted the fortunate 14 and encouraged them to activate specially designed passports by participating in diverse resort offerings. Apparently they needed little persuasion, and readily shared their exploits on social media platforms.The influencer group also competed to be named the resort’s 2014 brand ambassador, and three were selected. In addition, Terranea hosted a sweepstakes for its Facebook fans with resort stays as the prize.
Overall, the campaign was a win-win for Terranea and the local contest participants, leading to increases in the resort’s social media followers and bookings. “The campaign expanded our brand footprint and generated more buzz than most of our ads or press releases”, Fernandes said. The process also proved valuable from a learning standpoint, he added.
Advance planning and consulting with legal about the contest was critical, Fernandes noted. He ensured that Terranea associates were on board and excited about the program. His team, including social media manager Cera Lockhart, carefully selected brand ambassador contestants since “they have to represent the brand with the same voice”. They also monitored the brand experience conveyed on social media.
Terranea’s brand ambassador program didn’t ask contestants to deliver a presentation containing 20 slides that automatically fast forward every 20 seconds. But that was the protocol for selected speakers at the HSMAI conference, including Fernandes. In fact the pace worked so well, we thought of another spot where the auto fast-forward feature would be welcome: at the upcoming Oscars, for winners’ acceptance speeches, taking place in LaLa land, not far away.
Meanwhile, back at the resort, guests this Sunday evening will be attending an Oscar viewing party at the restaurant, mar’sel, where they will sample a themed menu inspired by the eleven Oscar-contending films. Selected desserts include homemade saltwater taffy (Captain Phillips) and moon pie (Gravity).
(image courtesy of Terranea Resort)
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