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Which Hotel Rewards Programs Appeal Most to Hipsters?

May 19, 2016 | Insights

Taken in the lobby of Portland, Oregon’s Ace Hotel, no goofy gag graphic we’d have created was going to be more perfect. Everything we’d want to say is right here.

As we realize — hipster, hipster-in-denial, wannabe hipster, the kind of ol’ fashioned hipster the Beats wrote about, or even someone who has no idea what the hell a hipster is — you may have stumbled upon this entry without quite knowing where you are. Welcome to StatSocial.

What we do here at StatSocial is analyze social media audiences. That means any grouping of individuals you could imagine coming together in a social media context. From a specific company’s or individual’s fans, to those tweeting of a certain topic or employing a certain hashtag, to any conceivable, identifiable grouping that could occur in a social media context.

We scour every corner of the social web to learn as much as humanly possible about the folks in that group. We know who they are, how old they are and in what percentages, we know from where they are, we know what they like and dislike, what they do on the web, what brands they prefer, and so forth.
Recently, we’ve been applying our analysis to the nation’s top hospitality rewards programs. You know, those who reward their most loyal customers with perks or points that can be accumulated and later redeemed for perks?

With this list, we’re looking at which programs most appeal to the individuals we’ve identified as “hipsters”; meaning mostly young urban professionals, but those of a leftward slant, and a tendency for trendiness in dress and habit. They listen to more obscure bands, prefer independent and foreign films (but make certain these facts are known on the internet), live in hipper neighborhoods, favor certain brands and so forth. We are making no judgment call that every marketer in America is not also making so, we feel no guilt over the label.

Starwood’s former CEO Barry Sternlicht effectively innovated the “boutique hotel” chain, with his pre-Starwood company W Hotels. He essentially took the concept pioneered by former Studio 54 co-owner, and billionaire hotelier Ian Schrager — the “boutique hotel”; the overpriced, over-designed hotel that cares not at all about comfort, and theoretically provides a singular as opposed to uniform experience — and brought it to a larger scale.

In fact, he recently acquired from Schrager New York’s Gramercy Park Hotel.

Until the mid-2000s, the Gramercy was a beautiful taste of the Manhattan that once was. Schrager got his hands on it and and turned it into a trendy monstrosity. A bona fide tragedy to those of us who love the New York City that once was. And now Starwood we’re certain will keep alive that dream.

What rewards do they offer? Honestly, there are no hipster jokes left. That’s how tired we are of it all. We could say “beard trimmings,” or “pants tightening” but would you even laugh?

In 2003 a friend of this blog entry’s author, named Robert Lanham, published a book — reminiscent of the early 80s ‘Preppy Handbook’ — called, appropriately enough, ‘The Hipster Handbook’ As promised, the book was an amusing, satirical cataloging of the fashions, customs, language, and habits of what was then this new breed of young person invading his before that time mostly Chasidic and Puerto Rican Brooklyn neighborhood.

Little did he know they’d go on to become a combination of “new media” and tech billionaires, and then inspire generation after generation of Nebraska frat boys to move to New York, wear tight pants, grow a beard and keep the non-culture alive indefinitely

That book is now 13 years old, and the people it lampoons not only still exist, they dominate. However, when the book was published they were poor. That changed.

The reason SPG wins this list is simple. They’re the only of these chains that directly caters to the demographic which would fit the “hipster” description. Their faux boutique hotels are easily the hippest and most “stylish” — according to a very narrow hipster definition — that some corners of this country have to offer.

To learn much more about StatSocial, the curious are encouraged to visit the StatSocial site itself, where you’ll find all sorts of stuff including sample reports.

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