Does responding to Social Media Boosts a Company’s Bottom Line?

Business owners are increasingly interested in the effect of social media on their businesses since this is growing with the years. No matter if they’re concerned or excited, they know social media is changing the game now and in the future. The hospitality industry has already experienced the impact social media can have on their business and they know this can result in a positive either negative result (Medallia, n.d.). Before the upcoming trend of review sites such as TripAdvisor, business unit managers were much more in control of their brand image and reputation. Nowadays a growing number of people is using one of these reviewing in order to make a decision where to go or what to do.

Social media is not just a simple marketing tool, nowadays it is one of the biggest tools with a lot of impact as well. Social media has had an immense impact in pretty much all aspects of our lives. It has changed the way we behave and  it has as well an effect on how people chose to travel. Hotels and other businesses within the travel industry are finally beginning to understand that ways of a focused approach to Social Media can help create a strong brand and boosts their company’s bottom line. It helps drive sales and it is creating and maintaining better relationships with customers as well as to provide the perfect tool to interact directly and faster with them. Medallia study finds that hotels that respond to social media reviews grow occupancy rates faster than social media laggards  As Peelen & Beltman describe in their book, the web also offers a place for marketers where they can seek cooperation with customers and it offers plenty of opportunities to co-create.

The stronger the emotional connection a customer develops with your hotel the more chances there are of that customer coming back and becomes a loyal customer. Customer retention and co-creation is one of the main factors that will guarantee its success (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)

Imagine the great satisfaction potential and loyal customers can get from receiving an personal and fast reply on their comment or question on a reviewing site or on one of their social media channels. It will show not only that you care about their opinions and inquiries, but it will also shows that your company is efficient, fast and acts like a well-oiled machine and in case of hotels, this means a guarantee of bookings and a growth of loyal customers (webcoursesbankok.com, 2016).

So yes, responding to social media boosts a company’s bottom line! And maybe social media will be the future bottom line… who knows?

Bibliography

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

Responding to Social Media Boosts a Company’s Bottom Line – Medallia. (n.d.). Retrieved October 16, 2016, from http://www.medallia.com/press-release/responding-social-media-boosts-companys-bottom-line-new-research-finds/

(2016). 7 Ways Hotels Can Benefit From Social Networks – Web Courses Bangkok. Retrieved October 10, 2016, fromhttp://www.webcoursesbangkok.com/blog/7-ways-hotels-can-benefit-from-social-networks/

 

 

 

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How can customer segmentation lead to personalization?

Customer segmentation is the way a company chooses individual people to sell their products and services to and find out the best possible way to target them and their wants and needs. Market segmentation means dividing the market or target group into groups based on characteristics from the specific market. Therefore targeting can be done in an effective and efficient way. Individuals in the same segment have specific communication tools or behavior in common. In general, a market can be divided into four different groups which are demographic, geographic, psychographic and benefit oriented (Beltman & Peelen, 2013).

A market can be segmented in different ways with different techniques. An example of a technique that can be used is the Chaid or Cart analysis and the RMF model (Peelen, 2002). By using the data of these techniques markets can be easily divided and services can be personalized.

A good example of a hotel company that uses this segmentation to personalize their experience is Hilton World Wide. Hilton Worldwide targets several segments at the same time. They do this by having different brand at the same time under the same Chain. Under Hilton Worldwide are 13 smaller brands such as Double Tree, Conrad and Hilton Garden Inn which all have their own segment. Therefore they can personalize their service for each different brand and each different segment, which works very well.

Another thing that Hilton Worldwide applies in their brand to personalize the experience for the several segments is a new app which is called Fun Finder. This app is made with the objective of being an personal travel guide. Guests who use the app can use maps, information about events, get notifications of special events and features to personalize the specific preferences of the guests. The idea behind the app is to make a personalized experience for the guests which are built on guest preference, place of the guest and at least time. The experience is personal for everyone since Hilton can make it a different experience based on the time of the day and the place you are.  Therefore the right information can be given on the right time which makes the whole experience more personalized than ever. This concept is the future since they use technology and GPS to deliver targeted messages and information (skift.com, 2016). It is a perfect way to show how they use and combine segmentation to create more personalization and hotels should definitely use this as an example to create a more personalized environment for their customers.

Bibliography

Hilton Hotels Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning – Research Methodology. (2016). Retrieved October 03, 2016, from http://research-methodology.net/hilton-hotels-segmentation/

Hilton’s Newest App Feature Ups the Game in Guest Personalization (2016). Retrieved October 03, 2016, fromhttps://skift.com/2016/09/06/hiltons-newest-app-feature-ups-the-game-in-guest-personalization

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management(Vol. 2). Boston: Pearson Education Limited. Retrieved September 28, 2016

 

 

Why does the hotel industry need customer journey mapping?

According to Beltman and Peelen (2013) a customer journey mapping strategy makes it easier to identify the needs, wants and expectations of the individual travelers which makes sure that the airlines can provide appropriate products and services at each touchpoint throughout their journey. In this case it is focused on the airline industry but what about customer journey mapping in the hotel industry?

Customer journey mapping is a process in which the hotel tracks and describes all the experiences and steps that customers have when they encounter a service or a set of services. During the customer mapping they  take into account what happens to the customers and how they respond on this experience. It is about the knowledge what happens to your customers when they do business with you during every step of the way. Customer journey mapping provides the additional customer insight necessary to provide easy solutions for customer segments at the right moments (Lenati.com, 2015).

As well as in the airline industry, in the hotel industry it is one of the most important things to do: engaging with your guests and building long-lasting relationships. The journey is as important as the destination  but also even important for the total image the customer gets. The customer journey consists of the different stages or the so-called ‘touchpoints’ a guests goes through. It starts with the pre-stay including the website, social media, booking channels and arrival information. The next touchpoint is the hotel-stay which includes the check-in, entering the room and the in-room experience. The last touchpoints are during the post-stay and includes user reviews and engagement (Beltman & Peelen, 2013).

For hotels, it’s important to remember that the experience  a guest will have starts actually a long time before they have direct contact and interaction with a brand.  It starts when these guests begin to research and explore their options for an upcoming trip.

Planning is crucial to make every stage of this journey easier and more enjoyable for each  customer and you end up with great customer experiences in return.  For example: customers exploring their next trip may find very different programs that improve their experience than the customers in the planning stage do and who are getting ready to travel.  And customers who are traveling for business will go through a whole different travel journey exploration process than those who just want to plan a holiday.

As hotels gain a better understanding of their different important customer groups and the behaviors, needs and wants that define these groups, they are ready to develop targeted experiences for each group. Benefits could be giving staff the training and tools to empathize with these different types of customers to make it more personal.  Through different tests and programs, hotel chains can further refine what best improves the experience and results for each unique customer group. Over time, this process will enable development of a strong customer experience strategy designed to target the right customers in the right way at each stage of the journey.  Along the way, hotels will develop a total understanding of key customer behaviors and needs – and the kind of services, packages, programs, benefits, marketing, and personal services that make a difference for their guests (Lenati, n.d).

To conclude I can say that customer journey mapping will definitely  result in improving your brand, staff,  communication with the guests, and your company in general. The experience will become more personal and targeted than before which is important for customer engagement management of a hotel chain or other brand. In the end, customer journey mapping will lead to better and more personalized experiences for the guests and loyal customers which will potentially lead to more sales in the end. Therefore every brand should start customer journey mapping now, to understand your own customers better.

Bibliography

Customer Journey Mapping Presentation – Lenati. (n.d.). Retrieved October 16, 2016, from http://www.lenati.com/publication/customer-journey-mapping-5-steps-to-improve-sales-and-loyalty-in-omnichannel/request/

 

Home Away From Home: Customer Experience in Hospitality. (2015). Retrieved October 16, 2016, from http://www.lenati.com/blog/2015/09/a-home-away-from-home-customer-experience-in-hospitality/

 

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). The customer proposition. In Customer relationship

management(2nd ed., pp. 208 – 213). Edinburgh Gate, United Kingdom: Pearson

Education.

What is the effect of loyalty programs in hotel chains?

 

Loyalty of a customer has been recognized as the most important and dominant factor in a business organization’s success. Every business and industry strives for loyal customers, including the hotel industry. But what exactly is loyalty and what does this mean for the hotel industry?

According to Peelen & Beltman (2013), as they describe in their book customer relationship management, Customer Loyalty is a commitment to buy back the preferred brand, product or service in the future again, no matter if changes in the environment happen or in marketing that may lead to different behavior. For the hotel industry this loyal behavior means booking the same hotel again, or booking the same chain but in a different place. But staying loyal to that specific brand.

Many hotels these days offer their customers loyalty programs to make it more interesting for their customers to book again since they get a lot of benefits in return (e.g discount, gifts, early check-in or late check-out). But why are these loyalty programs good and what are the benefits for the returning customers?

Generating new business and attracting customers requires a lot of investment in both marketing and advertising. It definitely costs a lot of money and is not even effective all the time. It is far more logical to develop a steady flow of returning customers. Research carried out by Second Opinion Marketing (n.d.) found out that it cost five to eight times less to retain and keep existing customers than attracting new ones and spend a lot of money to get their attention (gogroupbooking.com, n.d.).

A hotel loyalty program is very easy and works kind of the same as the airline industry with their frequent flyer miles. Loyal guests will receive awards when they book again and earn points. Awards in this the case of a hotel can range from a free room update, free treatments, guaranteed room availability and more. The ladder format would fit best for a hotel loyalty program. A ladder format means: the more points loyal guests earn, the more valuable rewards they get. This system makes it more effective.  Of course not all loyalty programs are the same and works like this point system, but it is a very common and popular one. There are a lot of loyalty programs but not every one of them is suitable for the hotel industry for example partner with a company to offer all-inclusive deals

There are more forms of loyalty. Pearson (n.d.)  mentions that when you deliver a relevant customer experience you will create customer intimacy, which will eventually lead into emotional loyalty.

Emotional loyalty describes the fact that customers choose to stay with one specific hotel, even when a competitor has a better or cheaper alternative. But how is it possible to turn that massive amount of data we collected into satisfied customers and emotionally loyal customers?

Let’s have a look at a specific case. A man has to visit the same city every time for business purposes. He stays in your hotel each time he travels to this specific city. A loyal customer? You may think so. But what happens when a new hotel opens closer to his meeting location? I bet this loyal customer will leave you because he is not as loyal as you thought.

But what will happen if you personalize his experience? What will happen when the doorman greets him by his name, his room preferences are taken into account, and the receptionist at the desk is informing him about a soccer game he is interested in takes place this evening and she can arrange a ticket for him? But also when he gets a discount, a room upgrade or when he can check in earlier than others because he is a loyal customer? That would completely change the experience, doesn’t it? At these moments you are performing great on customer intimacy and your customer will build emotional loyalty for your hotel.

In the digital area we live in we can see that contact with customers is more important than it ever was. The traditional customer intimacy is not enough anymore. Data is collected continuously and customers are targeted at every moment in order to deliver the best customer experience. There is a desire for more. The new customer intimacy is customer obsession.

So the question is now, do loyalty programs but also intimacy benefit hotel chains or are they a waste of time and money?

The Centre for Hospitality Research carried out a research about 50,000 hotels in the United States which took two year. They carried out whether loyalty programs were worth the time and money to invest in and it there are possible other and better ways to get these loyal customers.

This study found out that since the guest signed up to a hotel’s loyalty program the frequency of stays booked by that person at that hotel grew on average with 49%. Also they found out that because of these loyalty programs  the bedroom revenue rised with about 57% in comparison to hotels without a loyalty program (gogroupbooking.com, n.d.).  So yes we can say that a loyalty program benefits a hotel chain and it’s definitely not a waste of time or a waste of money when doing it in the right way.

Bibliography

Pearson, B., (n.d.), “The most successful way to ensure a guest’s happiness is customer intimacy”, Retrieved 13 September, 2016, from http://hotelexecutive.com/business_review/2998/the-most-successful-way-to-ensure-a-guests-happiness-is-customer-intimacy

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

Why Hotel Loyalty Programs are Good for Hotels. (n.d.). Retrieved September 13, 2016, from https://gogroupbooking.com/why-hotel-loyalty-programs-are-good-for-hotels/