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Radisson Edwardian, which operates several hotels around the UK, has been running some innovative social media campaigns recently. 

These include adding QR codes to its menus, which send users to videos of dishes being prepared, as well as a new Foursquare campaign offering late checkouts. 

I've been speaking to Radisson Edwardian's E-commerce Manager Amy Clarke, as well as Aalia Walker from I Spy, the agency behind these campaigns. 

Why place QR codes in menus ? 

The reason we used the QR codes on our menus was that we had a lot of video content – on our YouTube channel, promoted through Facebook and Twitter. 

It was I Spy’s idea to take that experience offline and turn it into something useful for diners, as well as to appeal to people who haven’t been introduced to our social media channels. 

It has been a useful tool for our waiters too, and they have been able to prompt people who chose the highlighted dish that they could see the video of it being prepared by our chefs. 

We didn’t want to bombard every diner with it, though it was clearly promoted on the menu itself. 

How well has it worked? Have many diners used it? 

We found that a lot of people were tech and social media savvy, and a surprising number of people picked up on it quickly. 

The numbers that used the codes is in the thousands across the group, but this is a useful exercise on engagement. 

Do you involve staff in your social media promotions? 

Yes, we have a ‘Hotel Champions’ scheme, where we asked for people from each hotel to put themselves forward to promote our social media activities. 

We meet with these ‘champions’ once a month to discuss ideas about getting guests involved with our social media channels. 

Some have been speaking to guests about social media, while we have tried to make hotels more interactive with guests using Facebook Places, while these social media champions have been writing guest posts for our blog. 

You incorporated TripAdvisor reviews recently, how has this worked out? 

We were one of the first hotels to incorporate TripAdvisor reviews onto the site, about six months ago. 

People look at these reviews anyway, so it makes sense to provide the information for visitors on our site. 

Since introducing this, we’ve found that the average time on site has increased, while we’ve experience better conversion rates. 

What was the thinking behind Check In, Check Out Later? 

This was the result of picking up on a trend – we’re seeing more and more checkins by people visiting our hotels, so the team came up with this idea. 

It’s just a way of rewarding check ins by letting the check out a couple of hours later. 

How do you measure your social media activity? 

We look at various factors, including the buzz created on social media sites. For example, the Check in campaign has generated more than 800 mentions on Twitter in the past week or so. 

There are other things we will look at as well, but these campaigns haven’t been going long enough to judge yet. 

We had no social media presence until recently, and these campaigns, and getting staff to use social media has helped to increase our following quickly. 

We now have 12,385 Facebook fans, 7,450 Twitter followers, 243,508 YouTube video views, and 645 blog subscribers. 

What else do you have planned? 

We’ll continue to look at how we can use social media to improve the experience for our guests, and promote our hotels. 

For example, we have a lot of original art works in our hotels, so we plan to add QR codes to give background information on these for our guests. 

What are you doing around mobile? 

We launched a mobile site recently, and we’re also looking at ways we can use apps. We don’t want to launch an app for the sake of it, we want it to be useful for our customers. 

Is it a transactional site? Have many people booked through it? 

Yes, it’s only been live for about a month, but so far, 6% of bookings in this period have come through the mobile site. 

Graham Charlton

Published 5 July, 2011 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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