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  • Chloe Riley

A social influencer program that works

Resort at Pelican Hill was highlighted as one of six Best of the Best (BOBs) for HOTELS 2017 Social Hotel Awards.

Talk about using influencers smart. It’s one thing to find the people who have the followers, but it’s another thing to actually leverage those likes using very specific, targeted strategies, which is just what the California-based Resort at Pelican Inn did with its newly launched social influencer program. One key element has been developing ongoing relationships with each influencer, sending congratulatory cards to celebrate a milestone or simply engaging with the influencer’s daily Instagram posts. The message is that these collaborations aren’t merely a transactional or one-time engagement.

The Resort at Pelican Hill’s strategy with influencers was a combination of larger-scale personalized influencer visits as well as smaller scale targeted offerings for groups.

“We’ve learned to be diligent in vetting every opportunity, including evaluating follower authenticity, engagement metrics and brand alignment,” says the resort’s PR manager, Devon Hillard O'Connell.

The plan: Position the resort as a premier destination for travelers through collaborations with social media influencers. The original goal was to coordinate 12 influencer collaborations between September 2016 and June 2016 (the hotel ended up exceeding that goal with 57 influencer visits). Initially, the resort sought out influencers with at least 25,000 followers – those partners’ followers now average closer to 97,000.

The practice: In planning influencer visits, the resort created personalized itineraries based on what that influencer’s audience would be most interested in. The resort also waived its site fees for the influencer collaborations in return for location credit on all social media or blog posts and permission to re-share their photos on the resort’s social media. The resort also coordinated individual visits commensurate to the influencer’s audience size and anticipated coverage, ranging from a hosted lunch valued at US$70 to a spa, cabana and dining “daycation” package valued at over US$750.

The payoff: The social influencer program reached a combined audience of nearly 5.5 million Instagram users. Since its first influencer visit, the resort has seen a 50% increase in Instagram followers, from 20,500 in August 2016 to 30,700. Since August 2016, Pelican Hill also received 380 inquiry calls to a unique phone number associated with our Instagram page, including 29 reservations booked.

The runner up: Canopy by Hilton Reykjavik City Centre

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