The Importance of Social Media in the Hospitality Industry

The Importance of Social Media in the Hospitality Industry

Mar 31, 2015 | 8:00 am

You have probably noticed by now the tendency for hotels, resorts, and even local attractions to frequently update their Facebook or Pinterest pages. This is not just because all of their friends are on Facebook, nor is it because they’re dying to show off their latest fashions. They are taking more interest in social media because over the past ten years it has been proven as an effective means of advertising, one that is cost-efficient and highly effective in branding.

The advantages of social media are in increasing customer interaction, which leads to brand loyalty and recognition. While almost everyone has a website, not everyone has that all-important engagement. Particularly not, if they do hinder a community-centered approach, as they can facilitate by producing viral content and audience discussion. The trend is so obvious that smart companies are going well beyond a Facebook page; they are developing mobile apps just for their tablet-holding public. They are coming up with strategies on how to keep customers engaged about the product and company.

The Cons of Social Media Are Not Cons, but Realities

One of the first criticisms of social media was that customers given the right of free speech could say something critical about the company. This is not necessarily a con, but a reality of business. Hoteliers, for the most part, are not reacting to negativity with negativity. Instead, they are using social media to further enhance their reputation by addressing complaints openly. This shows viewers that the company values the buyer-seller relationship, and goes a long way in restoring peoples’ confidence in the brand.

A study by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Wendy Lim, reasoned that social media was indeed less expensive than traditional PR and based on results, hotel and resort companies should relegate 25% of their time towards social marketing. One other study quoted in the report by Mzinga and Babson Executive Education, 2009, revealed another startling and telling fact about the industry at large; at least 80% of professionals do not take into account the ROI for their social media programs.

Blogs Are Becoming the Best Links

Additionally, blogs are growing in popularity, and social media pages can link to blog content for mutual traffic exchange. One of the latest algorithm changes from Google is centered on rewarding the companies that have active social pages. Google’s network of sites also means higher traffic possibilities, as Blogspot, Google Plus and Google search are all owned by the same parent company. Blogs, by the way are still very popular even at the corporate level. In Asia-Pacific territories, 50% of Global 100 companies are blogging, compared to the U.S. 35% and Europe’s 25%. Blogging and social sharing are quickly becoming the most effective back-linking strategies.

This should indicate the importance of a formal education, which trains social media “gurus” on what they should be doing, what their objectives include, and how to tell if any of this is actually contributing to profit and growth. As we all know, unplanned and unguided social networking is the epitome of wasted time. A business has to have a plan.