I travel frequently, but my partner, and the Founder of Collective Bias John Andrews, is a true road warrior. He must spend as least 200 nights per year in hotels around the country, predominantly Hilton to which he is tremendously loyal. We recently discovered the iPhone app HotelTonight and John was immediately enamored. We used it in NYC that week to get some associates last minute rooms at amazing prices. So in the interest of conserving company capital, John decided to cancel our room in Boston the following evening and wait until the next day while in Boston to use HotelTonight… true to its name, rooms do not get listed until 12noon the day they are available. What John did not think through was why the room we had reserved well in advance was $500. If we had not been traveling without a rest for over 2 weeks we may have thought that through and realized there must have been something going on in Boston… but no, we were going to use this cool new app and save hundreds of dollars.
At this point you clearly know the next part of the story… no hotel rooms available in Boston. NONE, not a single room. We kept checking back and then started resorting to John’s Hilton Diamond membership, my American Express Platinum Concierge, and other associates assorted “exclusive” travel and credit card memberships… NOTHING. We made our way to Cambridge to have dinner with a business partner thinking better to sleep in our car in Cambridge than downtown Boston where we were initially scheduled to meet. We were laughing about it, and certainly being “boys” at heart we knew we could always stay out really late and then catch a few in the car if it really became necessary. We were both exhausted form little sleep over the past few days, but hey… it was just one night.
All of a sudden at 9pm it dawned upon us, duhhhh, we had the most valuable membership for assistance, support and last minute real-time old fashion help… our social networks. I immediately went to Twitter and Facebook declaring our predicament. Now the best part of this story is that the guy we were dining with looked at us like we were crazy. His comment, and he will remain nameless… “why are you wasting your time with that social nonsense, you won’t get any help there. Let’s spend the time doing something productive.” Well talk about an awakening… within minutes we had dozens of responsive tweets and Facebook posts. Local hotels were reaching out and apologizing and offering their networks to search for a room. Facebook and Twitter friends were offering suggestions of where to look and many stepped up and offered their homes. One Twitter follower who I never met face-t0-face, @trenddelacreme, immediately offered her home, told us she lived nearby in Cambridge, and came to meet us at the bar where we were hanging our hats while searching (@trenddelacreme: @TedRubin You can crash at our place in Cambridge.). Hilton Hotels, many of whose social team apparently follow me, immediately reached out from two different teams, scoured the city, and within an hour we had a room at a Hilton Hotel.
The love and support that poured out from the social world was heart warming, invigorating, and a case study in the power of remote social connection, relationships, friendship and crowdsourcing.
Here is a sampling of the Facebook outreach…