STAMFORD, CT: Aloft Hotels, a Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide brand, has put a new spin on the RFP process by inviting PR agencies to pitch for its business via Twitter.
The “RFTweet” process kicked off late Monday afternoon on Twitter, with the brand asking “A-list #PRpros who do more than talk the talk” to participate in the review, which will include a series of questions over the next four weeks. Agencies are asked to use the hashtag #PitchAloft to get involved, and if the hotel brand is interested, it will reply.
Aloft decided to launch RFTweet because it “caters to the next generation of travelers,” and it needs an innovative agency to cut through all the clutter, said Paige Francis, VP of marketing for Starwood's Specialty Select Brands, via email.
“You can learn a lot about an agency in 140 characters or less,” she added, “and with how quickly traditional and social communications have been merging and how all of our attention spans are shortening, we need a partner that is to the point, but clever and attention-getting when making their point.”
Porter Novelli, which is taking part in the process, tweeted to Aloft, “RIP the RFP. Long live the #RFTweet.”
PMK-BNC tweeted “let the countdown begin – we're on the lookout for question 1!”
Motion PR, Walker Marketing, Havas PR, Lou Hammond & Associates, and Allison+Partners, among others, have tweeted to Aloft to get involved in the review. So have MCA Public Relations, the Zimmerman Agency, Blaze PR, and Carolyn Izzo Integrated Communications.
Once the Twitter competition is over, Francis said the brand will do traditional meetings with the final agencies to get to know them and see if they feel chemistry.
The brand has been carefully monitoring and tracking the Twitter page to keep all of the responses organized and to engage agencies, she explained.
Aloft, which has nearly 800 followers on Twitter, is looking for an agency to help it build brand awareness and execute strategic initiatives. The company also wants a firm that is “passionate” about travel and hotels, as well as its target audience's interests of music, design, and technology, Francis said.
She said the brand and its individual hotels around the world have worked with agencies in the past, but they are always looking to expand the network “with the best and the brightest.”
The brand did not have a formal PR agency partner before this, and Francis declined to disclose budget information.
More than 20 agencies indicated they want to participate in the review as of 3 pm EST Thursday. The first RFP question will be posted on Twitter later Thursday, said Francis.
In addition to Aloft, Starwood owns Westin, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, The Luxury Collection, W Hotels, St. Regis, Le Méridien, and Element by Westin.