As the number of people who log on to the internet continues to grow, the World Wide Web has become a significant tool for marketing businesses, especially in the hospitality industry. Marketing hotels online allows the establishments to create a presence and give their clients-new and returning-the kind of convenience only the Internet can provide. One of the most important aspects of internet marketing is marketing through social media or social networking, a method that is being adapted by hotels today.
What is social media? This is a type of content found on the Internet that is easily accessible and relatively easy to publish. Others refer to social media as the “democratization of information”, a shift from standard industrial media like television and film. Blogs, internet message boards or forums, video sharing sites, feeds-all of these are examples of social media.
How do hotels serve to benefit from such social media? Since social networking is generally driven by user interactions, then it functions similar in many ways to word of mouth. Who wants a bad review? One negative comment on a particular site may spell the difference between fully-booked accommodations and a ton of empty suites languishing the night away.
Vital information not found on a hotel’s own web site can be generated through social networking, and more often than not that information becomes much more personalized, and therefore much more authoritative as it is an actual experience by someone who spent the night or went to attend an event in a particular hotel. Reviews and opinions matter.
In the same vein, galleries of hotels showcased in blogs and image-hosting sites like Flickr have great potential to draw interest from the online market. It will amaze many people to see how many are swayed by seeing actual images of a hotel. It’s like a visual word of mouth activity.
Alternatively, social media offers a different avenue to connecting with possible clients. Some hotels have been noted to send their representatives to comment on some blog posts or reviews, so that there’s an adequate perspective presented or in order to address some points brought up in the review.
Additionally, social networking sites, particularly Facebook, allow hotels to set up their own accounts and sort of hoard fans or group members so that those people connected to the hotel’s account will be able to receive periodic updates and be informed of status changes and all sorts of other hotel developments-and the potential clients receive these types of information in real time.
The most important thing about hotel marketing through social networking is that, well, most of the time it’s free publicity. There’s no need for hotels themselves to incur any expenses, save perhaps for banner ads and pay-per-click advertising. That’s because most social media are hosted on their own respective sites operated by independent companies. That means hotels have access to a good share of marketing at little to no cost at all.
Social media, as many believe, fuses technology and sociology. Hotels seeking to establish an online presence and increase traffic both to their web site and to the actual establishment are already taking advantage of the opportunities that are abundant in social media marketing. If you see some form of hotel marketing the next time you visit your favorite social networking site, don’t be surprised.