Social Media today is not distinct from our real life; it is our real life. It is as real as the places we visit, hotels we stay in, restaurants we dine at or even the airline we choose to fly with. The social circles can be created on websites like Facebook, Google+, Twitter and even mobile applications like Foursquare. More often than not they will beat the number of people forming your social circle in real life.
However, the hospitality industry was initially slow in recognizing that social media was now the platform for consumer’s voice and opinion, which could be read, heard and believed by anyone, anywhere in the world. Initially many hotels did not pay any heed to queries or guest reviews on social media. Since then the industry has come a long way and embraced social media like it was waiting for a renaissance to happen. Today, from major hotel chains to local cafes they are all harnessing the power of social media via Facebook, Twitter etc.
Social Media continues to grow exponentially. It has not only become a critically important medium to interact with customers but also an integral part of the marketing and communications strategy. The major concerns raised in the hospitality industry is on what basis does one interact with customers without giving them an experience of their property or why should a popular hospitality property/chain be even bothered about being on social media considering the brand name that it holds, what would be the return on investment?
Answer to all of the above is “Experience Sharing”, which needs to be optimized and spread via social media. Consumers want to experience the brand either by themselves or through the eyes of others. Just being a brand name in the industry doesn’t help, if the perception customers hold about you doesn’t match up. These experiences and perceptions are the pull for any consumer to visit your property.
Internet along with social media can provide a natural extension to this in the form of e-commerce and social commerce thus providing a direct response to your ROI. Social media is the eye with which the world can see or discuss positive and negative opinions and these opinions impact your prospective and loyal customers too.
When people research for hotels, restaurants, other services; they go deep enough to make sure they not making a bad investment. They search for ratings, pictures, videos and user content to get an impression about the property. They check with their friends on social networks for recommendations.
Word of mount has a whole new meaning and its called social media. The key is to create a conversation with your customer is by sharing testimonials and real photos, not photo-shopped photos. Do this right and you would never need to make any “offers”.
We look at opportunities various platforms social media provides the hospitality and how it can be leveraged rightly.