Looking forward to the New Year we can hardly escape them: our New Year’s Resolutions and Predications for 2011.
Skipping the first, this year will be in summary for Social Media in the Hospitality Industry the year of Convergence, Integration and Social Commerce, while online privacy will become (even more of) an issue.
There will also be the “Big Divide” between hotel companies who “get” social media and others who invest in it for the wrong reasons, either due to a lack of understanding or failing commitment. Without any doubt in 2011 hotel companies are planning to invest more in internet and social media marketing, as they move to full implementation and integration. Great you might think, but many hotel companies are expanding budgets for social media marketing not because they have been successful at it, but because they are relying on a hunch and because my competitor is “doing it”.
Social media sites have matured and make no mistake, social media is a marathon and expensive – both in actual (ad) spent and in the (labour) cost. Now, more than ever, marketers need a clear plan and strategy for social media. The ROI or better the ROE (Return on Engagement – see my previous post) question is critical to resolve and I expect 2011 will make big strides in this respect.
Underneath I listed some of my thoughts for your comments:
- Hotel Companies will foster a broad(er) Engagement. Social media touches Marketing, PR, Sales, Customer Service, HR and IT. We will see more and more integrations that will result in cross-functional Social CRM dashboards. Cross-posting updates to Facebook and Twitter and measuring the number of clicks will not suffice. Hotel marketers will need to focus on content marketing, storytelling, and understanding that social media is not about selling, but engagement in creating a community with meaningful relationships.
- Companies will integrate Social Feedback into their Decision Making Process. Websites dedicated to guest reviews will increase their dominance – controversial or not.. Hotel companies will go beyond using social channels for building awareness and providing support and use the information to support strategic decisions and execute on the objectives.
- Tying Social Media Metrics to actual Business Goals: Despite 2010 being a year filled with ROI discussions, most hotels still have no clue how to meaningfully measure ROI. Metrics will evolve beyond counting ‘likes’ and comments.
- Convergence with Traditional Media: Traditional media will remain the main channel of communication for hotels, while social and other digital channels penetrating fast into their territory. Traditional media will transmit the comprehensive story to a wider range of customers, while social media will emerge as the channel of reaching highly targeted audiences and keeping them engaged.
- Growth of Social E-Commerce and F-Commerce: Overwhelmed by information, new opportunities lie in turning information into insight for (potential) guests making smarter buying decisions. Social media is a digital word of mouth, whilst online shopping continues to grow, becoming a mainstream practice across generations. Especially Facebook will help hotel marketers prove how closely social media can be tied to sales with the possibility of campaigns and the development of dedicated Facebook stores. Will Twitter go that route too?
- (Short term?) Growth of Private Sales / Member-Only websites: Unlike last-minute sales, the members-only deals generally offer a longer travel window. Many luxury hotels will have an issue with discounting their brand. However, the sheer size of the audience of especially Groupon, besides the likes of Jetsetter, Voyageprive and Expedia’s Sniqueaway makes them hard to entirely disregard. Hotels do like the membership requirement, as generally these rates do not appear in online searches or aggregator sites, while creating the opportunity for a repeat guest. However, in my opinion hotel marketers should focus more on investing on their own direct online channel and do their maths. It might be worthwhile to stick with your traditional OTA’s to keep your margins up!
- Social Media for HR Management: Human Resource managers have recognised social media as a great recruitment tool. Social Networks like LinkedIn are good online and real-time resumes. Facebook can be a fast and inexpensive channel to broadcast vacancies to a relevant audience of a connected network of professionals.
- Mobile and Location Based Marketing: Smartphone usage will rise making location based social media tools such as Foursquare and Facebook Places grow in popularity as people get more comfortable checking in to a hotel or restaurant business. This will be the result of enhanced privacy features that block your location from public view and more enticing brand offers. As the mobile arena grows, smaller hotels will continue to move text marketing campaigns to mobile phones.
- Video will be everywhere: Consumer’ engagement with video will continue to rise. Both hotel companies and consumers will increasingly rely on video to provide information and behavioural cues that are not otherwise present in texts, tweets and status updates, making video a critical component of the value chain for its impact on perception for both.
- Monitoring Conversations: Hotel Marketers will develop new Listening skills in understanding and harnessing buying signals, search terms, prior purchases, etc. Show your customers you are listening and responding. You can choose social-media dashboards or free keyword-alert services such as google alerts and socialmention.
What are your thoughts on Social Media Trends in the Hospitality Industry for 2011? Comments underneath!