Social Media Significantly Influences Online Consumer Purchasing Intention in the Hotel Industry

We live in an era where it’s all about sharing. Whether it’s a picture, a story, an experience or an opinion, everything is posted and thrown into the digital world. Nowadays there are numerous of social media platforms that, let’s be honest, take up a lot of our time. With billions of posts on a daily basis, what does this mean for the hotel industry and its (potential) clients?

Social media has become such an important marketing tool lately that hotel groups have extended their staff with groups of employees whose sole task is to manage the hotel’s social media accounts. This means creating and posting content, replying to comments and increasing the audience by following and interacting with potential clients.

It’s very important that the employee behind the social media account represents the hotel’s image in a correct way, since social media is an engaging platform and could easily change the attitude consumers have towards the brand (Peelen & Beltman, 2013). Friendly replies and the ability to handle a joke usually do the trick and make people grow more fond of your brand. The use of humour however might be tricky as there is a fine line between a joke and an insult, as you can see in the example below.

Retrieved from TheJournal.ie (The Journal, 2015)

Retrieved from TheJournal.ie (The Journal, 2015)

This post had been shared a lot and created a lot of controversy. While many people loved the hotel for its response, others thought they took it too far (The Journal, 2015). A person that laughed at the response will have a positive attitude towards the hotel and might be more inclined to book with them, whereas a person that thought the hotel took it too far has most probably been put off and does not want to be associated with the brand in any way.

While what is mentioned above is something that the organisation can control, there is of course also a lot of content out there that the hotel group does not have any influence on. How many times have you scrolled down your timeline only to stumble upon a bunch of holiday pictures from your friend, turning you extremely jealous, making you wish you were there? This is called user-generated content (Peelen & Beltman, 2013) and can be extremely helpful for hotels. Through social media and with the help of pictures, reviews and experiences, consumers might be able to convince potential clients to book with the hotel. It is therefore also no surprise that social media is often the place where the purchasing process begins (Peelen & Beltman, 2013). A customer sees or reads something and starts dreaming about their next holiday, preferably at your hotel.

With this said, it is important to mention that we should not underestimate the influence social media has on consumer behaviour. One mistake and it’s only a matter of time before the whole world knows about it. But to end on a more positive note, this of course also works the other way around: one perfect response and you will be loved by many!

References

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. Pearson.

The Journal. (2015, February 26). Dublin hotel tells Ed Sheeran fans to stay in homeless shelters if not happy with its price. Retrieved from The Journal: http://www.thejournal.ie/dublin-hotel-homeless-shelter-1962021-Feb2015/

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