With 2.3 billion active users on social media, it is no surprise when 91 per cent of retail brands actively use two or more social media networks for their business, and the hospitality industry should be no different. Social Media has had its effect on almost every industry, including hospitality and travel. It has become a primary mode of propagation of any kind of promotional offers, news, advertisement, blogs or brand reviews for that matter. Thus, hospitality too cannot ignore social media as a non-serious platform to reach customers and milk it to extract business. Especially millennial travelers are using social media like never before. The extent to which travelers are flocking to social media channels to check and plan their trips; it has become imperative for hotels to be present at the right time, on the right page to become an option in their prospect’s eyes and increase their hotel revenue.
The statistics backing social media explosion have left hoteliers with little choice other than to accept and adapt. If Facebook data is to be believed, 87% of online users are reportedly influenced in their hotel decision making by the online social presence of their prospective choice with 57% of all travel reservations apparently made via the internet.
Let us see how social media provide umpteen opportunities to hoteliers to grow their business.
Social Media; a virtual market
As stated, earlier that almost half of the world is on social media now, Facebook being the most popular with 1.86 billion active users followed by other popular channels like Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. The presence of so many people online virtually creates a market where brands can sell their products and services. Hotels need to pump up their digital presence across all major social media channels to stay updated and relevant to the audience. A hotel lacking behind in social strategy may be considered un-contemporary and may have potential chances of being overlooked while prospect makes booking online. Therefore, it becomes imperative for brands to have their social presence upright on all social media platforms disseminating consistent brand messaging and exhibiting features of their property.
Social Media; a competition-monitoring platform.
Doing business now is not just knowing what your customer thinks about your property & service, now it also extends to knowing what the consumers like about your competitor and what is your USP over your competitor’s. Customer feedback on various review websites and social media platforms can help you prepare counter mechanisms timely to tackle competitive moves. Social media is also a vital tool for competition monitoring and for comparing your competitor’s strength and weakness with yours. Brands can improvise from what their competitors have been doing wrong and have an edge over them at all times.
Social Media; a customer reviews and service platform
Social media now plays a role of the effective online review platform by listing the experience voiced by the customer after and during the stay. Customers are actively using social media channels to get a prompt response to their complaints. Brands are very possessive about their online reputation management, and thus take utmost diligence in handling online guest reviews, especially negative reviews. There are numerous instances where bad reviews spread like fire and inflict serious injuries to brand image.
Some of the brands have even started utilizing social media channels like Facebook messenger as a customer service tool, Hyatt being the pioneer in the list. Customers can directly message the brand using Facebook messenger without having to follow the brand. This creates a one to one prompt communication between the brand and the customer, bypassing obstructions like IVR and long waiting queues.
Social Media; an advertisement and offers platform.
Social Media has emerged as one of the most credible, affordable and realistic advertisement platforms in recent time with a myriad of advantages over other forms of advertising. Social Media has extended the power of advertising to brands of all sizes since it is extremely affordable as compared to other facets of paid advertising like print media, television and search engine advertising, etc.
Social media is the best platform to disseminate any running offers. Higher the following of the brand page, more number of people instantly get to know about offers the brand may have rolled out. Brands can provide a hyperlink in their postings to redirect traffic to the brand’s own website and ultimately increase direct bookings.
Social Media; a relationship-building platform
Not only engaging the present guests, but also maintaining a continual relationship with the past guests can yield fruitful results in the long run. Social media lets you do this for free by engaging your past audience in the form of guest feedback surveys and polls. Brands can also ask previous customers to share their experiences on social channels. This strategy works two folds since it not only engages past customers, but also let prospects read beautiful experiences shared by past customers.
All these factors establish the unprecedented role of social media is playing in the hospitality business landscape. No hotel can hope to survive without having a comprehensive social media strategy that not only supports sales, but also assists in building brand image giving a clear edge over competitors.