Social media monitoring is no longer merely an additional, nice-to-have component of a hotel’s Revenue Strategy and marketing plan.
It has now been well documented that social media’s impact on hotels is massive and must become part and parcel of a hotel’s marketing and even business development strategies and processes.
In a 2016 TNS Global marketing monitoring survey through 11 countries in Asia-Pacific, it was revealed that social media is now the top element guiding brands’ planning process and is the top metric used to measure the performances of marketing campaigns.
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Social media insights have now overtaken more traditional metrics such as market share data and brand tracking to become the most popular component used by marketers. According to TNS Global’s survey, the top five metrics informing planning in order are social media monitoring, market share data, brand tracking, competitor tracking, and finally information from media agencies.
The study also highlighted that the top mandate for marketing departments these days is customer relationship management and not the traditional aim of increasing brand awareness. It said the “end-to-end customer experience is now top priority.”
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Social media and hotels’ performance metrics
The writing was already on the wall. A paper written back in 2012 by Professor Chris Anderson of Cornell University on “The Impact of Social Media in Lodging Performance” already showed clear indicators. According to the paper, a one-point increase on TripAdvisor’s (widely considered the most dominant social media review travel site) review scores on a five-point scale can increase hotel rates by 11.2% and still maintain the same occupancy or market share. A 1% increase in the hotel’s online reputation score leads up to 0.89% increase in price measured by a hotel’s ADR. A 1% increase in reputation also leads to increases of up to 0.54% in occupancy and 1.42% in RevPAR.
A more recent study, conducted by Local Measure over 16 months and with 75 hotels and 56,000 of their customers, showed that hotels that engage with their guests during the stay — and not just before and after the stay — get higher guest return rates.
“On the service recovery side we see hotels responding on social media to promptly resolve an issue or even a minor complaint. The power here is when it is done in real time,” said Jonathan Barouch, chief executive officer and founder of Local Measure. “And on the advocacy side, we see hotels acknowledge special occasions, respond to provide tips and local suggestions, or even personalising the offline experience by taking note of the interests of the guests online.”
Local Measure found that the most loyalty is generated when the engagements are genuine, personal, and recognise the individuality of the guests.
Social media and hotels’ pricing power
Hotels must now see that for their customers, travel these days will likely involve using social media — before they travel for purposes of planning, and during and after their trip to share experiences and provide feedback. The proliferation of travel review and sharing sites is certainly testament to this trend.
As such, if engaged appropriately, social media can be hotels’ best tool to gain better customer engagement and accrue huge benefits.
According to Tim Tan, Duetto’s Asia-Pacific regional director of solutions engineering, below are some benefits hotels are already beginning to see:
- Consumers are more willing to pay more for hotels that are rated higher than others on social media sites like TripAdvisor.
- Through social media reviews and comments, hotels can identify and rectify service issues and could even help justify hardware improvement investments.
- Social media reviews and ratings help hotels validate, in a very transparent manner, their true competitors, as well as reveal how hotels are truly ranked within their competitive set, which may end up looking very different from how hotels imagine their rankings to be.
While it could be argued that perhaps very few guests actually have equal knowledge of all hotels in the set to be qualified to make a true and unbiased comparison, it is likely that when various perspectives are aggregated, they actually become a good representation of how the hotels are performing. This is especially so for chain hotels who could add on a higher premium solely on the basis of brand association. Using social reviews and ratings, hotels can decide if their price positions are in line with their true value proposition.
All said, it is evident that social media sites contribute greatly to a more transparent marketplace, ensuring that hoteliers price competitively, according to the value they provide. This, and consumers’ need to share, will continue to fuel significant usage of hotel social media sites in the foreseeable future.