How can social media contribute to customer engagement management in the hotel industry?

The rise of social media has a massive impact on the hotel industry. Travelers use different social media channels to do research and share their personal reviews with the rest of the world, whether they had a positive or negative experience. Hotels cannot longer ignore the impact of social media on their business. Social media has become a natural marketing tool for hotels and it provides a chance to engage with customers (The Impact of Social Media on the Tourism Industry, 2015). In this blog we take a closer look at the role of social media in the hotel industry.

Because of the increase in social network and the influence of sites like TripAdvisor and Zoover, businesses in the hotel industry are forced to implement social media strategies. Studies have shown that consumers nowadays are more likely to check reviews on social media channels before they commit to a company (Begwani, 2014). Most big hotel companies already have teams that reply to social media comments on a daily basis. This is necessary according to Patu Keswani (chairman and managing director at Lemon Tree Hotels India): ‘’An individual can do significant damage to your brand simply by one online post.’’ Tree Hotels gets 30 to 40 comments every day and Keswani claims his team responds to all of them (Begwani, 2014).

The hotel chain Hilton is very successful when it comes down to customer engagement management through social media. They managed to create an online concierge who welcomes the guests via Twitter, before the guests even arrived at the hotel. Moreover Hilton reacts to tweets posted by tourists to give them advise about the destination they are visiting. This creates a bond between the customer and the brand and guests will be more likely to stay loyal to the Hilton Hotels (Tuin, 2015).

Social media channels gives hotels the opportunity to approach customers in an individual way, interact with them and eventually build relationships. Unfortunately, most businesses are still not using social media in the right way. According to The Guardian, still 58% of consumers who tweet about a negative customer experience won’t receive a reply from the company they have an issue with (Sklar, 2013). The consequences in this case are noticeable: it costs revenue in the short term and it damages the brand on the long term. Because if the company fails to serve the customer’s expectations, they will move on quickly (Sklar, 2013).

Engaged customers, on the other hand, are key when it comes to engagement through social media. They are loyal to your brand and have the power to influence other social media users in a positive way. Nowadays social media channels are one of the largest communication channels, and by truly listening to your customer your organization has the power to turn negative experiences into positive ones (Sklar, 2013).

Bibliography

Begwani, S. (2014). The Social Media Mandate for the Hotel Industry.

Sklar, C. (2013, Maart 13). How to use social media to understand and engage your customers. Opgeroepen op Oktober 8, 2016, van The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/media-network/media-network-blog/2013/mar/13/social-media-customer-engagement

The Impact of Social Media on the Tourism Industry. (2015, September 23). Opgeroepen op Oktober 8, 2016, van hospitalitynet: http://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/4071855.html

Tuin, C. (2015, Maart 27). Top 10 social media hotels. Opgeroepen op Oktober 8, 2016, van Hospitality Management: http://www.hospitality-management.nl/top-10-social-media-hotels-video-14074

 

How to use big data in the hotel industry?

The rise of social media and the use of mobile devices results in a massive growth in generated data. Big data contains a lot of useful information about your (potential) clients, but how can you use this data to book success? Not only the enormous extent makes it complicated but also the variety of data sources makes it hard to gather valuable information that can be useful for your business (Tuil, 2011).

Data mining is the solution to find connections in large datasets and this strategy can play a big role in the hotel industry to maximize customer engagement. With datamining you analyze large quantities of data in order to discover meaningful patterns, trends and possible threats. For hotels it is necessary to use data mining in order to sift through massive data so they can anticipate to customer needs and eventually build a valuable relationship (Chamelian, 2015).

Without datamining, valuable marketing insights may be missing, like customers’ characteristics and purchase patterns. Because success not only depends on collecting data, but more so on how well you are able to convert this data into useful information that can help to manage your business and be successful. Data mining can help to formulate marketing strategies, improve guest experiences, increase loyalty and can eventually lead to maximize profits (Chamelian, 2015).

Data mining techniques help to discover patterns and relationships that can be used to predict the potential value of each customer. Because a returning customer is always cheaper than attracting new ones.
Data mining can help to:

  • Create direct-mail campaigns
  • Plan seasonal promotions
  • Plan the timing and placement of ad campaigns
  • Create personalized advertisements
  • Define which market segments are growing most rapidly
  • Determine the number of rooms to reserve for wholesale customers and business travelers (P.Magnini, Honeycutt, & K.Hodge, 2009)

Especially seasonal promotions is a key element for hotels. For example, if the online behavior is changing and people are searching for a particular destination in the winter season, the hotels can adapt to this behavior and change their online promotion.

Customers’ needs, preferences, wishes and behavior is always changing and it is crucial for businesses in the hotel industry to continuously adapt and react to these changes. Data mining is necessary to keep being relevant towards your customers and stay ahead of competitors (Kim, Lin, & Wang, 2009).

 

Bibliography

Chamelian, S. (2015, September 9). Using data mining and analytics to your hotel’s advantage. Opgeroepen op Oktober 2, 2016, van eHotelier.

Kim, S., Lin, L.-C., & Wang, Y. (2009). Data Mining Applications in the Hospitality Industry.

P.Magnini, V., Honeycutt, E. D., & K.Hodge, S. (2009). Data Mining For Hotel Firms: Use and Limitations.

Tuil, K. v. (2011, Augustus 26). Wat is datamining? Opgeroepen op Oktober 2, 2016, van Computerworld: http://computerworld.nl/business-intelligence/74941-wat-is-datamining

 

Empathy: the key to customer satisfaction

With all the online communication channels nowadays like review sites and online media, it seems like the walls of the hotels are made of glass and the service they provide is transparent for everyone to see. This is one of the reasons why the hotel industry is focusing more than ever on guest service excellence (How to help staff emphatize with guests, 2015). Empathy is necessary to get satisfied customers. But what does empathy really mean? And how can we apply this in the hotel industry?

Empathy – defined as ‘’identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings and motives’’ – is key when it comes to delivering a great customer experience (Understanding The Role Of Empathy In The Customer Experience, 2013). In other terms: you need to know how your customers feel in order to react in the right way and provide the customer with everything they wish for.

To show an example of a hotel with excellent customer service, we take a look at Hotel lebua in Bangkok. According to Deepak Ohri (Chief Executive Officer, lebua Hotels & Resorts) satisfaction is in the emotional connection guests have with the hotel and service. The staff of lebua Hotel is trained to connect with guests on an emotional level and meet their needs and preferences. ‘’We design services to show guests we understand and care about their needs’’ (Ohri, 2013).

Most travelers spend over 24 hours traveling to Thailand and are exhausted when they finally arrive at the airport. lebua Hotel offers a Welcome Escort who meets guests at the airport, helps carrying their luggage and escorts them to the hotel by a car filled with healthy drinks and food. They make sure the customer feels treated and welcome from the minute they arrive in the country (Ohri, 2013).

Mister Ohri claims that businesses must invest into a deeper level of service. You have to concentrate on receiving an emotional response from your guest in order to be successful on the long term. According to the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio: ‘’We are not thinking machines. We are feeling machines that think.’’ (Batchelor, 2012).

Developing an emotional bond with your customer differentiates a hotel from their competitors and helps to create a deep relationship between the business and the consumer. Empathy can be seen as the fundamental part of customer engagement management. If you, as a business, can put yourself in your customer’s shoes and react to their wishes and preferences you can truly make a difference. Because there is nothing more powerful than an unexpected gesture (Goh, 2015).

Bibliography

Batchelor, A. (2012). We are feeling machines that think.

Goh, G. (2015, Februari 20). Empathy: The Must-Have Skill For All Customer Service Reps. Opgeroepen op September 25, 2016, van RAMP: http://www.insightsquared.com/2015/02/empathy-the-must-have-skill-for-all-customer-service-reps/

How to help staff emphatize with guests. (2015, April 20). Opgeroepen op September 25, 2016, van HotelNewsNow: http://www.hotelnewsnow.com/Articles/25798/How-to-help-staff-empathize-with-guests

Ohri, D. (2013). Service: An Emotional Connection. Opgeroepen op September 25, 2016, van HBR Hotel Business Review: http://hotelexecutive.com/business_review/3493/service-an-emotional-connection

Understanding The Role Of Empathy In The Customer Experience. (2013, September 24). Opgeroepen op September 22, 2016, van CMO: http://www.cmo.com/opinion/articles/2013/9/24/understanding_the_ro.html#gs.0R2t8SA