Evaluate the Effectiveness of Social Media Marketing on Hotels

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Evaluate the Effectiveness of Social Media Marketing
on Hotels
Jennie Russell
1. Abstract
Purpose; The internet has forced companies to transform themselves to be
more interactive, innovative and efficient as the online consumer is more active,
demanding and in control; if unhappy about a service the hotel’s reputation can
be damaged as negative information posted online is instant and public; sharing
their opinion with hundreds of thousands of potential customers. However, savvy
marketers are increasingly using social media to let guests sell their hotels, which
is authentic marketing at its best. Marketers need to implement dedication, time
and resources in social media marketing to be successful and stay ahead of their
competitors; most hotels lack the resources required to effectively implement
social marketing strategies.
Methodology; This paper integrates triangulation to ensure all views of social
media marketing are portrayed; three hotel marketing managers were
questioned, consumers on PollDaddy answered polls and the role of the
practitioner research was undertaken to analyse Cedar Court’s Facebook
campaign. Secondary research was used to develop recommendations for the
effective use of social media marketing.
Findings; This paper presents the results of an exploratory study on the different
perspectives of social media marketing. It was found that some hotels have more
developed social media marketing strategies than others but all are willing to
learn and develop. Consumers had mixed opinions on social media marketing
which lead to calls for recommendations to be derived from secondary research
for the effective use of social media marketing.
Research Limitations; More time was needed to research and analyse the
Facebook campaign and a payable account was needed on PollDaddy to
increase the exposure of the polls.
Value; Social media marketing is a fairly new trend; it will be a key factor in the
future of marketing; Large hotels like Hilton and Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts
have fully integrated social media into their marketing strategy, but for most
hotels the difficulty is not only where to begin, but who to use and what to do; this
paper will significantly impact how hotels market on social media sites.
Keywords; Social Media, Marketing, Hotels, Effective, Participation, Interaction
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2. Context & Objectives
Long before the Internet, people shared their opinions of products with friends
and family through word of mouth; ‘a happy guest tells five others; an unhappy
guest tells 9-10 others.’ (Kennedy, 2009) Nowadays, consumers are spending
more and more time on social network sites where they can broadcast their
experiences directly online via social media sharing their opinion with hundreds
of thousands of potential customers; hotel marketers need to reach these
communities and interact with them to stay competitive.
TIG Global (2009) describes how the internet has changed marketing; ‘what was
once an efficient one way communication tool has evolved into an interactive two
way communication device.’ The internet is forcing companies to transform
themselves to be more interactive, innovative and efficient. Kozinets (1999,
p254) discussed that ‘online consumers are not merely passive recipients of
consumption information but active creators’; consumers are now in control. The
information the consumers post is instant and public; giving them the opportunity
to be heard in large numbers. Marketers need to form alliances with these online
consumer communities as it is the dawn of customer engagement; ‘Engaged
customers spend more money and come back more often.’ (Mclean, 2008)
Social media marketing requires participation, interaction and dedication (Raza,
2006); time, commitment and resources are essential for the efficient use of
social media marketing; however most hotels lack the resources required to
effectively implement social marketing strategies. Most hotels either don't do
social media marketing or they don't do it efficiently; Weber (2009) understands
that marketers have to be aggregators not broadcasters; they have to be part of
the consumer’s conversation, not bombarding them with constant sales pitches.
(Evans, 2009) Marketers have to ensure their content is beneficial to the hotel
and their consumers; they should not perceive the hotels presence to be a
nuisance. Large hotels like Hilton, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and MGM
Grand have fully integrated social media into their marketing strategy, but for
most hotels the difficulty is not only where to begin, but who to use and what to
do.
Is it detrimental for a hotel not to use social media sites? Can it be detrimental if
social media sites are used but not appropriately? The aim of this study is to
evaluate the role of social media in hotel marketing. The objectives of this study
are to;

Evaluate how the internet has changed hotel marketing.
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


Assess the key activities involved in social media marketing.
Evaluate the role of social media marketing within hotel marketing
strategies.
Develop recommendations for the effective use of social media marketing
in hotels.
3. Literature Review
Marketing
Raza (2005, p 2) defines marketing as an ‘ongoing process comprising various
co-ordinated activities a company must perform to develop and/or wanted
product, bring it to the market, maintain it there and maximize the customers
benefit.’ The customer is an integral part of the marketing process; marketers
need to focus on their customer’s needs, wants and expectations which will
reflect in their services and result in a successful hotel.
‘For many years hospitality firms have believed that the goal of marketing is to
create as many new customers as possible.’ (Shoemaker & Lewis, 1999, p345)
They believed it was important to satisfy the guests while they were on the
property, but the real goal was to continue to find new customers; their interest in
getting new customers dominated the task of keeping customers. Nowadays,
companies have realized that both aspects are vital; finding new customers and
keeping current customers; Chen et al (2009) suggest that companies exploit the
internet to become more innovative and effective at this task.
Marketing using traditional methods used interruption techniques which
consumers accepted as they classed them as necessary ‘happenings’; the
marketers were in control. But the internet forced marketers to transform
themselves; Chen et al (2009) discovered that marketers were no longer in
control; the balance of power had shifted to the consumer. The existence of
united groups of online consumers interacting shifts knowledge and power from
marketers to consumers; Kozinets (1999, p258) supports this; ‘The more online
consumption members communicate with one another through the internet, the
more bold they feel about challenging marketers and marketing claims.’ Scott
(2009) & Tuten (2008) realized that the ‘old rules’ of marketing were ineffective in
a web 2.0 world; (consumer generated content) marketers have to work harder
as consumers control their media content. Saugestad (2009) reinforces this;
‘research shows that there is a growing proclivity among web users to tune out
‘corporate speak’.’ Miguens, Baggio & Costa (2008) clarify that the internet is no
longer just a static page, but a dynamic platform which allows consumers to
independently generate their own content; sharing with other users and passing
on their own experience. Marketers need to realize that online consumers are
much more ‘active, participative, resistant, activist, loquacious, social and
communitarian.’ (Kozinets, 1999, p261)
Social Medias
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It is important to ensure social media is explained to avoid confusion; ‘Social
media is about sharing information and experiences with acquaintances in your
networks.’ (TIG Global, 2009) Weber (2009) noted that social networks are
places where people with a common interest or concern, meet and express
themselves, their opinions and ‘vent’. There are different social media channels
depending on the desired goals;
Table 1; Authors Analysis of Social Media Sites
Type of
Description
Statistics
Social
Media
Facebook
Facebook is a social networking website that Facebook reports
was originally designed for students, but is
an average of
now open to anyone 13 years of age or older. 250,000 new
Facebook users can create and customize
registrations per
their own profiles with photos, videos, and
day since January
information about themselves. Friends can
2007. (Scott, 2009,
browse the profiles of other friends and write p229)
messages on their profiles.
Twitter
Twitter is an online service that allows you to There are a
share updates with other users by answering reported 3 million
one simple question: "What are you doing?"
tweets posted per
Twitter is a free social networking and micro- day. (Social Media
blogging service that enables its users to
Statistics, 2008)
send and read other users' updates known
as tweets.
TripAdvisor TripAdvisor is a free travel guide and
90% of online
research website that hosts reviews from
consumers trust
users and other information designed to help recommendations
plan a vacation.
from reviews
(Mclean, 2008)
YouTube
YouTube is a video sharing service that
‘Videos posted on
allows users to watch videos posted by other You tube attract
users and upload videos of their own. The
more than 40
slogan of the YouTube website is "Broadcast million visitors
Yourself." This implies the YouTube service
monthly.’ (Weber,
is designed primarily for ordinary people who 2009 p4)
want to publish videos they have created.
‘Social networking continues to grow and shape the way people communicate.’
(Hotelworld, 2010) There are hundreds of active social networking websites, but
the social media sites listed in table 1 are relevant to this project as hotels are
currently using them to market themselves.
The internet is becoming one big social networking site; ‘Over 44% of all internet
users are active in social media’ (TIG Global, 2009) Saugestad (2009) &
Miguens, Baggio & Costa (2008) argue that social media sites are the most
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popular sites on the internet due to the fact it is available 24/7, giving potential
online customers the opportunity to access information at their own convenience.
Starkov & Mechoso (2010) acknowledges that internet users spend 17% of their
surfing time on social network and blogging sites, nearly triple the percentage of
time spent on sites than a year ago which is beneficial to marketers if they use
social media effectively, as they are reaching a growing audience.
Using Social Media Effectively
Many authors agree that social media marketing needs to be fully integrated in
the hotel’s marketing process. Marketer’s need a solid internet strategy; merging
social media marketing into their marketing plan and the hotels brand; integrating
videos, images and blogs to increase exposure and improve online positioning.
(Davis, 2009, Raza, 2005, Tikkanen et al, 2009) Social media gives marketers an
incredibly inexpensive way to build brand awareness, while doing it in a way that
makes the hotel seem simultaneously hip, down to earth and fun.
Hotels (2009) explain how savvy marketers are increasingly using social media
to let guests sell their hotels, which is authentic marketing at its best. Kennedy
(2009) found that guests who have had extremely positive experiences do often
feel motivated to post their positive feedback on the internet. Successful word of
mouth marketing isn’t about what the hotel thinks it represents; it’s what the
consumers choose to talk about; ‘Word of mouth hinges on real consumers
spreading the word for you.’ (Mclean, 2008) It’s the best marketing tool; with high
credibility as it comes from previous customers and there is no cost to the hotel.
However, if consumers have a bad experience it can be unfavourable for the
hotels reputation; ‘a single negative online guest review can cause significant
damage by scaring off future potential guests.’ (Kennedy, 2009) The scope of
internet marketing is huge; numbers could be in the realms of tens of thousands
of potential guests scared off from one bad review on the internet. Hotels
reputations are at stake; consumers are going to be talking about how they were
treated for better or for worse.
Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts has set the bar for social media customers
service care; a guest went on twitter whilst staying at the Biltmore Four Seasons
Resort to make a criticism about the hotels music, to her surprise she received a
bottle of wine and a note from the general manager apologizing. Another
situation at Four Seasons Bangkok, where a guest complained on twitter about
the lack of appealing movies on TV that night; management were notified and the
guest was informed about the hotels in-house DVD library. (Kirby, 2009) These
situations show the effective engagement and participation required with social
media marketing that results in high customer satisfaction.
Interaction, Participation and Authenticity
Social media is all about forming relationships, trust and building an online
reputation. The main focus in social media marketing is to keep consumers
informed and not to fool them. TIG Global (2009) explain that social media users
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will likely be appreciative of hotel marketers updates and more inclined to pass
them along to their networks of friends and family, if they feel the updates are
authentic and useful. The main purpose of social media is social interaction and
networking with other users; hotel marketers need to enhance their social
interactions to be successful; ‘the speed of the response is a significant factor in
interactivity.’ (Tikkanen et al, 2009, p1371) The stronger a hotel’s genuine
interactivity on social media sites, the stronger their social media brand will be.
Starkov & Mechoso (2010) reveal that if a hotel enhances its social media
presence on Facebook and Twitter, it can create a buzz around the property and
contribute to increased awareness and booking considerations. Engaging and
dynamic content can enhance a hotels presence and generate continuous
interest; ‘the online social media process is all about the ‘word of mouse’.’
(Parsippany, 2009) Social media sites are all about customer engagement;
companies who focus on engagement rather than selling will see success.
(Mclean, 2007, Tikkanen et al, 2009) By incorporating value, interactivity and
engagement; hotel marketers could thrive with social media marketing.
Valuable Content
Evans (2009) advises marketers to ensure they have significant content on their
social media sites otherwise they will lose consumers and search engine
rankings. Consumers aren’t afraid to tell hotel marketers if their content is rubbish
but at least social media offers the ability to make instant adjustments in case
they need to change detrimental content. ‘Marketers have to provide customers
with value to have a better chance of engaging their customers in their marketing
activities.’ (Parsons et al, 1998 cited from Tikkanen et al, 2009, p1369) Value is
one of the most important things to keep in mind when creating great social
media content that will persuade consumers to interact and engage with
marketers.
Armstrong (2001) understands that marketers are sceptical about social media
marketing but tries to convince them to use the internet as a sales and marketing
tool; he summarizes that the issue is not only how to engage the consumer, but
also how first to attract the consumer to the website and then to retain them;
however this book is dated with basic knowledge of the internet and limited
reference to social media marketing. Saugestad (2009) argued that successful
social media marketing requires meaningful participation, authenticity and real
engagement. Social media is a continual process of evolving and updating to
ensure exciting and lively content; ‘Involvement in (and success with) social
media takes time and commitment.’ (TIG Global, 2009)
Future of Marketing
Hotels (2009) predicts social media will become firmly entrenched as a marketing
channel in 2010. Savvy marketers will continue to shift marketing funds to online
channels at the expense of traditional marketing methods which Starkov &
Mechoso (2010) reinforce ‘social media and mobile marketing are quickly
becoming the mainstream in the hospitality industry.’ Accelerating technological
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developments are evolving as a new generation of opportunity and challenge for
the marketer. The issue with social media marketing isn’t whether to use it or not
but to ensure the time, commitment and resources are spent developing it
effectively. There is a lot of literature around social media marketing but no
distinct recommendations for effective usage.
4. Method of Investigation
An exploratory research approach will be used to gather information; a mixture of
deductive and inductive; deductive as I want to find if hotel marketing managers
find social media marketing useful, also want to find if the level of communication
on social networking can gain loyalty from consumers or discover if social media
marketing is beneficial to a hotel or detrimental to their image. Inductive
secondary research will develop recommendations for the use of social media
marketing.
Triangulation refers to the use of different data collection techniques in one study
in order to ensure the data is correct and precise. (Saunders, Lewis, Thornhill,
2005) Triangulation will be used in this project as it will provide better
opportunities to gather all perspectives on social media marketing and will allow
effective evaluation of the findings. A mixed method research approach will be
undertaken and data will be analyzed throughout the process; Tashakkori &
Teddie (2003) quoted in Saunders, Lewis, Thornhill, (2005, p 146) argue that
‘multiple methods are useful if they provide better opportunities for you to answer
your research question.’
The role of practitioner researcher will be undertaken as I designed a Facebook
page for Cedar Court Hotel Wakefield when I worked for them on my placement
which I now manage. I plan to add 1 event and 3-4 status updates per week as
well as requesting at least 40 friends. I understand it will be time consuming; I’m
a full time student so all my time is spent on university work which does not allow
me to be fully immersed in the daily events at Cedar Court. Therefore familiarity
may affect the research as I don’t have any up to date information to enable me
to frequently update the status with current issues; I have overcome this problem
by asking the sales manager to keep me informed. I will analyse the campaign
for 3 months to observe the impact and responses from the hotel’s social media
activities.
Structured questionnaires will be conducted using purposive sampling (typical
case) with three hotel marketing managers that are currently using Facebook to
market their hotel in order to explore their opinions of social media marketing.
The questionnaires will be conducted through email so the managers can
complete the questionnaire at a time and place convenient to them. The delphi
technique will be used to ensure the key issues are addressed; when all the data
is collected I will distribute it to the marketing managers to see if they agree with
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the findings and to ensure all the important issues have been illustrated. All three
managers will answer the same set of questions to ensure reliable data.
From these questionnaires I will develop polls to ask the general public their
opinions on social media marketing using PollDaddy as the sampling frame ‘The
larger your sample size the lower the likely error in generalising to the
population.’ (Saunders, Lewis, Thornhill, 2005, pg. 210) Poll Daddy has 500,000
users around the world (PollDaddy, 2009) which should generate a good
response rate; I am aiming for at least 100 answers to each question to generate
findings that are representative of people who are interested in social networking.
There is no limit to the amount of questions I can post as PollDaddy provides
interactive polling, which I thought was relevant to this project. I will post the
questions in November and 3 months later I will gather the quantitative data
which allows easy comparison.
As well as primary data, documentary secondary data will be gathered from
literature on the internet; journals and articles from websites such as
e.hotelier.com/caterersearch.com will be used to develop recommendations for a
hotel marketer to efficiently use social media marketing. Secondary data is
unobtrusive; it will aid the project’s objectives and will enable triangulation.
An external ethics committee is not required for this research; none of the
participants will be vulnerable and social media marketing is a neutral subject.
Participant error, bias or observer error shouldn’t occur as triangulation should
yield consistent, reliable findings. For this project written consent will be
implemented, if participants do not want to participate then they simply do not
have to answer the questions. Participants will be volunteers and will be
adequately informed of the research; they will be free to withdraw at any time and
if necessary the findings can be anonymous. I will monitor Facebook and
PollDaddy 4 times a week to ensure the activity is sincere and will re evaluate the
validity if I feel it’s being compromised.
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4.1 Research Agenda
From the literature review the key issues were highlighted and incorporated into
the table below; these issues will form the basis of the questionnaires and polls.
Table 2; Table of Issues
Issues
Reference
The more online
consumption members
communicate with one
another through the
internet, the bolder they
feel about challenging
marketers and
marketing claims.
KOZINETS, Robert, V.
(1999) E-Tribalized
Marketing?; The strategic
Implications Of Virtual
Communities of
Consumption. European
Management Journal. 17 (3)
252–264.
Online social networking
sites are the most
popular sites on the
internet.
MIGUENS, J., BAGGIO, R.,
COSTA, C. (2008) Social
Media and Tourism
Destinations; TripAdvisor
Case Study. Advances in
Tourism Research 2008.
Aveiro. Portugal
RAZA, Ivo. (2005) Heads In
Beds; Hospitality & Tourism
Marketing. 1st Edition.
United States of America.
Pearson Prentice Hall.
DAVIS, John. (2009) Social
Media; Marketing Magic or
Madness. [online] 16 July.
Article from Hotel Online;
News for The Hospitality
Executive. Last accessed on
19 October 2009 at:
www.hotel-
It is virtually impossible
to compete in today’s
marketplace without a
solid internet strategy.
Hotels need to merge
social media marketing
into the brand and the
marketing plan;
integrating videos,
images and blogs to
increase exposure and
improve online
Question derived
from issue
Do you find that
online consumers are
much more active,
participative, resistant
and more
demanding?
What types of social
media marketing do
you use and how do
you use it?
Do you have an
internet marketing
strategy?
How important is
social media
marketing in your
marketing plan? Is it
fully integrated?
9|Page
positioning.
online.com/News/PR2009_3
rd/Jul09_SocialMediaMagic.
html
Engaging and dynamic
PARSIPPANY, NJ. (2009)
content can generate
Introducing: CoMMingle
continuous interest; ‘the Social Media Marketing
online social media
Agency for Hospitality.
process is all about the
[online] 21 September.
‘word of mouse’.’
Article from Hotel Online;
News for the Hospitality
Executive. Last accessed on
19 October at:
http://www.hotelonline.com/News/PR2009_3
rd/Sep09_CoMMingle.html
Successful social media SAUGESTAD, Stephen.
marketing requires
(2009) Social Media and the
meaningful participation, Hospitality Industry. [online]
authenticity and real
23 September. Article from
engagement.
ehotelier.com; the one stop
website for hoteliers. Last
accessed on 19 October
2009 at:
http://ehotelier.com/hospitali
tynews/item.php?id=P17166_
0_11_0_C
Four Seasons Hotels &
KIRBY, Adam. (2010) MGM
Resorts has set the bar Grand Billboard Takes
for social media
Twitter to Masses. [online] 4
customers service care; January. Article from Hotels;
a guest went on twitter
The Magazine of the
whilst staying at the
Worldwide Hotel Industry.
Biltmore Four Seasons
Last accessed on 6 January
Resort to make a
2010 at:
criticism about the
http://www.hotelsmag.com/b
hotels music, to her
log/Musings_Miscellany/296
surprise she received a 91bottle of wine and a note MGM_Grand_Billboard_Tak
from the general
es_Twitter_To_Masses.php
manager apologizing.
1. Does your social
media site
incorporate engaging
and dynamic content
for your consumer?
2. How often do you
update your content
on your social media
sites?
1. Successful social
media marketing
requires meaningful
participation, value
and real engagement
do you feel you give
this and how?
2. How often do you
check/interact on
your social media
sites?
1. If you find a
negative comment
online what do you
do?
2. Can you give me 3
examples of how
social media
marketing has
worked well for you
and what was the
impact?
10 | P a g e
5. Findings & Analysis
5.1 Facebook Research
The impact and responses from Cedar Court’s social media activities on
Facebook were recorded. Every week Cedar Court’s status was updated 3 times,
a new event was added and an average of 40 friends were requested; the
campaign was analysed for 3 months to investigate positive and negative
reactions of the consumers.
It can be immediately seen from column 2 that Cedar Court’s friends have
consistently increased, doubling the amount of friends it started off with from 323
on 24.11.09 to 692 on 19.02.10. The number of people adding Cedar Court to be
their friend (column 5) also consistently increased, in the first month Cedar Court
had 0-1 people requesting to be their friend but towards the end of the campaign
an average of 6 people were requesting to be their friend with a maximum of 8
people on 19.02.10. The popularity of Cedar Court definitely increased; at the
start only 1 person ‘liked’ the status, then only 1 person commented on the
second status, gradually throughout the weeks more people started to ‘like’ and
comment on the statuses. Towards the end of the campaign an average of 30
people were ‘liking’ the status and an average of 3 people were commenting; the
Valentine’s Day status (15.02.10) had 70 friends ‘like’ it and 3 comments which is
significant.
Generally, the popularity of Cedar Court’s profile did increase however there was
a decrease of 7 friends on 24.12.09 which could be due to the fact 4 events were
sent out the previous time or it could have been due to festive pessimism, after
this incident I ensured I would only send 1 event out each week to ensure I didn’t
annoy any more of Cedar Court’s friends. The number of people accepting Cedar
Court to be their friend and adding Cedar Court to be their friend consistently
increased, which could be due to the fact that more consumers are accepting
companies presence on social media sites however consumers tended to ‘like’
and comment on the personal status update; not the sales pitch statuses, which
goes against companies objectives to use social media as a marketing tool. All
the comments were positive which is encouraging; this shows a positive impact
as consumers enjoy participating in the personal statuses; they take pleasure in
the engagement and interactment with the hotel’s day to day activities; birthday’s,
promotions, new employees etc.
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5.2 Questionnaires with Marketing Managers
Questionnaires were emailed to the marketing managers of Hilton, Marriott and
Malmaison. They were given 1 month to reply; giving as much detail as possible.
To analyse these questionnaires, themes have been derived to allow ease of
comparison between the hotels.
Marketing the Hotels
At the moment all three hotels use a variety of sources to market their hotels;
social media, emails, newspapers, tradeshows, search engines, word of mouth
and leaflet dropping. All three also have an internet marketing strategy; Hilton
explained their marketing team works together with their PR and promotions to
shape this strategy.
Social media is important in the hotels marketing plans; Marriott have only been
using social media for around 6 months and hopes to be fully integrated by the
end of the year. Hilton acknowledges social media is a ‘new space’ and have
integrated it through PR and partnerships/promotions.
All three hotel’s use Facebook, plus another social media form, however they all
use them in slightly different ways. Malmaison started using social media
marketing after attending a ‘future of hospitality’ course and uses Twitter and
Facebook to update promotions and news etc. Hilton recognised that
conversation about their brand were taking place on Facebook and Twitter
whether they were participating or not; they use the same sites as Malmaison as
‘additional channels’ for brand news and giveaways. Marriott started in response
to their sister hotel having used it for several months and uses Facebook and
LinkedIn.
Opinions on Social Media Marketing
Malmaison’s opinions are mixed; they believe it is the way forward because it has
many benefits but understand there are negatives and that hotels should be
careful. However Marriott is not in favour of it; ‘using sites that are not necessarily
business focused as a marketing tool can cheapen your product and portray the
wrong image.’ Hilton understands the need for a sound strategy, time and
commitment before adopting it; ‘social media marketing should never be used in
place of traditional marketing tactics.’
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All three hotels agree that social media marketing is useful; Malmaison finds it
easy to a point, ‘its quick, reaches a mass audience, builds relationships and is
relatively cost effective.’ Marriott thinks it is cost effective and likes the ‘speed to
market.’ Hilton states that it is ‘extremely helpful in building buzz for our brand,
sharing news quickly.’
Occurrence of Content Updates and Interactions
All three hotels interact on their social media sites however there are different
levels; Hilton is the highest and checks theirs frequently throughout each day
whereas Marriott only check theirs once a week; hotels on social media sites
should be giving instant information; a week is far too long. Malmaison checks
theirs as ‘often as they can’; but this is a loose term and could range from Hiltons
highest level to Marriott’s lowest level of interaction.
Again, with content update the rankings were the same; Hilton was the leader as
they ‘post multiple messages to Twitter each day and add content to Facebook
regularly’, Marriott only update their content on average once a month which is
insufficient and Malmaison were vague with ‘as often as we can.’
Participation, Engagement and Valuable Content
Malmaison follows up on complaints and says thank you for good comments,
they offer incentives and promotions their customers would appreciate. Hilton
talks with their ‘fans’ rather than ‘at’ them, they try to provide content that has real
value, rather than simply ‘pushing marketing messages.’ Whereas Marriott
acknowledges that they are not giving the ‘appropriate level of participation’
however this year they do hope to overcome this and build their online profile.
Malmaison believes that their site incorporates engaging and dynamic content for
their consumers; Hilton always ‘tries to provide information that is valuable to our
audience.’ Marriott is drawing up plans to address their ‘limited’ content.
Champions and Time Spent with Social Media Marketing
All three hotels understand the importance of assigning a dedicated social media
marketer; Hilton has ‘an agency team and three internal team members’;
Malmaison has 1 person from each hotel responsible and Marriott has nominated
six people for their social media activities.
Marriott only spends a couple of hours per week on social media marketing whilst
Malmaison spends ‘as much time as we can’ which is again vague but sounds
keen! Hilton understands that ‘time investment is considerable and necessary.’
Attracting the Active and Demanding Online Consumer
Malmaison attracts online consumers to their social media sites through
exclusive offers and competitions; Hilton has integrated their Facebook and
Twitter with their official brand site and other microsites; they also rely heavily on
13 | P a g e
word of mouth from their current ‘fans’ and use giveaways. In the near future
Marriott will be adding their social media addresses to their traditional ‘collateral’
that they hand to clients.
Malmaison agrees with the statement that ‘online consumers are more active,
participative, resistant and demanding.’ Hilton thinks it varies; ‘most followers are
honest and enjoy travel so their posts and comments are positive’ but Hiltons
social media channels are ‘not intended to be a guest assistance centre.’ Which I
disagree with; guests should be able to have their problems resolved through
social media, I do understand that it’s an international company but strategies
should be in place for these encounters. Marriott said ‘we will only really begin to
see this in the coming months as our exposure grows.’
Analysis of Social Media Marketing
Malmaison analyses their social media marketing at the end of every week using
tools such as ‘trendistic, tweetbeep, twittercounter, twitpwr.’ Hilton receives
weekly reports from an agency that ‘tracks major topics.’ However Marriott’s
focus is ‘bringing our profile to a level where it actually merits tracking.’
TripAdvisor Reviews
Malmaison and Marriott both stated that they use TripAdvisor reviews but didn’t
say how they used them. Hilton encourages its hotels to monitor consumer
reviews as ‘they are a great way to understand what is and is not working for a
particular property.’
Negative Comments
If Malmaison finds a negative comment then they ‘address and investigate the
situation, if a contact number/email address is left then the matter will be dealt
with in private.’ Hilton does their best to resolve the issue; ‘just as we do at our
hotels when a guest complains.’ Until this year Marriott only acted on feedback
without replying to the customer; but now they use the ‘Management Response’
function to post replies to both negative and positive comments.
Hilton doesn’t believe social media can necessarily go wrong, but negative posts
about customer’s experiences at their hotels is ‘disheartening.’ Malmaison stated
that they seem to be doing ok and Marriott said ‘this remains to be seen.’
Social Media Working Well
All three hotels have had positive experiences with social media; Malmaison has
had positive feedback from its ‘fans’, the events they advertised have had
favourable responses and offers have been well received. Hilton asked
‘Tweeters’ to cheer for the film premier ‘Up in the Air’ for a chance to win various
prizes; this was mutually beneficial and increased the hotel’s profile; reporters
often post stories from Hiltons Twitter or Facebook. Marriott use Facebook to
advertise charity events and to drive exposure of their Christmas party packages.
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Recommendations
Malmaison and Marriott are welcoming of recommendations ‘that are tailored for
our product and the market we are in.’ Hilton are ‘always looking for suggestions
that we can use at the brand level and share with our hotels.’ Social media is a
continual process of evolving and updating that takes time and commitment,
even though Hilton are the most advanced in social media, the willingness for
suggestions shows true commitment and is an important attribute.
Hilton are the most savvy in social media marketing; Marriott is fairly new in this
concept and need more time to extend their strategies. Malmaison is well
developed but not up to Hiltons standards however Hilton is a multi-national
company which is hard to compete with.
Unfortunately some managers did not answer in as much depth as I would have
liked; none would disclose any financial information which is understandable but
disappointing as it would have been interesting to compare the financial
implications and set a guideline amount in the recommendations. One manager
took 3 months to fill out the questionnaire and only replied when I used Facebook
to prompt them to fill it in.
5.3 PollDaddy Results
Polls were developed on PollDaddy to ask the general public their opinions on
social media marketing. Originally I had problems with the response rate as I only
had a free account, if I had a paid account I would have received more
responses and more exposure, but I overcame this by using Facebook to link my
questions from PollDaddy and the responses increased rapidly; reinforcing the
argument that social media is effective.
Table 3; Key Points from PollDaddy
1. 87% think that social media marketing isn’t just a trend.
2.
50% think that marketers abuse social media marketing.
3.
48% think there should be rules for the appropriate usage of social media
marketing.
31% think marketing on social media is innovative.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
60% find it easier to challenge marketer’s claims through social media
marketing.
30% use Facebook and 27% use Twitter as their main social media forms.
36% think companies on social media are demonstrating meaningful
participation, authenticity and real engagement.
62% engage in social media if they see it as beneficial.
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9.
57% think social media marketing is a convenient and efficient way of finding
information and interacting with an organisation
Source; Author’s Analysis of Poll Daddy Results
1. This is a significant percentage of people who think social media marketing
isn’t just a trend; they believe it will be around permanently so hotels should take
up this information and use this to their advantage through marketing.
2. Half who answered thought that marketers ‘just don’t get’ social media
marketing; people felt that marketers could make more of the opportunities they
have; the ‘recommendations’ may help marketers use social media marketing
more effectively.
3. This point reinforces the need for marketers to effectively use social media
marketing; it is a fairly new concept and marketers need to develop their
strategies if they want to succeed.
4. 31% think marketing on social media is innovative which is encouraging for
marketers; 32% of people don’t mind social media marketing as long as it isn’t
excessive.
5. Online consumer aren’t afraid to challenge marketers claims; they are more
assertive which strengthens Chen et al (2009) and Kozinets (1999) argument
that the balance of power has shifted away from the marketer to the online
consumer.
6. Most people who answered used some form of social media marketing, from
Facebook to LinkedIn; companies should begin marketing on Facebook and then
develop their strategies from there.
7. 36% thought that social media marketing shows companies commitment to
engagement and interaction; however the polls were very close with some
people being suspicious of social media marketing and the marketing ploys.
8. Social media sites are all about customer engagement with beneficial content
this point reinforces Mclean (2007) and Tikkanen et al (2009); companies who
focus on engagement rather than selling will see success.
9. This supports TIG Global’s (2009) point that social media users will likely be
appreciative of hotel marketers updates and more inclined to pass them along to
their networks of friends and family, if they feel the updates are authentic and
useful.
All questions answered had different response rates ranging from 97 to 497.
Even though some of the percentages are fairly inconclusive, social media
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marketing is a growing trend and it would be interesting to see the results in a
year’s time.
5.4 Recommendations
The dynamic growth and popularity of social media sites has created new
opportunities for hotels; I have created recommendations to ensure proper usage
of social media marketing and eliminate the risks involved for hotels.
6. Conclusion
The purpose of this project was to evaluate social media in hotel marketing; this
project aims to help hotel marketers assess the key activities involved in social
media marketing and evaluate the impact on a hotels marketing strategies and
their image.
Literature Review
The internet has forced companies to transform themselves to be more
interactive, innovative and efficient as the online consumer is more active,
demanding and in control; if unhappy about a service the hotel’s reputation can
be damaged as negative online information posted is instant and public; sharing
their opinion with hundreds of thousands of potential customers. The more online
consumers communicate with one another, the bolder they feel about challenging
marketers and marketing claims.Social media marketing requires participation,
interaction and dedication; time, commitment and resources are essential for the
efficient use of social media marketing; it is a highly engaging and innovative
marketing method.
Engaging and dynamic content can enhance a hotels presence and generate
continuous interest; it needs to be focused on the consumer, it’s not what the
hotel wants to talk about it’s about what the consumers want to talk about. If a
hotel enhances its social media presence, it can create a buzz around the
property and contribute to increased awareness and booking considerations.
Savvy marketers are increasingly using social media to let guests sell their
hotels, which is authentic marketing at its best.
Findings
By analysing the impact of social media marketing through different mediums the
research was able to demonstrate the impact of social media marketing. More
time was needed to analyse the Facebook campaign and a payable account was
needed on PollDaddy to increase the exposure of the polls.
Despite the limitations there are a number of important points that came from the
research; more consumers are accepting companies presence on social media
sites like Facebook however consumers prefer personal status updates; not
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sales pitch statuses. The company profile needs a personality in order for
engagement to be fulfilled.
Social media is a continual process of evolving, updating and developing; hotels
should be consistent in regularly usage on social media sites; instant information
is needed to be given; a week is far too long to interact and deliver their message
effectively. Hotels should implement weekly analysis of their social media
marketing strategies to ensure effective usage. All three marketing managers
have positive experiences with social media marketing with Hilton stating ‘social
media marketing can’t necessarily go wrong.’
PollDaddy consumers don’t mind social media marketing as long as it isn’t
excessive; it shows companies commitment to engagement and interaction;
however the polls found some people being suspicious of social media marketing
and the marketing ploys. Consumers thought that marketers ‘just don’t get’ social
media marketing; they felt that marketers could make more of the opportunities
they have; the ‘recommendations’ may help marketers use social media
marketing more effectively.
Recommendations have been derived through secondary research for the
effective use of social media marketing. A dedicated and committed employee
needs designating to monitor and interact on the social media sites. Marketers
should establish themselves as credible members of the community and
legitimate experts in their field by sharing knowledge and useful links.
To Conclude
Social media marketing is a fairly new trend; marketers should intensify their
efforts to develop and expand their social media marketing strategies to improve
their online positioning. There are positives and negatives to any new venture but
overall if social media is effectively used the positives out weight the negatives. It
is virtually impossible to compete in today’s marketplace without a solid internet
strategy and hotels need to merge social media marketing into their brand and
their marketing plan.Social media will soon be the norm in marketing and
marketers need to implement dedication, time and resources to be successful
and stay ahead of their competitors; most hotels lack the resources required to
effectively implement social marketing strategies so this paper should
significantly impact how hotels market on social media sites.
Social media marketing is a free marketing tool and if used effectively can be
beneficial to the hotel with high returns, however if hotels use social media but
not effectively then this can be detrimental to their image; online consumers will
perceive them as a nuisance and their online reputation will be ruined.Referring
back to the questions asked at the start of this paper; ‘is it detrimental for a hotel
not to use social media sites?’ and ‘can it be detrimental if social media sites are
used but not appropriately?’ I think it can be both detrimental to a hotel to not use
social media, as they are missing out on a mass online market, who will be
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discussing their brand whether they are participating or not, however it can also
be detrimental if social media is used but not appropriately. By incorporating
value, interactivity and engagement; hotel marketers could thrive with social
media marketing.
Future research from this paper should look into the long term benefits of social
media marketing. Some of the percentages were inconclusive from PolDaddy, it
would be interesting to see the results in a year’s time to discover how opinions
had changed.
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