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Use of social media in hospitality industry

The roles of social media in the hospitality and tourism industry to its full extent will be elaborated in this report. The impact of social media in the hospitality industry and the way through which it helps to increase the revenue of the industry are illustrated in this report. For this report the nominated organization is Starwood Hotel and Resorts. Different level of services are offered by the social media sites and the important factors will be analyzed those are needed to perceived the values of the consumers by using the social networking processes for the destination travels are also elaborated in this report. The report will analyze the social media management tools and new social media strategies to increase the grand image of Starwood

Impactof social media in tourism and hospitality industry

In the current communication process, most of the hospitality industries use the social media sites, rather than physical participation of the individuals.  Some of the popular social media sites used by the industries are facebook, twitter, Linked in, Instagram YouTube etc. It has been found that the business organizations that use social media as their medium of communication are capable to deliver news faster than any other industries, because virtual world are rapid than the physical world (Inversini&Masiero, 2014).  With the help of social media sites the users are capable to get electronic mouth references also. The visual impact of the destination on the social media and the internet sites are also accessible by the users. The users of the service can take easy decision, as on a dashboard all the travel offers will be available. It has been found that over 76% of tourists are currently using social media for travelling to their desired destination. On the other hand, trip advisors provide post and reviews regarding their experiences and offers and based on that the consumers can select their desired travelling medium (Kwok & Yu, 2013).The potential travelersnever book any hotel without watching its reviews and most of the reviews are found on the social media pages. Not only this but nowadays certain hospitality industries are there which serves there businesses completely over the internet medium. Even, 70% of global tourism reviews states that usage of internet medium is one of the most trusted form of information sharing between the source and the destination that are the consumer and the owners of the hospitality business (Leung, Bai &Stahura, 2015).Using social media sites for hotel booking is found to be very much beneficial for the consumers all over the world because the traditional forms of advertising are not atall practical. Both the social community and virtual community are useful for the consumers for booking. The impacts of the social media are found to be most because the speed of communication is very high over the internet medium and even people can keep in touch with the other users frequently with the help of the web 2.0 technologies (Law, Buhalis&Cobanoglu, 2014). After immediate discussion on the social media, the users will be able to interact with other consumers to ensure whether the provided offer and the booking price are beneficial for them or not. Not only positive but the hospitality industry can be negatively impacted by the social media.

Social media and social media marketers

According to Xie, Zhang and  Zhang (2014) the social media is a combination or set of internet based technologies, those are created on the ideological and technological foundation of web 2.0 technology. The social media sites allow the users to create and even exchange the content or information with other users very much efficiently. The web 2.0 technology is referred to as a principle and practice of business operation that can facilitate content sharing among the users coming from different location. The users can share their views and experiences with other consumers regardless of their location and the time as well. The content of the web paged of the hospitality industries keep on changing according to the changing demand of the consumers (Minazzi, 2015).  The large and even many start up businesses are also using social media sited for advertising.The aim of the social media marketers is to increase the business revenue by sharing meaningful content among the online consumers. From the marketers perspectives it has been found that there are many marketing tools used collectively by the developers to create and share the content online. Certain examples of the social media are blog posts, photo sharing, video sharing and social networks as well (Hudson et al., 2015). In order to flourish the current culture and the lifestyle of the consumers of hospitality industry, social media act as a vibrant ecosystem rather societal renaissance. Nowadays the hospitality businesses are integrating socialmedia along with their existing marketing efforts to develop the marketing revenue in the competitive marketplace (Cantallops&Salvi, 2014). The role of social media in marketing and business development are as follows:

Development of business models including the social media for the businesses: In order to reach the pre-determined business goals of the hospitality businesses, the business analysts and the management team of the hospitality industries are required to develop strategies business models with social media. An already broken business cannot be fixed up with the help of the social media but can act as a skeleton of the overall business (Bilgihan, Peng &Kandampully, 2014). The number of viewers also increases after the addition of the social media along with the existing business process.

Find the audience: Social media helps to understand the thought of the consumers and based on the demand of the consumers the hospitality industry will be able to build their strategic business model for the overall development of the business organization (Gu& Ye, 2014). After developing an official website forthe business and launching them over the social media, from the number of visitors and likes on the web pages the business owners will come to know about the number of overall audiences regardless of their location.

Define the success of social media inmarketing: Based on the determined goal and objectives of businesses, the successes of social media for business developed are defined from various surveys. If any hospitality industry fails to determine the actual goal then it will fail to achieve market revenue.  Various levels of measurements are there in case of social media success (Orlikowski et al., 2015). The business progress cannot be measured with the help of social media because the traditional matrixes are different from the current measurement matrices.

Goals of online communication

Immediate introduction: With the help of social media sites the business industries can serve their actual identity to the consumers about their actual services and products as well. People, who are not at all aware about the services and products of the business, will get to know about the services, after the organization will build a relationship with the  people over the social media sites. Social media makes the organizations actually real in front of the consumers and also make the consumers familiar with their products and services (Paniagua&Sapena, 2014).From the products and service reviews over the social media sites, other consumers will get to know about the quality of the business organization.

Social media as a suggestive media: Social media is also referred to as a suggestive media to the consumers and to organizational service providers. From the reviews of the consumers, critics and advisors the additional requirement that could drive the business towards immense success can also be gained after the integration of social media with the existing business strategy (Hudson et al., 2016).

Similar to other industries the goals of the hospitality industries are also required to be SMART. Before deciding which tools are effective for business growth, reflection of specific goals and objectives of the marketers are needed to be adapted by the hospitality industry owners. In order to achieve the goal or objectives of the industry effective and measurable goals are needed to be considered by the project developer teams (Sainaghi & Baggio, 2014). If any of the goals are found impossible to reach, then none of the employees of the industry will take that objective seriously during the business development phase. Among the list of goals only the achievable goals are required to be listed by the developers so that during the development phase, no such issue raises. In order to reach the realistic goals, external business factors are needed to be considered by the development team. Within a specified time phase or pre determined time schedule, the target of the businesses are required to be achieved. It is not possible for the managers to motivate their employees alltime; improper goal setting might create alternative issues for the business industry. In order to achieve vast success from the competitive marketplace, the SMART goals are found to be very much effective and beneficial as well (Xiang et al., 2015). All the determined goals lead to three major business achievements. These goals are set by the developer to increase the industrial revenue by reducing the overall cost and improving the level of consumer satisfaction.The online communication goals are as follows:

  • To enhance the brand awareness among the owners and the consumers of the business
  • To increase the overall amount of sales regardless of the business type
  • To impress the consumers or to increase the level of customer satisfaction

In order to enlarge the range of the consumers all over the world social media are required to adapt by the hospitality industry. For overall business development it is necessary for the business organizations to hold satisfied consumers. If the hospitality industry fails to satisfy the consumerswith their services then, it will lead to increase the rate of consumer’s turnover (Scott &Orlikowski, 2014). The more the company informs and educates its consumers the more the customer service will improve and the business will run faster.

In order to achieve high level business success from the marketplace and to grab consumers regardless of the location, the hospitality and tourism industry should measure certain social media goals.The stakeholders of hospitality industry are consumers, sponsors, owners and the team members as well. In order to gain business success, the stakeholder’s goal should have to be contributed by the social media.

Raise awareness regarding the brand: If the consumers are not aware of the brand quality and their services then the entire business might be spinning its wheels. If the consumers become aware of the brand image then, they will be able to interact with others on the same brand over the internet (Nieves &Segarra-Cipres, 2015). As much the brand will be discussed and shared over the social media, its brand image will increase and more frequently it will be recommended from one customer to other customers.

Website trafficking:For selling online products and services to the consumers,to grab more consumers, it is necessary to increase the traffic over the social sites. As much the traffic will increase the rate of selling will also increase. The number of visitor on the official website and from the number of likes given by the visitorswill help to measure the current status of the hospitality business.

Loyalty of the website visitors:After analyzing the brand values of the hospitality businesses it is necessary to measure the loyalty of the consumers. The consumers who spends more time over the official web page will be identifies as one of the loyal consumers (Filieri & McLeay, 2014). Thus it can be concluded that, for the overall business growth, the help and support of social media plays important roles and also contributes a lot to achieve the goal of the consumers.  Moreover, it can be said that long term web strategies will create loyal and frequent website visitors.

social media in hospitality

Figure 1: Use of social media in hospitality industries in percentile

(Source:Park & E. Levy, 2014, pp-334)

Different social media tools are used by the hospitality industries to gain revenue from the marketplace and from marketing. The overall cost for the business will increase and it will be enough time consuming if the industry fails to select the proper marketing tool. Based on the type of the company, the products and services and their invested capital different tools are used for the business growth. Not only this but also before selecting the tools for the business development, the main objective or the goal of the business are needed to be considered by the developers .For managing large, medium and small hospitality businesses, different social media management tools are used by different organizations.

Hootsuite:Hootsuite is used by over 10 million of professionals as a enterprise level social media management tools.  This tool helps the hospitality business to schedule and analyze the social media marketing campaign (Palacios-Marques et al., 2015). In order to create content for social media, Hootsuite serves a number of team tools.

Agora Pulse:Agora Pulse is a schedule or content creator, it helps to create content for facebook, twitter and even for Instagram at a time.For all the three social networks, Agora Pulse has dynamic reports. Not only for creating marketing content, but also in order to run promotional activities, Agora Pulse widely used by the hospitality company. 

Social Oomph:In order to build contents for twitter and facebook over the automated schedules, Social Oomph is found to be one of the most useful social media management tools. It also helps to create welcome notes for twitter. Using facebook and LinkedIn this social media management tools allows the users to schedule photos.

Everypost: For creating different visual contents and to schedule customized posts for the twitter and facebook, this social media management tool is widely used. It also helps to post content from the android phones and iphones.

Sprout social: Sprout social is a complete social media management tool used for the social media agencies (Thomas& Wood, 2014). Even multiple twitter and facebook account holders can also this social media management tools for creating content.

Crowd booster: In order to optimize different social media marketing decision, Crowd booster acts as a social media analytical tools. It helps to make automatic updates of the content and the users are not required to change or update the contents manually. Even for clients this social media management tool is widely used for reporting information and to create custom report.

Tweepi: This social media management tool is used to search the targeted users on Twitter. Not only this but also users can keep on connected to other account holders of twitter.

Secodo: This is another tool that mainly works for LinkedIn and twitter. It helps to guide the users to find for the right lead (Guttentag, 2015). With the help of Secodo, owners of the companies will be able to find out qualified lead to add them along with the sales funnel.

For measuring the influence of social media in hospitality industries, different measurement tools are used by the management authorities. In order to measure stakeholder’s influences, the social media objectives are needed to be determined to understand. Again, whether the objectives are working sufficiently or not for the planned business strategy is also evaluated by the developers. Most of the hospitality businesses look at the social media strategies from the revenue point of views. Besides engagement of social media, its influence, awareness functions, reputation and overall relationship aspects ROI is needed to be considered (Liu et al., 2014). In order to measure the influence of social media tools that are used by the Hospitality industries are segmented into three categories such as –

  • Benchmark or standard of the third party measurement tool
  • Built-in analytics of the existing platform
  • Specific tools needed for the tourism measurement

Among these three tools the build in analytics tools of the existing platform are mostly used in the hospitality industries such as the facebook insights and analytics. It helps the businesses to investigate different KPIs in terms of the number of followers, the level of engagement of the followers, number of comments on the web page, the number of shares and likes over the web page and the number of viewers and the time they have spend on the web page can be measured with the help of this tool. Apart from this, the demographic features of the viewers in terms of their age, gender of the followers can also be determined. As an aspect of consumer engagement, the relationship of the consumers and the influencers are represented as the ability to determine ROI by following a model. For increasing the ability to determine ROI, four steps are follows by the finance department of the hospitality industries such as exposure, engagement, influence and its action Detailed social media strategy for the chosen hospitality business: Starwood.

In spite of the distinction of social media in the current personal as well as professional life of people and its existence with necessity as sales and marketing tools, it is becoming a question within the marketing industry (Starwood-hotels, 2017). The answers are all about the ways, through which, the hospitality industries are getting benefitted from the elements of social industry. The business case implies the entire process, on how Starwood hotels made a profit amount of $2 million, from facebook only.

The main concern of the case is to watch the hard fact which implies that whatever the hotel invested for their business returned back in the bucket with a spade form. In order to engage social media with any hospitality business the main concern raises is the amount of ROI. In most of the cases investment on social media revisit huge ROI.Social media helps hospitality businesses to look, the way, through which their information is shared and their posts on social media are becoming part of important discussion among the viewers.

Among many hospitality businesses Starwood is a well known name which made $2 million from their facebook page. It showed that the activities of social media, boost up Starwood hotels and resorts to make big currency.

Investment Cycle of Starwood Hotel

Figure 2: Investment Cycle of Starwood Hotel

Source:(Starwood-hotels, 2017)

This brand name has collaboration with many active social networks such as facebook, twitter from 2011. In a media conference, an executive of Starwood stated that, around 4 people out of 10 were the initial facebook page followers of Starwood. Twitter bought a large amount from that chain of the hotel and resorts.

The senior executive of Starwood, Mr. Justin Holmerud, created some posts for their facebook page, and after reading those some people become fan of Starwood. In order to make profit he adjured the viewers of Starwood, to move further to become advocates from followers. After that from the facebook fan page, Starwood made a great profit that is around $2 Million.

While working with a marketing company Starwood developed a fan page on Facebook social media. The fan page acted as a central hub that helped the hospitality business to promote the deals from its brands only. Over the facebook network, they were successfully able to attract 250,000 fans, with the help of certain additional target. Due to the different striking offers and deals, Starwood found that most of their fans have started spending 7 to 16 minutes on their facebook fan page network.

Scavengers hunt strategy was one of the most successful strategies developed by Starwood. In this case the users had to unlock a mystery hotel by following some clues provided on the social media such as facebook, twitter pages. Many people were able to solve that puzzle thus; no single user was capable to access the mystery on a daily basis. In other words, there was a rotation for the winning location (Starwood-hotels, 2017). First 10 people who will be able to solve it, used to get amazing offers like weekend holiday package. In addition to this, frequent respond on the complaints and comments of consumers is another positive approach of Starwood. This is the overall situation faced by Starwood to achieve effective respond and profit from social media.

The social media strategy for Starwood hotels and resorts is very much effective but still for gaining more commercial benefit from the competitive market; the existing strategy is required to be improved more considering all the enterpriseperspectives. The development of new social media strategy for Starwood hotel and resort is discussed below.

Social media is one of the most useful and powerful marketing tool. If the developers use this tool correctly then, it will be able to create strong connection along with the personnel and the potential consumers. Most of the times it has been found that without appropriate planning execution of social media strategy will lead to major failure. In order to gain profit, Starwood needs to build clear marketing strategy for their organization. The steps are as follows:

Clear understanding of the business goal:  For any journey the marketers and the development team of the hospitality industry are required to set the goal for their organization first. The objective must include, the social media marketing efforts, social awareness about the brand, sales increasing planning, enhancing the traffic level in the social media page, building consumers loyalty and increase retention. Before improving the existing marketing strategy, clear goal setting is very much important.

Creation of measureable objectives: Based on the marketing goal the developers should build clear measurable SMART objectives. As the B2B marketers of Starwood are focused to enhance the sales, thus they must decide to generate around 80 online additional leads in a month. Then they should increase the number of times, their brand name is mentioned over the social media sites such as on facebook, twitter etc. The business objectives should be achievable and strictly tied up along with the business goals. Even the objectives should be time limited and within 6 months Starwood should focus to achieve at least 50 percent of their measurable.

Winning social media strategy: The hospitality industry should adapt winning social media strategy to find correct tools for tracking and analyzing each and every participant. In order to quantify the progress of business strategy, tracking and monitoring is needed. Thestrategy will help to spot different problems in the early stage and also can correct it efficiently. The developers must develop certain offers rather than the puzzle solving game.   

Characterization of the online consumers: In the project initiation phase, the market should be segmented effectively based on the features of the consumers. The demographic features will help to identify the number of consumers attracted with their offers. The developers must understand the need of the consumers. As the services ofStarwood hotel industry affordable for medium to premium client thus, they must integrate more advertisement with the social media page with the existing one.

Social media strategy

Figure 3: New social media strategy for Starwood Hotel and resorts

(Source: created by author)

Focus on online competitors: Starwood should focus on the number of online competitors. As there are many online hospitality industries those have official social media pages and fan pages page as well, based on their benefits from the market, these other organizations are giving different attractive offers for their consumers. In order to stay above the level of competition, Starwood should focus on media engagement, comments, and shares and like of the consumers. Among these the comments of the consumers are the most important part that must be considered. This approach will help Starwood to select the most promising business objectives.     

Development of the message content: Based on the comments of other hospitality companies, the developers must focus on message content in terms of their blogs, tweet and facebook status as well. The messages must contain simple hierarchy with different levels. Not only this but also, Starwood should create original message, considering other organization’s successful message contents. With the help of this the organization will be able to develop exceptional brand image.

Selection of proper channel: Every social media platform is not similar to one another; Starwood should select the most effective channel that is beneficial for the business success.   For B2B sales Linkedin are the most effective platforms. Pinterest is not at all helpful for Starwood as it mainly focuses on fashion industry contents. None of the relevant channels those are can find out the competitor’s status, should be overlooked. On order to reach the target audience, social media influencers should be identified by Starwood. Appropriate bloggers should be targeted to create good message content.

Building the content plan: This is the final step for new social media development strategies. The content must hold different consumer engaging materials. The content must be relevant to the social media channel that has been selected and should be aligned with the message. The plan should deliver exact and real values to the target audience. In order to engage the potential consumers effectively with the official page of Starwood, instead to sticking up with one type of social media, mixed videos, infographics and guides should also be used by the developers. Moreover fresh and up to date content are needed to be posted by the bloggers. Apart from this crisis management, brand awareness, monitoring, forecasting communities should be engaged to the official website of Starwood Hotel and Resorts.

Social media strategy

Figure 4: Social media strategy for Starwood hotel and resorts

(Source:Leung, Bai&Stahura, 2015, pp-150)

Conclusion                  

From the overall discussion it can be concluded that in the hospitality industry the impact of social media is very much effective. Social media is referred to as one of the most powerful tools for building marketing strategy and also to gain commercial benefit from the competitive marketplace. Social media influences the marketing approach of hospitality industries. The overall impact of different social media sites in hospitality industry and the impact and influence of social media in Starwood Hotel and Resort are also elaborated in this report. Apart from this, online communication goal, different social media management tools, contributions of social media to meet the requirement of the stakeholders are also developed in this report. In addition to this, new social media strategies for Starwood are also elaborated in this paper.

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