New York’s YOTEL Unites Tech Community With Hospitality Groove

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:


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!


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.


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.


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,, Art Nerd New York,,,, 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.


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.

5 Minutes With JWT

JWT is the world’s best-known marketing communications brand, and a true global network with 200-plus offices in over 90 countries. This, year JWT returns to Social Media Week New York as host to our Advertising & Marketing content hub. We sat down with CEO of JWT North America, David Eastman, to chat about their role in this year’s event:

1. This will be the fourth year that JWT New York has partnered with Social Media Week. Why is SMW an event that your company keeps returning to?
First of all, we love partnering with SMW. Being involved in the conversation about how technology is shaping our lives and impacting the way we connect with each other is both fascinating and important to us as an agency. The sessions at Social Media Week cover a lot of surface area and bring people together from across different industries, passions and areas of expertise. We’re proud to be part of it.

2. This year, our global theme is “Open & Connected: Principles for a Collaborative World.” How does JWT embody or support this idea?
JWT is a network, and in order to work efficiently our network needs to be open and connected to itself, our partners and clients. The accelerating rate of change in our industry means that, as one of the largest global agencies with more than 200 offices in 90 countries, collaboration has to be at the heart of how we operate. So I’d say that we embody, support and are an example of your global theme!

3. What trends do you see emerging in advertising?
Statistically, this will be the year where we see social becoming predominantly mobile because internet use via smartphones and tablets will surpass access by laptops and desktops. This inflection point will unleash yet another disruptive wave of creativity in web experiences, content and applications. I also see this all as a positive for TV advertising as, in order to keep our attention, it will need to surprise and delight more often.

4. Which of your campaigns have been the more creative and successful in the past year?
Rather than give a list, as a general answer I would say that the value of a great idea, well executed, and based on a great insight that reflects or forms culture has not changed, but the opportunities to exploit one have multiplied exponentially over the last few years, which makes it a great time to be in the brand building business.

5. JWT New York’s Band-Aid Magic Vision interactive campaign just received a great nod from AdForum’s Greatest Hits. Can you tell us more about the campaign and JWT’s expansion into interactive advertising?
The augmented reality category is littered with applications that focus on technology for technology’s sake, so this was an opportunity for us to use AR for something far more powerful. With Band-Aid Magic Vision, we wanted to do something fun, bold and meaningful for parents and their children. When parents and children scanned their Band-Aid bandage via a smartphone or tablet, it instantly became a stage for interactive entertainment designed to entertain kids’ pain away. The platform also provided a new media platform, unlocking infinite possibilities of ways to enhance the consumer brand experience. To say we’ve expanded into interactive advertising belies the fact that we’ve been doing it in some form or another for years now, but with Jeff Benjamin at the helm creatively we’re making more of a mark, as evidenced by the fact that this effort won Gold in the mobile category at Cannes last year.

6. Can you give us a preview of what you might discuss during your Social Media Week opening keynote?
I’m going to talk firstly about the surface volatility of the social ecosystem that is constantly creating new ways for all these elements to work together. Then about the fact that underneath this surface volatility I see a long-term geological shift happening: Social is moving quickly from ‘destination’ to ‘layer,’ and burrowing down into the undercarriage of the web to become part of its infrastructure. It is, in effect, eating the web.

7. What should SMW NYC attendees expect to see from JWT’s Advertising & Marketing Hub?
Expect to hear panels that delve into social media and the implications it has for marketers, consumers, technology, start ups and more. It’s going to be a draw for the beginner who is just getting into the industry as well as the seasoned professional. From JWT, we are hosting a few different events that are going to be great. Following her successful Social Media Week session last year, our Director of Trendspotting Ann Mack will be back, hosting a solo talk “Going Private in Public” (one of the trends surveyed in her 10 Trends for 2013 report), which explores reclaiming privacy in our lives where living publicly has become the default. We’re also going to dive into the realm of food in “What’s on Your Plate: How Digital Has Evolved Our Palates,” as we bring together some of today’s most influential foodies (think Yummly, Nestle, StudioFeast) who are pushing the bounds of what’s possible with food and technology. And with CSR efforts becoming an increasingly significant part of brand strategy and business models, our panel “Societal Brands in a Societal World” is going to take a closer look at how brands like Warby Parker are starting to adopt principles that are weighed not just by transactions alone but by their value to society.

Hub Spotlight: 5 Minutes With 92Y’s Asha Curran

Each year, we partner with iconic institutions to bring you dedicated content for SMW NYC. 92Y is the city’s premiere nonprofit cultural and community center, and they’ve been all about social good since 1874! 92Y will be serving as our Society & Social Impact Hub, and we couldn’t think of a better home for those conversations. Now, we want you to meet Asha Curran, Director for Center for Innovation & Social Impact at 92Y. As director of the Center for Innovation & Social Impact, Asha Curran works to expand the depth and reach of 92Y’s programming through social media, partnerships and collaboration within 92Y’s diverse programming centers. She’s also been working with our team to help pull together the programming for the week and make sure you have a great experience there, while learning how we can all make the world a little better.

Asha, how did 92Y get involved with SMW NYC?
92Y has become more and more active in programming in the social media space, from hosting the last AllThingsD event with Walt Mossberg, Kara Swisher and Eric Schmidt, to our multi-platform partnerships with places like Mashable, Politico, Buzzfeed, Comedy Central Indecision and others. We’re thrilled to be the Society & Social Impact hub for this year’s SMW, since it’s so aligned with what we do—with social media specifically but with our mission in general. As a Jewish institution, we’ve been serving the community since 1874 have always strived to meet emerging social needs. A commitment to service, as well as a passion for ideas, is core to our mission.

This year, our global theme is “Open & Connected: Principles for a Collaborative World.” How does 92Y embody or support this idea?
92Y is a community center that has been encouraging open dialogue, engagement and enrichment for 139 years, but evolving technology and new media offer us the chance to radically expand our definition of community and engagement. We’re strong advocates of the use of social media to catalyze social change, and of encouraging the connected generation to tackle the world’s biggest challenges by using the technological and new media tools at their disposal. The idea of collaboration is becoming more and more central to what we do—collaborating to draw together all the genius of our various programming departments, to start with, but also reaching outside our organization to partner with NGOs, media companies, other NFPs and big businesses to create amazing collaborative programs, and to leverage those networks to share the content more widely.

The Social Good Summit that we present every fall in partnership with the UNFoundation, Mashable, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the UN Development Programme is centered entirely on the theme of using social media for social good, and focused on the principles of openness and accessibility, crowd-sourced solutions, grassroots thinking, and empowerment of local communities.

92Y is well known for your incredible programs- from comedy to arts to film. Can you tell us more about how 92Y has evolved and why providing those programs is so crucial to the community?
Intellectual exploration (in whatever form—classes, lectures, art, music, dance) has a more important place than ever in such a frenetic, multi-tasking world. We’re becoming a society which digests a neverending firehose of content in short-form servings, often in solitude, and in which people often gravitate to that content which reinforces what they already think. But vigorous debate is so crucial; the hardest conversations are often the most important ones to have, and real growth and progress can’t happen without being open to new ideas, new positions. It’s the engagement itself which is valuable. Our mission is to provide education and entertainment at with depth and thoughtfulness, with many points of entry and many voices. Most experiences are richer when they’re had with a community.

If you walk through either 92Y location, you might hear the strains of a string quartet rehearsing from the concert hall, or a jazz band in the Tribeca mainstage, the voices of children and their parents, the instructions of an art or jewelry teacher, or a group of strangers getting to know each other over a glass of wine before the start of a lecture. And with our digital work as well, our goal is to get people together, learning, talking, engaging, taking action.

The nonprofit and social impact space is deeply impacted by social and emerging media. What trends do you see taking shape in this area?
Technology now allows us as a not-for-profit (or, as we call ourselves, a for-purpose) to scale our core values of community, connection, conversation, and philanthropy, and reach a much wider audience. That’s an amazing opportunity and we’re taking full advantage of it. We’re big believers in the potential of what we call the “connected generation”—not just young people, but all people who are technologically savvy, engaged, lateral thinkers, and hungry for social change and willing to work to make it happen. The ability of communities—of anyone—to curate powerful, influential conversations via social media, to rally people around an idea, is having a profound impact even on the national agenda. The old power model is changing.

What are some of the success stories from 92Y in social & emerging media?
92Y founded and led #GivingTuesday, a national day of giving to follow on the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Our original goal was to gather 100 partners in support of the idea. Instead, we had 2,500 by the time the day itself came around. The White House endorsed the idea, as did the Mayors of New York, Philly and Chicago; it received nationwide press and Blackbaud, a not-for-profit software company who gathered analytics for us, estimated that online giving went up over 50% year over year for that date. It was a phenomenal success that spoke to the philanthropic nature of Americans, the sheer power of social media, and the eagerness of communities to rally together in support of a cause.

Our annual Social Good Summit, now in its fourth year, reached a record number of people last year due to the combined social media reach of our partners Mashable, UNFoundation, the Gates Foundation, the UN Development Programme and Ericsson. We held the flagship event here in NYC, livestreamed simultaneously in seven languages, with hub events in Beijing, Nairobi and Mogadishu, as well as over 300 local community meetups around the world in over 150 countries. Each meetup was held around one question: “what can technology and new media do to improve conditions in your community?” We received incredible feedback from localities from Austin to Syria to Bhutan to Bangalore.

92Y also began 92Y American Conversation this past year, which is a multi-platform initiative to share the best in 92Y political content as widely as possible. We partnered with Harvard Kennedy School, Comedy Central Indecision, Politico, the Aspen Institute and many more to create new, original content as well as share the best moments from our stage. We’ve seen hundreds of thousands of views and media pickups from HuffPo to the NY Times.

What should SMW NYC attendees expect to see from 92Y Tribeca and at the Society & Social Impact Hub?
We’ll host a range of great programs on topics from urban development to visual social media to the ethical challenges of “big data.” I’m particularly excited for “Giving Gangnam Style: An Ideathon with the #GivingTuesday Team” (Tuesday, Feb 19th at 12pm) and for “Grassroots + Social=Change” (Wednesday, Feb 20th at 2:30pm), which we’ve programmed in partnership with our good friends at Mashable and which will speak on the theme of social media as a catalyst for societal change, which is at the heart of so much of our work.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm- Super Early Bird Pass Options

SMW started in NYC right off the heels of the 2008 elections, almost 5 years ago. It’s incredible to think on how it’s grown and changed over the years. A year after we started, we began adding livestreamed content. Then three years ago, we introduced the Content Hub, separating out content in verticals to make it easier to select events of interest. Because the content at our official Hubs is highly curated and in higher demand, last year we began offering special passes to ensure you get to see what is of most interest. Pass holders got to skip registration at a particular Hub or with our Insider Pass, overall- in addition to special perks and benefits from our partners and access to our Official Parties.

This year, we’re keeping the trend and going bigger and more convenient again. SMW NYC returns with 4 Official Content Hubs and a little something new- a Global Headquarters. Our Global HQ will feature interactive exhibits, food and beverages, classes and main stage programming dedicated to the Architects, Collaborators and Inventors who are changing the world.

From targeted Hub Passes to all-inclusive Insider Passes to just scoping out the new HQ, we want to give you the opportunity to see it all. Starting Monday, December 10th until December 21, SMW NYC Passes will be available at a Super Early Bird discount- 40% off the standard price.

We’ll still be offering plenty of events a la carte for free with amazing content. You can check out what to expect with our initial schedule- live on Monday as well. And if you’re still holding off on getting your event in, now’s the time. We’ll be pushing out events regularly until event submission closes January 11th. Get it in early so we can start saving your event to our “Favorites.”

Looking forward to seeing you this February!

Some Health & Wellness Favorites

We know. There are a lot of events taking place next week and the very act of perusing the schedule can be, at times, overwhelming.  So we wanted to lend a hand and highlight a few of our favorite events taking place at the Health & Wellness Hub!

You’re welcome.
Click HERE to see all of the events taking place at the Health & Wellness Hub all next week! 

Monday February 13th from 10-12pm: Keynote: Carol McCall on Big Data and the Eye of the Beholder

Tuesday February 14th from 9-10am: Keynote: Frank Moss on The 2012 MIT Health and Wellness Innovation Hackathon

Tuesday February 14th from 10-10:45am:Keynote: J.C. Herz on Unpacking the Quantified Self followed by Panel: The Sensor Continuum

Tuesday February 14th from 3-4pm: This game will make you healthier

Wednesday February 15th from 10-10:45am: How We Did It: The Sanofi Open Innovation Challenge

Thursday February 16th from 9-10am: Keynote: Jay Walker, Chairman and Curator of TEDMED

Thursday February 17th from 10-11am: Investors in the Hot Seat: Leading Health Investors Pitch To StartUps 

Thursday February 16th from 1-2pm: Fixing Health From the Outside In

Thursday February 16th from 3-6pm: Alternative Funding for Healthcare Innovation followed by Crossing the Chasm: Healthcare Innovation Matchmaking Session

Thursday February 16th from 6:30-8: Networking Reception with Sanofi

Friday February 17th from 1-2pm: Keynote: Daniel Kraft, MD, Executive Director, FutureMed

And here are some great events focused on Patient Advocacy: 

Monday February 13th from 1-2pm: Fast Forward Health presents 73 Cents followed by Q&A with Regina Holliday 

Monday February 13th from 2:30-3:30pm: Power to the Patient

Tuesday February 14th from 1-2pm: Fireside Chat: The Rise of the Patient Platform 

Tuesday February 15th from 5:30-6:30 pm: Women, Money & Social Power: What Made The Komen Debacle A Win For Women 

Tuesday February 15th from 5-6pm: Keynote: Dr. Pam Peeke on Rx for the Sitting Disease – Medicate with Movement 

Wednesday February 15th from 1-2pm: Keynote: Michael Roizen, M.D. Chair, Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute and Chief Wellness Officer, The Cleveland Clinic 

Wednesday February 15th from 4:30-6pm: Let’s Crowdsource! FDA Social Media Guidelines + Sunshine Act Comments 

Wednesday February 15th from 8-10pm: FastForward Health Presents: Stories of Global Health Innovation Film Screenings
Wednesday February 15th from 8-10pm: FastForward Health Presents: Stories of Global Health Innovation Film Screenings