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More guest engagement on social networks can translate to more rooms filled for hotels
While boutique hotels have done a great job of being current with online trends, many of the bigger brands have been playing catchup, especially in the area of social media.
Many hotel brands have recently included Facebook and Twitter share buttons to their websites but only recently have these hospitality companies realized the need to put aside a portion of their budget for social media campaigns.
A poll conducted by TravelClick indicates that hotels are significantly increasing the 2012 marketing budgets, specifically for social campaigns.
"Marketers will begin to transition from 'one-time placement and click of ads' toward 'ongoing engagement' with the Internet user and will therefore allocate a higher percentage of their advertising budget to social networking sites," Neha Gupta, senior research analyst at the research group Gartner, said in a statement.
"This is mainly because social networking sites, with the help of social analytics firms, are able to unlock the interconnected data structures of users - mapping lists of friends, their comments and messages, photos and all their social connections, contact information and associated media."
Researchers at Gartner have estimated that worldwide social media revenues will exceed $10 billion in 2012 -- approximately a 41.4 percent rise from 2010.
A separate study by global consulting company McKinsey deduced that companies needed to reexamine the business model in order to succeed in the our digitally-dependent world. According to McKinsey, this will involve establishing new structures, metrics and processes to ensure that marketing and sales are linked to all areas of the company and encourage interaction from the audience.
Nearly half of the hotels surveyed plan to increase the social media and mobile sections of their marketing budgets in order to turn online engagement into more room bookings.
This is an encouraging and positive trend to get brick and mortar companies to transition and get comfortable in the online space but assuring that the investments result in more revenue is a challenge.
How social media can help fill hotels
Communicating and engaging with guests is second nature to most quality hotels, but that level of interaction can translate to social media and mobile elements. Some hotels are asking if their concierges can follow them on Twitter and assist them via social media to make their stay better. Some perks for this extension is that if you tweet a problem, the hotel spokesperson can quickly addresses it, and some hotels will offer perks to guests that give glowing tweets -- sometimes even upgrades.
Other avenues rest in the automated systems that book rooms. Some hoteliers are integrating perks into the booking processes by providing an opportunity for guests to share their upcoming stay by incentivizing them with offers such as a guest room upgrade.
The studies have found that this level of engagement is far greater than traditional marketing to translate into measurable income.
Soon, just the act of sharing your vacation photos could win you a stay at the hotel used as a backdrop in you shots.
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