It was the summer of ’14, and we wanted to get out of our sandbox. So instead of simply selling ourselves as another beachfront hotel, we dug deeper to design our ‘Beach. Love. Happiness.’ campaign guest engagement campaign– a ‘surprise and delight’ effort geared toward delivering exceptional guest experiences by sharing genuine local knowledge.

To set our beachfront properties apart in their markets, while improving online reputation, we hired a dozen young and energetic Local Hosts, who circulated six hours each day during peak times engaging our guests. They played games with visiting children, hosted fun activities and performed service recovery when necessary. In one shining moment, a Local Host who witnessed a seaside marriage proposal offered to take photos, then surprised the happy couple with champagne and rose petals in their room.

In advance of the campaign launch, the marketing team built strategic partnerships with vendors in each destination to provide our guests with coupon books for local experiences including paddle boarding, jet ski rentals, Segway tours, pedicab rides, surfing lessons, scuba diving lessons, snorkeling, helicopter rides, dolphin tours, family portraits, restaurant meals and spa treatments. During conversations with guests, Local Hosts provided ‘in-the-know’ advice and handed out coupons based on their interests.

While helping vacationers make memories, Local Hosts encouraged them to post photos and videos on social media. Our in-house marketing agency tracked user generated content via hashtag, choosing each day’s best posts to brand with the ‘Beach. Love. Happiness.’ logo and share on our hotel Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr pages.

Not only did all the user generated content provide interesting photography and an effortless stream of User Generated Content for social media, it also deepened relationships with our guests, who felt excited that we acknowledged them and shared their work on our hotel digital platforms.

Better yet, people who visited our social media sites enjoyed content from real people sharing relatable moments – which resonates more than the same post from a savvy marketing team. It also taught us a lot about what our guests like, and how they want to spend their time with us.

The ‘Beach. Love. Happiness.’ campaign supported Innisfree Hotels’ company motto of ‘Creating Fun and Memorable Experiences,’ amplifying those experiences on social media to generate brand exposure, build customer loyalty and generate higher traffic to our local websites – increasing our percentage of web direct bookings during the hotel’s busy season.

We saw more guest engagement on-property and online, resulting in greater guest satisfaction and fewer negative reviews.

So we spread a little beach love, and it led to more happiness. It’s as simple as that.