Next year has all the makings of an exciting year for the global travel industry, despite the lingering woes – and hangover affect of the recession – with hospitality companies looking poised to latch onto new technologies, including making moves to develop social media strategies and to embrace this unavoidable trend.
So said Rory Montgomery, marketing executive at Hospitality Technology International (HTI), Africa’s leading developer of hospitality software used by more than 2 500 hotels and lodges.
Montgomery said that social media was “pivotal and part of the limelight” in the hospitality industry during this year, with this trend “undoubtedly set to continue”.
He said the travel industry – and the hospitality industry at large – will increasingly find ways to leverage off social media and marketing to engage with on-line audiences. “Digital and viral strategies are excellent ways to evoke an emotional or positive response from a target audience and within the hospitality industry this is no different. Hotels can sell an experience, coupled with a ‘tangible’ product – such as a luscious bed overlooking white beaches with a cold glass of champagne to boot. The objective is to evoke an emotional buying response through visible media on social networking sites, as well as on their own website”.
“It is a fact that life is becoming more of an on-line, or cyber world – and that social media sites are becoming part of the fabric of life, whether you like it or not. Companies need to acknowledge this and ensure that it becomes part of their marketing strategies.”
The ultimate aim, he said, is for operators to capitalise on the power of social interaction on the World Wide Web and to leverage the influence of friends/followers to influence bookings and build loyalty.
“One of the problems, however,” warned Montgomery, “is that while social media has been acknowledged as a platform companies need to utilise, figuring out the return on investment (ROI) is perhaps going to be a tough one. On the other hand, ignoring this communications medium could be even more detrimental.”