Meliá Hotels Uses Local Influencers to Drive Covid-19 Awareness
Brochures and signage are easy to overlook, but social media influencers are harder to miss. As they work to bring back guests during the Covid-19 pandemic, a number of hotel chains are relying on partnerships with social media influencers to educate guests on the new safety protocols they’ve put in place.
At Meliá Hotels International, a Spanish hotel chain with more than 380 locations around the world, safety is top of mind for both guests and executives. As travel begins to pick up and marketing strategies kick back into gear, Meliá is launching a Covid-related campaign with the social media influencer Chiara Ferragni. Meliá’s global director of social media, Santiago Garcia Solimei, says the campaign is designed to educate customers on the measures the company is taking to ensure safety at its hotels.
“Our number-one goal for this campaign is to raise awareness of the changes we’ve made at our hotels to ensure the safety of our guests and staff,” Garcia Solimei says. “We know how important it is to earn the trust of our guests in the current context of Covid-19.”
Like so many other hospitality groups, Meliá closed down almost all of its hotels at the height of the pandemic. Given the unprecedented nature of the shutdown, Garcia Solimei says Meliá felt it was important to establish new procedures to ensure the safety of guests. Those procedures, created with the help of a third-party organization called Bureau Veritas, became the basis of a new social media campaign. The #StaySafewithMeliá protocol includes new check-in procedures, food and beverage protocols, cleaning processes, and a full re-design of the hotel experience.
“Instead of just telling our audience about the changes we’ve made, we wanted influencers to help us show and tell our audience the new, safe, and enjoyable experiences we were once again offering at Meliá Hotels around the world,” Garcia Solimei says. “We had the opportunity to work with Chiara in our Gran Meliá property in Rome as she was one of our first guests to highlight the new experience at our hotel in Italy as the country was reopening.”
The hotel chain is working with an influencer marketing and management platform called Traackr to scale and manage its social campaigns.
This isn’t the first time Garcia Solimei or his team have worked with influencers on social campaigns. Garcia Solimei says this campaign is very similar to most influencer campaigns, with the ultimate goal of reaching existing and new audiences with engaging content coming from the voices of relevant figures they trust and admire.
“While the campaign to raise awareness of our Covid-19 safety procedures is unique, we wanted to maintain this realness — giving the influencers room to create the content in their own unique styles,” Garcia Solimei says. “The biggest difference between this campaign and our previous efforts has been our focus on macro and celebrity influencers.”
When it comes to raising awareness of new safety measures for guests and staff, Garcia Solimei believes influencer marketing is the best approach for global companies like Meliá. Influencers can share their experiences with the new procedures in an authentic way, and they can communicate to their own audiences how they feel about the standards.
That sort of full-throttle approach may be necessary for brands that want to bring customers back this year. Foot traffic data shows daily visits to businesses are down 24% from last year, and after the initial plunge this spring, consumer habits have been slow to recover. Traditional OOH campaigns may not be as effective, either, with fewer people commuting in traffic and leaving their homes on a daily basis.
As with most awareness campaigns, Garcia Solimei says the metrics he and his team are paying close attention to are impressions and engagements.
“So far we have collaborated with 30 influencers, with a combined audience of 37 million followers and generating over 5,000 unique visitors from 25 different countries, 83% of which are new sessions, to our website,” he says.
Although Meliá’s social campaign has been running primarily in Spain, Italy, and Germany, the company has plans to expand into Mexico, the United States, and the Dominican Republic in the near future.
“In each case, we are focusing on partnering with local influencers to minimize travel times and distance and to have a focus on local audiences who are more willing to visit our hotel in what we call staycations, he says. “Right now, staycations are top of mind for many consumers who are eager to ‘get away,’ but also looking to avoid lengthy travel.”
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.