The social web can be used in a competitive way to create a long-lasting relationship with the customers. To start this relationship or deepen the existing relationship, the company needs to do something that inspires the customer or draws attention to the hotel. They need to inform people with relevant information without pushing. The integration of social media seems to be the perfect way to do so (Peelen and Beltman, 2013).
The web provides access to media that stimulate different senses and creates a desire to engage in different activities. The communicative power and the ability to connect people and devices are making the web the place to show the brand of the hotel. Content is becoming more important. People have a desire for interesting, engaging content and media that people will connect with, engage in and share with others. (Peelen and Beltman, 2013). But why are most hotels only sharing content on social media platforms instead of using it as a place for co-creating with possible guests?
The success of co-creation depends on the DART principle. DART stands for Dialogue, Access, Risk and Transparency. An open dialogue encourages knowledge sharing and mutual understanding. Therefore hotels need to offer access to resources, information, tools and assets. A risk analysis should be made due to the fact that customers demand more information about the potential risks associated with the co-creation. Lastly, transparency builds trust between the hotel and the individuals. Trust is one of the most important things you need to create in order to have a good relationship (Seppä and Tanev, 2011). So how should hotels use the social web in order to co-create?
We have seen that Twitter and hotels can be a good fit in my previous blog about the social listening strategy of the first Twitter hotel in the world: Sol Wave House. However, a recent study found that Instagram and the hotel industry seem to be a perfect match as well (Gaggioli, 2015). Tourism products are experience goods. These are products or services whose value can only be determined by consuming or experiencing them. It is not something people buy regularly and without really thinking. People need to be 100 percent convinced (Collier, 2012). Therefore Instagram is the perfect tool to capture the attention and inspire future guests.
Instagram provides the opportunity to expand a brand’s story in a different way than other social media platforms. Yes, Facebook and Twitter can tell one side of the hotel’s story as well, but Instagram takes it a step further. They tell the story with an image (Gaggioli, 2015). If you had the choice between reading a text about the beautiful white-sandy beaches and incredibly blue ocean or looking at a picture of this stunning destination, which option would you choose? I bet you would choose for the image. Great photos grab attention and convey a sense of desire to travel. They don’t require text because they are worth a thousand words itself (Review Pro, 2015).
Furthermore a study from Forrester Research (2014) found that Instagram conveys 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and even 120 times more engagement than Twitter (Review Pro, 2015).
The Hamilton Hotel in Australia is a good example of a hotel using Instagram to create a long lasting relationship and co-creation. The hotel is known for its tropical scenery and uses Instagram to show this beauty to the world. Normally the hotel would upload photos themselves to show this, but they did it differently. They started the program “InstaMeet”. For this program, 25 individuals were selected to come to the Hamilton Island for a weekend. They received the possibility to see the beauty in real-life and capture these online on Instagram with which they reached over 815.000 followers alone. The pictures were shared on other social media platform as well (Hamilton Island, 2012).
This event increased the resort’s Instagram followers from 269 to 9.028. Their Facebook followers increased as well, from 18.478 to 22.791. Notable is that it didn’t stop after this event. Another similar event was created a year later.
As you can see, they add value by using user generated content. User generated content is seen is important to many people and one way of co-creating with customers. Social media is becoming more important every day. In today’s world, it can make and break your hotel.
Collier, N. (2012, April). Experience Goods, Credence Goods, Search Goods | NSCBlog. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from http://www.nscblog.com/miscellaneous/experience-goods-credence-goods-search-goods/
Gaggioli, A. (2015, November). How the Hospitality Industry Wins on Instagram – Cloudbeds. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from https://www.cloudbeds.com/articles/how-the-hospitality-industry-wins-on-instagram/
Hamilton Island. (2012, October). Ultimate Instameet | Stories from Hamilton Island. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from http://www.hamiltonisland.com.au/blog/hamilton-island-s-ultimate-instameet#moXkiJIuYva2AGxY.97
Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. United Kingdom: Pearson Education Unlimited.
Review Pro. (2015, August). Instagram for Hotels: Why to Get Active and How to Be Effective. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from https://www.reviewpro.com/blog/instagram-for-hotels/
Seppä, M., & Tanev, S. (2011, March). The Future of Co-Creation | TIM Review. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from http://timreview.ca/article/423