How do you attract young, adventurous travelers? Try giving them something they can’t get from the other hipster hotel down the road — a social network where they can connect with other travelers prior to their arrival.
That’s exactly what The Pod Hotel did last January. Labeling themselves as “Great for Stylish & Spend-Thrifty Travelers,” the renamed hotel (formerly Pickwick Arms) set up a new website where those with reservations could go to connect with other guests prior to their arrival. Guests can invite others to “Drink With Me,” “Eat With Me,” “Shop With Me,” or “Go Out With Me.”
Their new name and site hit the hipness bulls-eye and their new way of offering their social crowd more social outlets reinforces that.
What’s surprising is that the hotel doesn’t do much to promote this on their website. The only reference I found to PodCulture was a small call-to-action on the home page that led to a Gallery. Then on two pages in, I found this copy:
You can also plug into the Pod community before you even arrive on our customized PodBlog. Swap stories, trade itineraries and ideas, and get to know your fellow Pod mates.
So maybe they’re just banking on it being a Lucky Strike extra once your reservations are confirmed. And that seems to be the case as a rep from the agency noted that the target audience tends to be skeptical of marketing.
That bonus appears to be working. The creative agency who developed the site for The Pod, 321 Worldwide, claims the new social network added an additional 40 percent revenue to the hotel’s bottom line the first year it was launched.
David Bernstein, general manager of the Pod Hotel, stated in an article that he’s seen more people meeting up in the lobby or upon check in.
Pod Hotel seems to be fairing well with it’s guests these days. It rates four stars on TripAdvisor. Though after sifting through the reviews, I found no specific comments about PodCulture. So I’m not sure how much the reviews relate to their experience before they arrived at the hotel (e.g. interacting with fellow travelers via PodCulture) or once they were there. The one thing I did see consistently was appreciation of the free wi-fi throughout the hotel, including in guestrooms.
One reviewer on TripAdvisor stated, “During my 4-day stay, I had seen tons of young hotel guests gathering in the lobby. I never used the area myself but can imagine it would be a great meeting point.”
So how are travelers hearing about PodCulture? And if they aren’t, are they just booking on name and look hipness factor alone?
Maybe they should take advice from Chris Brogan. This frequent traveler and blogger also has some suggestions for hotels.
For a “hostel” with shared bathrooms, the Pod Hotel has found a way to compete with the trendy boutique hotels that NYC is known for. Reminds me of traveling in Europe where you meet people from all over who are eager to chat and share travel stories over dinner.
I can see how this would be pretty sweet when traveling to a conference. Would you log on and connect with guests prior to your arrival?
Sarah Jo Sautter