Why Social Media Matters
Social media has had a tremendous impact on, not only the hospitality industry, but virtually all businesses across the globe. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have transformed interpersonal communication and provided a new means for consumers to connect and interact with the brands they patronize. The medium is here to stay and has proved to be not a fad as some would argue. But just why it is so imperative for hotels; to not only have a social media presence, but be actively engaged; isn’t always clear to hoteliers struggling with return on investment. A recently released study by PhoCusWright called “The State of Social Media in Travel” sheds some light on social media’s importance to the hospitality industry.
Social media marketing cannot be thought of in a traditionally rigid, direct sales approach. One of the major findings of the new PhoCusWright research is the fact that over 70 percent of travel companies with an Internet booking engine on Facebook receive less than 5 percent of all their bookings from the platform. Furthermore, 64 percent gather less than 1 percent of their direct bookings from Facebook, which is the most popular social channel. Clearly, direct sales is not where social media’s significance lies for the hospitality industry. Measuring every click a potential hotel customer makes on any social channel, leading to a direct transaction, will not yield much in the way of return on investment numbers.
What is significant for hotels is the fact of their guest’s presence across a spectrum of social media networks. These hotel customers are on their favorite social platforms talking about their travel experiences with their friends and sharing photos. They are going on review websites and sharing their thoughts, both positive and negative, regarding their hotel stays. They are looking for and expecting to find the presence of their favorite brands, including hotels and other travel related companies, on social media. The traveling public seeks a connection with the hotel brands they love as they engage with them. Additionally, travelers like to plan their trips around reading reviews and comments from other travelers.
These statements are all supported by and revealed in the new PhoCusWright study. According to their research, Facebook is still the most favored social network by far, at 80 percent with U.S. respondents, for travelers to share their experiences. However many other platforms are gaining usage as well. Over 30 percent of all travelers post to social networks during their travels. While nearly that many are looking for travel related deals on those platforms. As far as connecting with travel related brands, nearly one out of every five “like or “follow” travel brands on their social networks.
Social media matters to the hospitality industry because it is where their customers are present, seeking to connect with and be engaged by hotels as a travel destination. If hotel brands, both large and small, are not to be found on social channels the conversation will go on without them. In the next few parts of this series we will explore ways for hotel brands to most effectively leverage social media and achieve their objectives for the medium.
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