Managing Social Media
By Peter O'Connor Academic Director, Institute de Management Hotelier Int. | April 24, 2011
Just as consumer adoption of the Web in the 1990s has changed how hotels were marketed and sold, the current explosive growth in the use of Social Media is poised to have similar effects. This change is being driven by customers' growing need for information. In practically no other sector is current, topical and relevant information as important in the decision-making process as within travel. Its intangible nature, coupled with the impossibility of pre-purchase trial, leaves travel almost completely dependent on representations and descriptions as a selling mechanism. Travel products are also diverse, and in many cases it is this heterogeneity that makes them attractive.
Lastly travel products are rarely bought in isolation, and the endless combinations and permutations of routes, transportation modes, times, and accommodation choices, all offered by competing suppliers, make travel planning highly complex. Thus it's easy to see why today's consumers hunt for appropriate information to help bridge the gap between their expectations and their experiences.
In the past, consumers typically acquired such information either directly from the hotel itself or through travel intermediaries. However information originating from such sources suffers from a credibility problem, as it is by its very nature sales orientated and thus highly biased. To read most brochures, every travel experience is unadulterated hedonism - a sharp contrast to the reality of today's overcrowded, under-delivering, travel environment.
Herein one finds the supposed added-value of the press, whose role is to cast an unbiased eye over such information, and filter and consolidate it into objective recommendations. In fact an entire industry has developed around the production of travel guides, from global brands such as Fodor's, Lonely Planet and Rough Guides to more specialized publications focused on particular regions or niche experiences.
However, today's skeptical consumers are increasingly questioning the impartiality of such sources, driven in part by media reports of pay-to-play listings and glaring errors. Ideally, they would like a more trustworthy source to provide them with the detailed, topical, relevant information they need for travel planning. The growth in Social Media, particularly user-generated content such as social networks, blogs and user-reviews sites, offers just such a potential solution.
What is Social Media?
The Hotel Business Review articles are free to read on a weekly basis, but you must purchase a subscription to access
our library archives. We have more than 5000 best practice articles on hotel management and operations, so our
knowledge bank is an excellent investment! Subscribe today and access the articles in our archives.