No such thing as too many tweets? Have we got a hotel for you! According to a recent article in The New York Times, the first “Twitter experience hotel,” Sol Wave House, debuted this summer in Majorca, Spain. Guests can ping requests to a “Twitter concierge” using hashtags like #fillmyfridge; flirt from poolside Bali beds by tweeting numbers printed atop the beds, like “How’s it going #balibed10?”; and sip cocktails while checking their smartphones for a live feed of virtual conversations emanating from every corner of the hotel.
Meliá Hotels International, which owns more than 350 properties, including Sol Wave House, is pioneering the concept as it rides the wave of popularity of smartphones and social networking. And with 1.3 billion people worldwide now using social networks (approx. 82% of the global Web population), that’s some humongous wave.
Though Sol Wave House was already in existence, the Twitter theme is new. “The social night-life scene is significant, so we already had a ripe environment that we were looking to augment,” Tony Cortizas, vice president for global brand strategy of Meliá, told The Times. “The clientele coming in are younger,” he said. According to the Pew Research Center, people in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 29 are the most likely to use Twitter, making a Twitter-themed hotel a smart, targeted way to speak to that demographic.
And what services does this demographic want? A Twitter concierge that guests can instruct via tweet to “Get the Cava on ice” followed by “1 bottle, 4 glasses to the solarium,” as one Sol Wave House visitor did last month. Or images of mustaches on mirrors in the rooms, with instructions encouraging guests to tweet goofy photos of themselves. Or how about Friday afternoon pool parties announced by hashtag (#twitterpoolparty) to summon the young and the restless.
To create a measure of privacy, the article states, all virtual interactions take place within an internal community available only to guests through an app and the hotel’s free Wi-Fi. Upon signing in with their personal Twitter accounts, guests can see who else is online, and send virtual kisses to one another.
“In our business,” Mr. Cortizas said, “rooms are rooms and suites are suites, but in the end it’s about what you are doing to deliver an experience to a customer. We were looking to do something that would differentiate us…something that would be kind of fun.” The hotel bills itself as the first to create such an immersive Twitter getaway, putting it among a handful of properties that are embracing glued-to-your-smartphone experiences.
And Twitter’s not alone—Facebook is also being plumbed to attract travelers. Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel enables guests to instantly update their Facebook status by swiping their fingers on sensors located around the grounds.
Up for debate is whether Meliá (or its competitors) will create more Twitter hotels, or perhaps other social resorts. The Instagram-inspired 1888 Hotel recently opened in Sydney with an “Insta-Walk” map of the area and a promotion: Instagram users with more than 10,000 followers receive a free night.
Even Mr. Cortizas seemed unsure of the expansion prospects of Twitter hotels. “If I was trying to replicate it, I’m not sure it’s lightning in a bottle or not,” he said. “This is something that has some legs, but how long this is going to be relevant and interesting to the customer remains to be seen.”
Yet for the foreseeable future, says The Times, the Twitter hotel is #heretostay.