The connection between personal selling and social commerce within the hotel industry


In order to increase customer retention and build brand loyalty, companies must understand the complexities of social commerce and identify opportunities to maintain customer engagement after the initial purchase. Based on the word cloud social commerce means “a subset of electronic commerce that involves using social media, online media that supports social interaction and user contributions, to assist in the online buying and selling of products and services.” (Dr. Paul Marsden, 2009)

According to Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013) you can distinguish between 3 different types of sales approaches that match the purchasing situation mentioned in the definition of social commerce. The sales approaches can be divided into two categories: Transactional sales and complex sales ( consultative & strategic sales).

Within the hotel industry it is important that the hotels focus on the complex sales in connection with social commerce. The success of consultative sales is defined by being able to uncover hidden needs or requirements and tailoring the offering to the customer. (Peelen & Beltman, 2013) With the aid of social media it is possible to open doors that otherwise would remain shut. This medium helps the hotel to really get to know their customer personal preference and they could adapt to it.

A few years ago, it was sufficient enough to send product updates via Facebook and Twitter. But nowadays, companies must create an online experience equipped with product videos, peer reviews, and comparison charts. As you can see social media channels give consumers a new way to interact with brands 24/7.

It is very important for hotels to adapt to these changes because millions of people log on to their Facebook accounts, they can discuss criticisms directly with sales reps, comment on the latest trends with friends, and post pictures of their favorite products.

Did you know that in 2012 approximately 80% of internet traffic will be driven by video? (L2, 2016) If you think this is not related to the travel industry, you’re wrong. According to a recent study, two of three U.S consumers watch video travel when they’re thinking about a trip. (Crowel, Gribben, & Looc, 2014) For example, around 85% of YouTube travel searches concentrate on destinations, activities, points of interest and general travel ideas

In conclusion Inspiration can come from anywhere. From a conversation to a movie, and once there’s the intention to travel somewhere, travelers will find as much information as they can. Which makes it very important for hotels to focus on social commerce.


Crowel, H., Gribben, H., & Looc, J. (2014, August). Travel content takes off on Youtube. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from Think with googl:

L2. (2016, August 1). Intelligence report video 2016. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from L2inc:

Paul, M. d. (2009, November 17). simple definition of social commerce. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from Digital intelligence today:

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. United Kingdom: Pearon Education Limited.




Co-creation within the hotel industry

Every interaction with guests has a direct impact on the way they experience their visit, this is what make the hotel industry a very complicated environment. The product is an experience itself, so it is very important that it levels with the expectations of the guest.

However, the negative experiences of guest spread much faster and further throughout the world, and they stay longer than positive experiences. This makes it very important to make the customers experience the number one priority in the hotel industry. On these days it is extra important than ever before because now there are multiple online review and social media platforms which gives the customers the chance to rapidly share their experience with a wide range of people. (Mahmoud, 2015)

Interacting with your customers is what the hotel industry is all about, this is why it is an ideal environment for co-creation. According to Peelen and Beltman (2013) co-creation has social advantages because people from different backgrounds are being brought together. However, the biggest advantage that can be achieved is when co-created products or services are distributed freely among users. There have been several attempts at co-creation within this sector. Unfortunately most of these are some form of customer engagement, for example a crowdsource or survey to get input from customers.

According to Prahalad and Ramaswamy (2004), the success of co-creation is dependent on several factors which is described in the DART principles: Dialogue (the way to talk with your customers), Access, Risk and Transparency.

A recent example of an online ideation is the Starwood’s Marriott Travel Brilliantly initiative. It is a well-executed online platform that invites guests to submit ideas and vote on other guests’ ideas. But actually it is nothing more than an online suggestion box. This is another way of market research through a personalized online channel. (Marriot, 2016)

Several years earlier Starwood was also the first real-world hospitality company to open a virtual hotel in Second Life. It was used to learn and test-market their new hotel concept Aloft and rapidly prototype the evolving concept. The project was also an effort to tap consumers for ideas. (Marriot, 2016)



Mahmoud, A. (2015, April 16). Retrieved from Customer Experience Strategy for hotels and how it can Generate More Revenues:

Marriot. (2016, October 4). Marriot is changing travel. Retrieved from Travel brilliantly:

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. United Kingdom: Pearon Education Limited.

Stylus. (2013, March 19). Design Hotels’ Co-Creation Competition, Helsinki. Retrieved from Stylus:

Data Mining and Customer Relationships in the hotel industry


From creating a personalised strategy to putting out the fire when crisis’ hits, all of these are made possible when you listen in and monitor the conversations your consumers are having.

One of the challenges presented by CRM is to make explicit the implicit customer knowledge found in the minds of the contact persons, so that it can be recorded, distributed and used for a larger group of customers. Current experiences with data analysis are still somewhat sad. The data-mining techniques which have been launched have not yet produced the kinds of results which were originally expected of them, and statistical techniques are laborious, place many demands on the data material and cannot handle all the issues. On the other hand, it is encouraging that a portion of these results can be explained as restricting from unskilled and careless use of the techniques. (peelen and Beltman, 2013)

One of these techniques is called Social listening. It can identify particular problems in a business, discover how competitors are doing and find topics of particular interest to a target market. But it seems computers are yet to understand the tones of irony and sarcasm, so there can be a great deal of confusion when it comes to deciding what percentage of comments is negative and which isn’t. The key for the hotel industry is to understand these tones of irony and sarcasm and respond to these comments. (Matthews, 2016)

Imagine that you are a marketing manager for a hotel. You are responsible for managing the relationships with the hotel’s customers. One of your current concerns is customer attention, which has been troubling severely into your margins. You understand that the cost of making them loyal is significantly less than the cost of attracting new customers, so you need to figure out a cost-effective way of doing this.

According to Thearling (2016)The traditional approach to solving this problem is to pick out your good customers (that is, the ones who spend a lot of money within the hotel) and try to persuade them to book for another period in your hotel. This persuasion might involve some sort of gift (possibly a bottle of wine) or maybe a discount on the room. The value of the gift might be based on the amount that a customer spends, with big spenders receiving the best offers.

This solution is probably very wasteful. There are undoubtedly many “good” customers who would be willing to stick around without receiving an expensive gift. The customers to concentrate on are the ones that will be leaving. Don’t worry about the ones who will stay. (thearling, 2016)

This solution to the customer attention problem has been turned around from the way in which it should be perceived. Instead of providing the customer with something that is proportional to their value to your hotel, you should instead be providing the customer with something proportional to your value to them. Give your customers what they need.

There are differences between your customers, and you need to understand those differences in order to optimize your relationships. One big spending customer might value the relationship because of your high reliability, and thus wouldn’t need a gift in order to continue with it. On the other hand, a customer who takes advantage of all of the latest special offers and special services might require a better deal or other gift in order to stick around for another year. Or they might simply want a better room rate because they want a more luxurious room for less money . The key is determining which type of customer you’re dealing with.

According to Thearling (2016) Considering the timing is very important. You can’t wait until a week before a customer’s is making the booking and then pitch them an offer in order to prevent them from considering another hotel. By then, they have likely decided what they are going to do and you are unlikely to affect their decision at such a late date. On the other hand, you don’t have to start the process immediately upon persuading a customer. It might be months before they have an understanding of your company’s value to them, so any efforts now would also be wasted. The key is finding the correct middle ground, which could very well come from your understanding of your market and the customers in that market.


Matthews, D. (2016, September 1). Racounteur. Retrieved from How connected data is targeting consumers:

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. United Kingdom: Pearon Education Limited.

Thearling, K. (2016, October 3). Retrieved from Data mining and customer relationships:



Increase customer intimacy between hotels and customers via live chat

According to blogger sven (2016) messaging and chat are the big customer service trends of 2016, and at this moment hotels started with experimenting with different ways to give guests an additional communication channel through messaging applications like Facebook messenger for Business and Whatsapp.  According to Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013) the value discipline that fits best with the CRM strategy is customer intimacy discipline. With customer intimacy discipline the hotels have the opportunity to get to know their customer and develop a long-term profitable relationship with the customer. The hotel industry exploits on the chat trend through live chat tools. Think of implementing directly on their websites to give guests a direct line to customer service as they are researching or booking a hotel.

What are live chat tools?
Actually a live chat tool is an instant messaging system that is specifically assigned to your website. It is a tool to connect potential customers to a service representative in real time. The representative, a customer service agent, is able to use the software from a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Customers can use many platforms to access the chat as well, which leads to conveniently and efficiency approach for the customers. (Dunn, 2016)

Nowadays, live chat tools have added features such as tracking and archiving so companies are able to save and document the interactions with their customers. Various live chats include traffic analysis and traffic monitoring, giving companies more insight into the customer interactions.

How live chat tools can increase customer intimacy with the customers?
The first interaction often takes place on the website, that a potential customer will have with the hotel. It is important to know if a customer would visit the website right now, how would they be greeted? Would they have to search through different menus to find answers on their questions. The opportunity of live chats are the ability to give a good first impression by allowing those questions to be answered directly by an actual person. It adds a personal and human touch to the online presence.

Another benefit of live chats is that companies have the opportunity to address specific questions that may not be addressed on the website. For example, it can allow representatives to discuss their preferences of their stay or requirements of the facilities. It allows representatives to make recommendations to customers all based on their interests and needs.

Furthermore, a live chat allows companies to respond on customers’ concerns and questions in real time at point of research or sale. Which helps to simplify the decision-making process and builds trust with the brand/company, ultimately increasing the customer relationship.

In a 2010 study, 44 percent of respondents indicated that the ability to have questions addressed and answered by a live representative was one of the most important features of a website. Live chat has a satisfaction level of 73 percent, the highest among all customer service channels. (Email came in at 61 percent while phone came in at 44 percent.) (Arrazola, Herrera, Mothais, & Marcos, 2013)

In another survey, 63 percent of customers indicated that they would be more likely to return to and use a website that has live chat than one that does not. (emarketer, 2009)


Arrazola, V., Herrera, S., Mothais, B., & Marcos, M.-C. (2013).Trustiness in costumer/user chat services: the importance of design. Barcelona:

Dunn, H. (2016, May 20). Retrieved from Live Chat Customer Support: What is Live Chat?:

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. United Kingdom: Pearon Education Limited.

emarketer. (2009, August 19). How Helpful Is Live Chat?Retrieved from Emarketer:

Sven. (2016, March 15). Userlike. Retrieved from 7 Realistic Customer Service Trends for 2016: