How Social Media Has Been A Game Changer For The Hospitality Sector Globally

By Anil Kumar Prasanna, CEO, Axisrooms

Anil Kumar Prasanna, CEO, AxisroomsHow social are we?

Do you know how many users actively use social media on a daily basis? 3.2 billion People, across the world - that's a whopping 42 percent of the entire world's population (according to a report from Emarsys in 2019).

Take a guess as to which might be the most visited social media website in the world - it's Facebook. A Pewinternet 2018 report states that 68 percent of social media visits are on Facebook.

According to Emarketer report in 2019, 90 percent of all millennials (born after 2000), 77.5 percent of all Gen X (born before 2000), and 48.2 percent of Baby Boomers (the older generation) are active on social media today.

“Businesses in the hospitality industry have to quickly figure out a way to leverage the power of social media”

Okay, let me throw another statistic before we get into the crux of the matter: people nearly spend 2 hours every day on social media sites. 2 HOURS!

The writing has always been on the wall - social media has changed the way communities and societies trade information and buy products and services.

Social media and the hospitality industry

Social media platforms have become home to hospitality brands of all sizes, from Airbnb and Hilton to boutique homestays in the Western Ghats. Everyone is eyeing for a slice of the social media pie.

With pictures, videos, LIVE recording etc. hospitality brands are offering their products, services, and promotional offers to their audience on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Hospitality is one such industry driven by word-ofmouth marketing. It's just that today's word-of-mouth is happening on social media. A 2013 Nielsen survey found that, of those who used social media to research travel plans, only 48% stuck with their original plans—33% switched hotels. Social media, when used properly can change your revenue bottom line.

Social media has allowed brands to strike a conversation with consumers

With billions of users on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, hospitality businesses have always been trying to attract users. With innovative content, brands try to create an awareness about who they are and what they sell, and create a visual feel of the service.

Consumers know that brands value social media platforms

A longish flight delay, bad service at a hotel, unruly customer service by the valet - people take to the internet - especially to social media to voice their opinion. Not only that, consumers also highlighted good brand experiences too. They have understood that when issues are highlighted on popular social platforms - brands listen to them. Because, come on, which brand wants an unsolved negative review hanging about?

Social media is not just to sell, but to retain

It's one thing to sell hospitality services or rooms to new users on social media, but many brands effectively use Facebook and Instagram to re-target their audience with specific, user oriented content. Social media has allowed brands to render a personal touch to their audience and the audience loves it.

A win-win situation is when both a brand and its audience connect on common grounds

The best case scenario for a brand to leverage popular social media platforms is when they understand how people search, get influenced, and buy hospitality products and services online. And create content based solutions to address each phase and deliver fantastic value to people. This is the real win-win situation for both the audience and businesses.

The power of social media is yet to be fully tapped

Even though most hospitality business has a presence on popular social media channels, there's yet a whole lot to be tapped. Let me give you some examples.

The power of internet and smartphones has created a new breed of middle-men/women on social platforms such as Instagram - called the influencers. These are hardworking, talented people who have regular jobs (some do this full time) and are passionate about travel and leisure activities.

The best thing about influencers is that they have a readymade list of followers, millions of them. And, brands can leverage these influencers to target a specific group of audience.

However, very few hospitality businesses are using these powerful influencers to market their products or services.

Besides influencers on Instagram, hospitality businesses fail to understand the value of visual media - think of Facebook videos, InstagramTV. The younger generation digs videos and still, very rarely do we see a lot of hospitality businesses making use of these platforms.

Another aspect of social media tech, businesses ought to use is the Facebook Messenger. This is so powerful that it allows you to create a Chatbot and integrate it with Facebook Messenger. You can feed all the basic questions about packages and prices into the Chatbot and let it converse with the audience. Lots of businesses generate hundreds and thousands of leads and sales every day via Facebook Messenger.

All in all, the state of social media is changing rapidly - with new entrants who cater to new age audiences such as TikTok and Snapchat. Businesses in the hospitality industry have to quickly figure out a way to leverage the power of social media. The future is bright if you do so.

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