For Hotels, Social Media is the "Second Wave" to Foster Loyalty and Generate Revenue

By Bernard Perrine CEO & Co-Founder, SocialCentiv | September 20, 2015

When it comes to generating revenue through social media, hoteliers are facing a combination of bad news and good news.

The bad news: Change is happening in this arena, and quickly – which presents challenges for managers and executives.

Like it or not, hotel brands and properties alike are getting reputations online via reviews from previous guests. Various studies have demonstrated that hotels that ignore these reviews can wind up under performing against rivals that respond appropriately to what folks are saying about them online.

The good news is that change and challenges bring opportunity.

To be sure, the first wave of the Internet has been ugly for hoteliers. It brought online travel agencies such as Expedia and Hotels.com, which seemingly turned hotels into commodities by making comparison shopping simple – and charged commissions for the privilege.

Fortunately, a second online wave is building for the travel industry through social networking. On sites like Facebook and Twitter, leisure travelers tell the world – including hotels – everything they are thinking and feeling about vacations past and future. Savvy brands are using this information to personalize their offerings, improve their understanding of individual guests' likes and dislikes, and forge in travelers the most valuable trait a customer can have: loyalty.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.