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Of the industries impacted by the internet, the travel and hospitality industries are amongst those impacted greatest. While companies within these industries have faced numerous digital challenges, there can be little doubt that the web has benefitted forward thinking players immensely.
When it comes to hotels, however, a survey conducted by TravelClick found that a full quarter were still ignoring social media for purposes of "[increasing] occupancy and revenue per available room."
In the hotelier's social media marketing mix, Facebook is, not surprisingly, the most popular social media hub. Of hotels using social media, 65% are active on Facebook. That number drops to 20% for Twitter, 10% for Groupon and just 8% for Foursquare.
According to TravelClick, 57% of the respondents to its survey are increasing their spend on display ads and 20% are increasing their spend on paid search. But not investing in social could be a mistake.
Jonathan Cherins, TravelClick's CMO:
It’s important that hotels don’t rely solely on advertising to increase bookings. Hoteliers should be incorporating a mix of online marketing, GDS media as well as social media in order touch their key audiences.
He may be right. According to the latest L2 Digital IQ Index for travel, social media is a significant source of traffic for 78% of travel websites.
More importantly, "for 90% of sites, social media [is] a top destination site after visiting their site (accounting for 11% of downstream traffic overall)." It makes sense that travel is a research-driven category. After all, who would want to book a hotel room if other travelers report rude service or bed bugs?
When it comes to monitoring and defending reputation online, promoting bookings in the process of course, it would only seem logical that hotels become more invested in social media.
At the same time, there are certainly challenges. One of the biggest: consumers are very price sensitive. Indeed, two thirds of the hoteliers TravelClick asked indicated that "rate is still a key factor in bookings." Only 4% disagreed.
As always, the devil is in the details and just like in every other industry, hotels will need to balance the importance of social media with the need for ROI.
Hyatt's Twitter concierge may or may not be the type of social media initiative that works (read: produces real ROI), but in the coming years it will almost certainly become more difficult for hotels to ignore social media altogether as some still do.