The social media arena offers a whole range of possibilities for hotel chains to engage with their customers. Seizing all the opportunities of social media, by being presence on every social network, is not beneficial for hotel chains. By offering theoretic accessibility, the hotel chains might seem very accessible, but in practice they are not equipped to handle this volume of contacts. In the research performed by Chan & Guillet (2011), they found that among the 67 hotels in Hong Kong they researched, 48 hotels did not respond to the inquiries and reviews of guests. This lack of accessibility can lead to negative word of mouth and should therefore be avoided. In order to do so, hotel chains should develop their own multichannel strategy based on the optimal channel combination for their company.
To come to the optimal channel combination a company needs to answer the following sub-questions:
- What range of channels will we offer to customers in different segments and which channels facilitate the different ‘touch points’ during the customer journey?
For this question, it is important that the hotel chain gets a clear insight into the different segments and focus on what type of social media their customers are most active (Peelen & Beltman, 2013).
For example, in the image below you can get an insight in the different preferences of social media of segments based on gender, age, income and education.
(Social Media Demographics, 2010)
The data in the image is not sufficient enough to answer this question, the company should also take a look at personality characteristics, ‘top –of-mind awareness’ of a channel and many other factors. By collecting this data, the hotel chains can make a selection based on what the most successful social media channels are in their case and take a look at how these different channels can facilitate the ‘touch points’. If a hotel chain succeeds to use the social media channels that their customers are most active on and they use them at the right moment based on the different ‘touch points’, a hotel chain will become more accessible to their customers.
- What degree of differentiation will we apply?
In the case of Hilton, there are two different pages on Facebook: one general and one for the members of Hilton HHonors (their loyalty programme). By having this extra Facebook page, Hilton is able to respond to the loyal members faster, which means they differentiate between members and non-members of Hilton HHonors.
Facebook Hilton HHonors
- Can we control being present on these channels?
This last question about testing the chosen channel combination through answering three questions:
– Can the organisation still reinforce the customer experience with this channel combination?
– Are the costs manageable?
– Is the accessibility in terms of performance manageable?
(Peelen & Beltman, 2013)
When one of these questions is answered negatively and the channel combination is still applied, this can lead to theoretic accessibility, because the organisation does not have the resources needed for that channel combination.
In conclusion, it is necessary for hotel chains to find out what their optimal channel combination is, so they can offer their customers the best experience. However, it is important that they realise that social media strategies need to be adjusted to customer needs in the future and therefore the optimal channel combination has to be checked regularly to see whether it is still efficient.
Chan, N.L. & Guillet, B.D. (2011). Investigation of Social Media Marketing: How Does the Hotel Industry in Hong Kong Perform in Marketing on Social Websites? Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 28 (4)
ePublicist (Consulting Group) (2011). Social Media [Illustration]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com
Social Media Demographics [Illustration]. (2010). Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com
Peelen, E. & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management (Second Edition). Amsterdam: Pearson Education Benelux BV.