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PubCon 2009: How Major Vegas Hotels Are Using Social Media

Posted on Nov 11th, 2009
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    Las-VegasFrom the perspective of some, it seems like Vegas was late to participate in social media (according to the PubCon panel description).

    However, the prominent brands on the strip have stepped up to the plate and are actively engaged in social web participation.  They’re leveraging digital platforms for a variety of purposes – from customer service to promotion.

    This open-format panel at PubCon 2009 analyzed how Vegas marketing departments are using SM as part of their overall marketing plan and featured some of the largest names on the strip.  Brands represented were:

    • Brad Goldberg, Vice President of Marketing, Luxor
    • Brandie Feuer, Director of Interactive Marketing, Planet Hollywood
    • Peter Arceo, Executive Director of Casino Marketing, Las Vegas Hilton
    • Michael Perhaes, Assistant Vice President of Marketing, MGM Grand
    • Bryan Allison, Vice President, Marketing,

    The session moved quickly, but I was able to jot down the good bits from each of the speakers.


    Brad Goldberg, Vice President of Marketing, Luxor

    We saw successes from other brands using social media and decided we wanted to pattern the same results.  While not everyone may check their emails in Vegas, many of them still check their social profiles while traveling.  People are looking to what is happening right now, up-to-date.  We wanted to be a part of those real-time conversations and top-of-mind for our consumer base.

    We want to keep it fun – staying away from “cold” messages that are too commercial.  We think it’s important with regards to the social web to maintain personality/voice.  That’s one of the most important things we want to hold onto and maintain.  Otherwise, it’s just another advertising vehicle.

    Making it easier for those interacting with your products to communicate about those interactions is something we see as important to our future.

    peter_arceoPeter Arceo, Executive Director of Casino Marketing, Las Vegas Hilton

    At the Hilton, we don’t necessarily have the same resources of our competitors.  So what we do is staff social media with people actively interested in what we’re trying to do – spread our brand.  We try to get customers to both sample our offerings and make it social.  We have a “toys for Tweets” promotion that will bring awareness to the fact that there is a Hilton in Vegas in a positive light.  Our approach to get employees involved in social media isn’t to guide them, but take the Zappos approach and let them have their own voice.  We want to find people internally interested in doing social media organically.

    We design promotions and events to get people together – not just to meet us, but to meet each other.  There is a hunger and a need for people to meet each other.  We want to be the connector.

    brandie_feuerBrandie Feuer, Director of Interactive Marketing, Planet Hollywood

    We see social media as a great direct response channel.  But we’re also cognizant of providing value to users.  We do things like give out last minute concert tickets to our followers and promote little things that might not be worth a press release.  Social media rests with PR and our interactive department, however we also encourage others to be a part of the space.  All employees should be empowered, where possible. We want to move towards more of a social business model.

    michael_perhaesMichael Perhaes, Assistant Vice President of Marketing, MGM Grand

    The MGM Grand was late to the social media game compared to competitors on the strip – we finally joined for a few reasons.  The effectiveness of our email marketing was beginning to degrade a bit.  The value of email has diminished in the last few years.  We’ve seen sites like Facebook have taken up that role for many.  We want to put content into social media that may have been ignored in email.  In a few years time, social media will become an even more important network than email for our brand.

    We have high expectations on response for social media as a full-blown marketing channel.  The people that choose to follow us on the social web have affinity for our brand and we want to be able to market to them.

    We have specific pages for some channels, for example we have a separate food and beverage Facebook page for that department since there are people passionate about those items.  We want to engage other departments too.  Most importantly, we want to find ways to make this more meaningful even beyond direct response and reach people interested in Vegas.  We’re creating personas to try to build affinity with people.

    We read (and respond) to posts customers put up on their Facebook page – specifically things like customer complaints – in order to make their next experience better.  It allows that two way communication – if someone complains about their room, we have a way to respond to them immediately.

    As a promotional effort we launched a “confessions campaign” on Twitter where you can Tweet your sins, and there’s a livestream of people tweeting those sins.  Users can vote on sins which are forgivable vs. unforgivable.  The best sins can win a free night.  We’ve done advertising in LA to support it and create more buzz.  The goal is to gain additional awareness on Twitter, gain more followers and experiment.

    bryan_allisonBryan Allison, Vice President, Marketing,

    We identified people internally who were passionate about social media and empowered them to get involved and answer consumer questions.  The entire company is leveraging the social web.  We just launched a campaign called “Vegas Experts Exposed.”  This wasn’t the idea of the marketing department; rather it was the idea of some other employees in the company.  We want everyone to contribute ideas across the company.

    We’ve done things that are both commercial and fun on social channels and we’re continuously surprised with how people interact with the more fun items.  We want to have something that people will look forward to on their live feed.

    We use a mix of “power users” internally for promoting the product, and also customer service representatives talking to customers and alleviate their problems.  There are people internally who are really passionate and want to share their workplace/what they do all day.  We encourage them to do so, however to use common sense and ask first on appropriateness if there is a questions.

    Many of our younger employees are already involved – it’s an opportunity to use them, tap that resource.  They know how to communicate and engage in these channels.  We use them to help the people who may not be as experienced in social media get up to speed.