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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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.