Gaylord Palms Hotel in Orlando

Every December, the famous Gaylord Palms Hotel outside of Disney World in Orlando, Florida hosts a miraculous array of ice sculptures in a visual experience they call "Ice!". I have attended three of the last four years and thoroughly enjoy walking through a painfully cold area (9 degrees) looking at some of the most advanced sculptural art you're ever going to see.

Since I have had the pleasure of attending a number of times over the year, it has been fun to watch it grow and evolve into the massive presentation and tourist attraction it is today.

This year, the change that was most interesting to me was the adoption of a Foursquare powered "Scavenger Hunt" where you'd have to find polar bear dolls that were scattered throughout the entire hotel. Since we have done (and still do) similar campaigns at Endagon, I was intrigued and knew I needed to take part in the hunt to see how it was executed.

The Pros

  1. The game increased the level of engagement in the hotel.
  2. The game seemingly increased the amount of time spent in the hotel. This leads to more food, drink, and merchandise sales.
  3. The game provoked most Ice! visitors to at least check out the rest of the hotel.

The Cons

  1. Those that were not tech-savvy were confused with the instructions of the game.
  2. Not everybody had a smartphone to play.
  3. It's physically impossible to check in to Foursquare when you're wearing gloves.
  4. Foursquare didn't prohibit cheating. Anyone could check into any of the polar bears' locations at any time.
  5. The game only featured 3 polar bears, when in reality, there were almost 10 around the hotel. This caused confusion.
  6. The rules did not consist of the entrant "sharing" their findings. Big marketing opportunity missed here.
  7. When the user was finished, you had to download the QR Reader application. Weird.
  8. Instead of tracking the entrants via online activity (hashtags or @ mentions), the rules insisted that people show their phones to the front desk of the hotel.
  9. At the end of everything, I still don't know how to enroll. The front desk didn't scan nor check my phone. They just gave me another pamphlet to look at.

All in all, while this idea was superb and I give the hotel credit for implementing it, the experience left a lot to be desired.

Next year, I strongly encourage the hotel to enlist a "campaign manager" that tracks the scavenger hunt's activity during operating hours and engages with players online at all times.

If I knew there was someone listening on the other end, I would have asked some questions that would have allowed me to understand the rules a little better. All the while, I would have been sharing my actions of this fun game with all of my friends, who in turn, would undoubtedly want to come to Ice! and play the game for themselves.