Develop Fully Connected Consumers Through Social Media

By Michael Barbera CEO, Barbera Solutions | August 20, 2017

Social media has shown the world its power. Your power. It's your voice that is shared throughout the world via underwater fiber optic cables and wireless networks. This voice has played a key role in the development of global politics, criminal justice, relationships and economic development.

Economic development is a broad term, but when there is growth in a town, city or county, a hotel is likely to appear. Alike every other business, hotels have a target segment, or two, or ten. It's unlikely that a four or five star hotel will appear in small, rural town, and it's unlikely that a large convention will be held in a small hotel, regardless of geographic location. Although each hotel has target markets, hotels can increase their reach through humanizing engagement on social networks as well as increase their revenues by developing a "fully-connected" consumer.

Hotels, or any industry, shouldn't be on social media just to be on social media. It's the largest voice in your organization, and if done correctly it could provide the largest marginal returns. However, hotels should have a strategy for their social media campaigns. A purpose and an expected call-to-action is needed. An example of a goal could be to gain more customers. Another example is to leverage current consumers into more loyal consumers. I'm going to discuss the latter.

Several independent studies by Harvard Business School, Mostista, Acxiom, Forbes, Forrester and Barbera Solutions have yielded results that identified the catalyst of increasing more revenue from current customers than new customers: fully-connected consumers.

Consumers have a connection to brands. The connection can be a purchase, a friend's purchase, or a memory of an experience. Hotels want consumers that are fully-connected. Fully-connected hotel consumers spent 68 percent more at their favorite hotels in 2014, than consumers who are "connected". The fully-connected consumer is loyal. They prefer one brand over another, and will avoid any easy solution in order to remain loyal to their favorite brands. For example, in 2014, 51 percent of fully connected hotel consumers drove an average 8 miles further from a nearby hotel in order to stay with their preferred brand.

The transformation from connected to fully-connected takes time. It also requires a rewards program and methods that build an experience that keep the consumer returning. Another method to create a fully-connected consumer is through the use of social networking. First, it's important to identify our target segments. Since most hotels have already completed this first step, it's time to identify which social networks are preferred by our segments. Your hotel shouldn't be on every social network. Your hotel should be on the platforms that offer you the greatest return: engaging with your consumers.

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.