Yotel is not your typical hotel. It takes inspiration from luxury, airline travel with a touch of Japanese influence, and mixes that all up to create a small yet sophisticated cabin west of Times Square. We sat down with Jo Berrington, YOTEL’s Marketing Director, to learn what Yotel is doing in social, technology, entertainment, and guest services. Here’s what we discussed:
1. ARE GUESTS REQUESTING A CERTAIN TYPE OF TECHNOLOGY THAT THE INDUSTRY IS EXPLORING
Of course guests are looking forward to upgrades in technology, but only those that make sense to save them time or money. They don’t want to be experimented on – particularly in our airport hotels, guests have traveled for miles on planes or are in transit and they just want simple technology that works. We are in the process of developing a new mobile app that will give guests the option to check-in and receive their key by simply showing the self-service check-in kiosk a barcode. Our check-in will be down to less than 30 seconds – a huge plus for busy, time poor, exhausted travelers!
2. HOW IS YOTEL IMPLEMENTING TECHNOLOGY INTO THE GUEST EXPERIENCE?
The goal for YOTEL was to revolutionize the hotel industry by providing a new kind of hotel experience. We’ve incorporated technology into the experience, from the minute guests arrive with the ability to check in through self-serve airline-style kiosks to storing their luggage with YOBOT – our robot luggage storage system. YOTEL’s rooms called ‘cabins’ are uncompromisingly designed and include motorized, moving beds to save space; heated towel racks; air conditioning and lighting activated by motion sensors as well as techno wall with flat screen TV, multi power points and iPod connectivity. Whether our guests are visiting NYC on business or leisure, they appreciate our complimentary super strength Wi-Fi that’s available throughout all the cabins and public spaces.
3. WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM THE FUTURE OF THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY?
Our new app gives guests the option to socially chat – if they are staying at the hotel as part of a group, they will be given the option to opt into chatting with other group members to arrange meetings, drinks, social events, etc. Our app will also be the hub for guests finding out about the local area – i.e. where they can find a 24/7 juice bar. Eventually later this year, or early next, guests will be able to ask our Mission Control crew questions directly from the app – the same time they will be able to ask for an extra towel or a linen change.
4. HOTELS ARE KNOWN FOR “SURPRISING AND DELIGHTING” GUESTS. HAVE ANY GREAT STORIES TO SHARE AROUND THIS TREND?
We certainly had a big one in 2014. Due to renovations on ‘FOUR’ (our artful, expansive fourth-floor space that includes four bars, a restaurant, lounge areas, and the largest hotel terrace in New York City), a temporary 30-foot wall was installed across from our front desk (“Mission Control”) to block out construction noise and prevent guest dissatisfaction. To transform the wall from a potential annoyance to something fun, we turned the wall into a wall built of LEGO® bricks, allowing our guests to let out their inner child during their stay. Between January and March 2014, guests were encouraged to “play for a future stay” (our campaign tagline) at YOTEL New York by entering their LEGO® wall creations into a social media photo contest. Photos tagged with #MyLegoMasterpiece on Twitter & Instagram would be entered to win free stays, including a three-night stay in our First King Cabin (which comes with an outdoor terrace and hot tub).
The winners were determined after the deconstruction of the wall, and opening of our new restaurant, East & West, mid-March. Guest participation was exceptionally strong. The wall served as on-property entertainment, and generated campaign media coverage in more than 25 online publications that collectively receive 26.8 million unique monthly visitors. Online publications included The New York Times, CNN, Condé Nast Traveler, HotelsMag.com, Art Nerd New York, Examiner.com, NewYork.com, News.com.au, and more. Our on-property FourSquare check-ins increased 2.6% during the campaign period, our microsite received over 8.5k unique visitors, and the hashtag generated just under 300 submissions.
5. DOES YOTEL USE SOCIAL AND DATA ANALYTICS?
YOTEL is an Enterprise client with the social media platform HootSuite. We utilize HootSuite custom reports for each of our platforms, giving us insights as to how each channel is performing as a whole, and also on a more detailed post-level. One great feature that we utilize within HootSuite is the stream for keyword & search queries on Twitter. This allows us to monitor conversations in real-time (and jump into them!), and to see what people are saying about the brand, our competition, and trending topics. The data we collect from HootSuite is analyzed internally and used to assist in our content strategy, posting habits, and targeting methods. We also heavily rely on Google Analytics to track direct & assisted bookings produced from social media.
Thanks to YOTEL for joining SMW NYC this year as our hotel partner. They have offered conference attendees a special rate to stay at YOTEL during Social Media Week!
Jo Berrington. Marketing Director, YOTEL, spent the first part of her career with British Airways in sales support, event management and corporate account management roles. Jo originally trained in design, photography and printing in Leeds and then whilst with BA studied Marketing with the Chartered Institute and the London Business school before taking up regional marketing role with them. In 2000 Jo then joined the iconic London Eye for its opening and launch as Head of Marketing and PR managing brand strategy, communications, design, product development, pricing and distribution strategy, digital, website and sponsorship. In 2006 Jo left BA to join the founding team of YOTEL and is responsible for brand strategy and identity, culture and innovation, external and internal communication and content through digital and social.