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Hotels going Social to seek loyal patrons

Hotels have seemingly been ahead of the marketing curve, well, forever.

In the Wild West, hotels sprouted up on dust-bitten Main Streets to accommodate that “lonesome stranger” who couldn’t bear another night with his bedroll spread across the rocky prairie.

When Greta Garbo uttered the famous phrase “I just want to be alone” in the 1930s movie spectacular “Grand Hotel,” it was part of a sweeping vision of hotels in the era – to provide privacy amid the madding crowds on the streets.

Hotels innovated when telephones came along, cable TV, and hard-wired and wireless internet service; with room service, vibrating beds,express checkout and in catering to the needs of children, families and pets (most pet-friendly hotels featuring a strategically placed grassy knoll).0405Loy-Trump-300x157

So is it any wonder that hotels are, today, at the forefront of the social media revolution – reaping great success in using the allure of cutting-edge technology to lure yet another generation of visitors? (Though, admittedly, Marshall Dillon never slept in a bed as elegant as the one shown here at Trump SoHo-New York)

Hotels have begun offering direct bookings through Facebook and smartphone apps – banking on the convenience and direct contact to bring back travelers from online travel agencies which, after all, have no inbred loyalty save for the affinity to the lowest-priced vendor.

“We want to be there when someone transforms the recommendations of their friends into booking a reservation,” David Godsman, VP for global Web services for Starwood Hotels told the New York Times recently. “If they press the ‘Like’ button, we want to start a conversation.”

He said he viewed his company’s Facebook pages as a way to extend Starwood’s relationship with its customers “from the 10 days they stay with us, to all year long.”

Starwood has Facebook pages for 1,000 hotel properties across its nine brands. Hotels need to make sure that their booking engines can be found wherever the customer is, rather than asking the customer to search them out, added Glenn Withiam, a spokesman for Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration.

Phone apps are just the latest craze in the industry (and will surely be supplanted in a day, a month or a year by the next hot-button fad). mobile travel-marketing features. Looking for travel directories, custom search engines and websites? Build your own travel platform to access more than 5,000 search engines & mobile directories.

And, because you can access and 0405-PhoneAppImage-300x140update from anywhere, on the fly, online content management lets you see updated seasonal rates, content and images instantly – not to mention specials, packages and shopping options.

Axses’ direct marketing channels include Google Android, Google Shopping, Facebook pages, social media and Web2.0 travel pages like HubPages, Squidoo, WetPaint and hundreds of entrant travel marketing sites.

It’s a long way from Dodge City, to be sure: The only “Boot HIll” is the pile of them waiting outside your hotel room door to be shined, and the only “Tombstone” is the pizza Room Service has waiting besides.