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Paris Hotels and Social Media:
Some Lagging Behind, Others at the Forefront
 

By Daniel Edward Craig
March 1, 2011

While in London this month, I couldn’t resist hopping on the Eurostar to visit Paris, where I spent four months in Paris in 2009 on a writing sabbatical. Like so many others, I fell in love with the city. But my next sabbatical will take place somewhere with fewer distractions—like an iceberg adrift in the Arctic Ocean.

Whenever I visit a city, I like to do a sweep of hotels to see what’s new and innovative, which can make me a dull travel companion for non-hoteliers. In Paris, the hotel market is in full recovery mode now, with MKG Hospitality reporting an 11.5% increase in RevPAR in 2010 over 2009. In the luxury segment, the Shangri-la just opened its doors, the Mandarin Oriental opens this summer, and the W Paris is slated for January 2012.

Walking into très luxueux hotels like The Ritz and The Crillon can be a bit intimidating, but a little trick I’ve learned is to pretend I’m on my cell phone—that way staff don’t bother me or throw me out. A great way to experience luxury hotels without selling a kidney to pay for a room is to have a drink in the bar. Try this at the Four Seasons, Hotel Costes or Le Meurice. Cocktails cost a small fortune, but it’s worth the experience.

It’s interesting to note that many luxury hotels in Paris have little or no social media presence, calling to mind a recent post on Hotel-Blogs.com by Guillaume Thevenot. Notable exceptions include Le Meurice and the Four Seasons on Facebook. And I like how the Ritz uses storytelling in the Behind the Scenes section of its website. Overall, however, websites don’t convey the grandeur and excitement of the hotels they represent, and some are as quirky and difficult to navigate as the streets of Paris.

Newly reopened is Le Royal Monceau, part of Raffles Hotels & Resorts, located in the posh 8th arrondissement between Place d’Etoile and the breathtaking Parc Monceau. Interiors are designed Philippe Starck, and brilliantly integrate contemporary design in an opulent historic setting. If you’re on a budget, you can experience a wackier version of Philippe Starck’s design at Mama Shelter, in the 20th arrondissement. The location is a bit removed, but room rates are reasonable, and local hipsters flock to the bar and restaurant on weekends.  

I was lucky enough to spend a night in the new Hotel le Seven, in the 5th arrondissement, as guest of owner Philippe Vaurs. Vaurs is the charismatic CEO of Elegancia Hotels, an eclectic group of designer boutique hotels, and Hotel le Seven is one of the most avant-garde hotels I’ve ever seen.

The hotel’s lobby and bar are fairly non-descript, but the rooms—wow. I stayed in an Absolute Levitation room, and with its floating bed, ceiling star-lights and white, puffy bed-coverings I felt like I was sleeping on a cloud. The suites are playful and imaginative, with sexy mood lighting and iconic furnishings—perfect for a discreet rendezvous with your Parisian paramour. Each suite has a different theme, like Marie Antoinette, Alice in Wonderland and—my personal favorite—James Bond. With rates starting at only €150 ($207), Hotel le Seven is one of Paris’s best-kept secrets.

Martin Soler is the man behind the hotel’s progressive social media program, and his experiments with content and networking are enjoying impressive results. The hotel has almost 13,000 likes on Facebook and strong engagement with followers.  

Martin is Vice President of Marketing at WIHP, a marketing company for independent hotels. He gave me a demo of Nayumi, proprietary software that takes web tracking and analytics to a new level. Rather than visitor centric, the software is revenue centric, tracking every step in the online sales cycle from origin to booking. The tool also has a reputation tracking component to help clients to understand the relationship between reputation and revenue. In my mind this is the future: revenue management will be fully integrated with reputation management. You can keep tabs on Martin via his blog, as I intend to do.

Another French hotel company on the forefront of social media marketing is Accor. In December I interviewed Jean-Luc Chrétien about Accor’s decision to post a live TripAdvisor feed for all properties on its corporate website. In Paris I met with the masterminds behind the initiative: Cedric Gobilliard, Senior VP of Direct Sales and Loyalty, and Romain Roulleau, Deputy Senior VP Direct Sales. In true spirit of transparency, they shared some of the results so far.

Not only has the TripAdvisor widget boosted search engine rankings and made the website stickier—visitors are less likely to leave in search of traveler reviews—it has also made hotel managers more accountable and attentive to guest feedback, tripling the response rate to reviews from GMs. Surprisingly, in terms of conversions it’s the company’s lower-end brands that have benefited most, suggesting that the combination of transparency, quality and value is a powerful incentive for travelers to book.

Cedric and Romain expect to have more results to report in the next month or two. In the meantime, check out this reputation management case study involving Accor and social media monitoring company Synthesio.

And that, mes amis, is my roundup of Parisian hotels.



Daniel Edward Craig is a former general manager turned hotel consultant specializing in social media strategy, storytelling, and reputation management for the lodging industry. He is the author of three hotel-based novels, a popular blog, and various articles about issues in the hotel industry. His new e-book, The Hotelier’s Guide to Online Reputation Management, is now available. Visit www.danieledwardcraig.com or email dec@danieledwardcraig.com. Twitter: dcraig.

Copyright © 2011 Daniel Edward Craig

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Contact: 

Daniel Edward Craig
dec@danieledwardcraig.com
 

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Also See: B&B or Big-Box? Social Media Stirs the Sleeping Micro-Giant of the Lodging Industry / Daniel Edward Craig / February 2011

Social Media and Storytelling for Hotels / Daniel Edward Craig / February 2011

A Round-up of Social Media and Reputation Monitoring Tools for Hotels / Daniel Edward Craig / February 2011

The Confidence to be Transparent: Why Accor Hotel Group Posts TripAdvisor Reviews Directly to its Website; An interview with Jean-Luc Chrétien, Executive VP Marketing & Distribution, Accor / Daniel Edward Craig / December 2010

A Positive Spin on Negative Reviews / Daniel Edward Craig / November 2010

Walking After Midnight: How to Avoid Being Bumped from Your Hotel / Daniel Edward Craig / October 2010

Why Everyone Gets a Hotel Room Upgrade... But You / Daniel Edward Craig / April 2008
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