The hospitality industry has been bestowed with the opportunity to engage their customers in a two way communication about their properties and services. Travel related applications and good customer service are the two ways hotels can reach out to their customers on Facebook and Twitter.
Traditionally, advertising for the hospitality industry thrives on beautiful images of the hotel and its the grounds, and the food. Social Media offers the industry a possibility to go beyond basic ideas and create more meaningful conversations.
I have based my study on the following 10 group of hotels for the period beginning from 1st July to 25th October 2013. These hotels often have individual city pages and Twitter handles where city specific promotions are run, as well as the parent brand having the scope tor promote the brand as a whole.
- ITC Hotels
- The Leela Palaces Hotels and Resorts
- Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces
- Oberoi Hotels & Resorts
- The Park Hotels
- LaLiT Hotels, Palaces & Resorts
- Orange County Resorts
- The Pride Hotels
When it comes to social media presence, the Lalit Hotels, Palaces & Resorts page on Facebook has the highest number of fans in India among leading hotels. With 1,35,000 fans, the Lalit brand of hotels seizes customer attention through their extremely creative use of cover images and well designed applications.
Oberoi Hotels and Resorts snatches the fame in terms of community building, since it has the highest growth rate of 4.9% as opposed to 0% for Park hotels and 0.1% for The Lalit as well as the Radisson group of hotels. The overall sector growth on Facebook is extremely sluggish at a rate that is less than 0.5%.
On Twitter, the Oberoi Group is leading with over 7,000 followers with a growth rate of 0.76%. The hotel has been taking great initiatives on the social media front with the latest #SMQTheOberoiInsta campaign which they rolled out during the Social Media Week.
The Pride Hotel has only 807 followers, the lowest in the segment with a miserably low growth rate of 0.25%. This suggests that the company has little, if any, focus on this platform as compared to Facebook.
Orange County and Leela Hotels are not present on Twitter, which is something that the brands should look at closely, particularly since other 5 star hotels have a good presence on this platform. Oberoi Hotels has the most number of followers at 7,950 but this is coupled with a slow growth rate of 0.67%. Taj Hotel has the highest growth rate of 1.6%. But overall, the sector isn’t growing particularly fast on Twitter, if compared to Facebook.
Most hotels make an average of 2 or less posts a day. Ginger Hotels makes the most number of posts in a day, with an average of 3-4 posts which tend to be spread out over the course of the day. Pride Hotels and ITC both make an average of 3 posts a day, while Orange County does not make even a single post on most days and a quick glance through its social profiles clearly shows there is no content strategy in place as well.
Whether it be traditional advertising or advertising on social media, the hospitality sector seems to thrive on offering luxury and showcasing the various facilities each hotel has to offer. A holistic view of the hotel through photographs is projected through the social platforms of luxury hotels.
– Incentives for Liking a Page
– Contests to capture your audience
Contests are not limited only to food or beauty brands. The only hotel running various interesting contests for its fanbase is Ginger Hotel. Travellers Thursday, Spot the Difference etc. are various kinds of promotions and the users are rewarded for it on Facebook and Twitter.
Hotels should understand that the mere showcasing of photographs often does not engage a user. Republishing photographs from the hotel website, as some hotels are doing, is just plain lazy and brands need to be reminded that Facebook is for driving interaction and engagement.
However, the incentives that luxury hotels offer for winning a contest should replicate their brand image. Pride Hotels is offering a 10% discount on dinner to 100 winners. The question to be asked here, is if it is worth the effort to save 300 rupees? Instead it could use the Rs 30,000 budget and offer an all-inclusive overnight stay to 1 lucky winner. Gratifications do create a bigger buzz.
– Excellent use of social features
The Oberoi Hotel Group deserves a special mention owing to a very beautiful strategy being executed by the hotel. It clearly sets itself apart from the other hotels. The hotel uses the Milestone feature to announce important events, along with offering users the chance to win an Audi on checking-in.
Apart from this, it is promoting its walkthrough on Google inside one of its properties and this particular page has received good interaction from fans. Such innovative content is responsible for getting the page its highest growth rate as mentioned at the beginning of this analysis.
On Twitter, Oberoi conducts chats with its concierge management and chefs. It recently conducted the InstaWalk campaign with a famous blogger during the Social Media Week. The walk showcased various parts of the hotel and took the followers through some famous stories and details about its history.
Taj Hotels is filming exclusive guest stays at its properties and this is a clear storytelling activity which has the potential to completely engross users in it. An amazing initiative by the brand, Taj clearly understands how to capture its customer’s attention.
I also came across a post by ITC hotels where they indulge their fans with storytelling activities which resonated well – it’s one of the cornerstones of good marketing: tell a good story.
– Promoting recruitment
Ginger is promoting its job and career opportunities within the hotel through its Facebook page. This is an incredible move, since social recruitment is the latest trend that many big companies have started to embrace. It offers a direct communication with young talent who are already fans on the page.
– Customer Feedback
An interesting fact that I noted about Ginger, is that it posts customer feedback. Visitor recommendations matter while booking a hotel and offering your fans a look into your visitor book on the Facebook page is a great loyalty building activity. However, it would be more authentic if Ginger gave a link to where the feedback was posted since it mentions the website.
– Applications are useful
Lalit Hotels, Palaces and Resorts has an application called Live assistance where it asks fans to leave a number and arranges a call back. This is very helpful and is an instant way to connect to anyone with a query.
Around Pride is a very nice application by the Pride hotels. It offers a quick glance around its hotels located at various cities for tourist assistance.
Almost all the hotels have created applications which exist only for the sake of it. The average monthly users of each of these hotel applications are negligible, considering the community sizes.
Ginger Hotel has the most number of users which is a mere 387 whereas The Lalit, Oberoi and Orange County have the least. This means the hotels are not promoting their applications at all.
Since applications play a major role in driving interactions, brand managers should be alarmed when they read this.
– Effective use of Hashtags
Hashtags are an important way of interacting on Twitter. They make the topic of discussion searchable and make it easy for a follower to follow a particular thread.
Radisson has started the hashtag #RevealTheRadisson where they talk about various Radisson hotels and talk about its exclusive features. The good part about this is that it’s a different way of showcasing various properties of the group.
Park Hotels is using hashtags but not in an effective manner. For instance, in the tweet below, #FatSundayBrunch could have been #ParkFatSundayBrunch or #ParkSundayBrunch. This would have branded the hash-tag and would have been easy for followers to update themselves about such events.
Engagement is extremely low in the hospitality sector. Facebook’s People Talking About This (PTAT), which takes into account all user interactions with a page, of most hotels is much lower compared to other sectors. This is due to a combination of reasons, but most likely because they are not promoting the pages on Facebook, and also the fact that most people don’t frequent a hotel as much as they use a FMCG brand, creating a lower affinity.
On Facebook, it is surprising to know that Orange County gets the maximum number of likes and shares per post since it neither executes a proper content strategy nor does it have anything remarkable on the page. This particular post received an engagement score of 620 out of all the posts made by the ten brands.
Oberoi (79) and The Leela Palace & Hotels (88) have better engagement scores after Orange County (206) as compared to others. These hotels received an average of 12 shares and 180 likes per post.
Note: Engagement is based on weighted averages of the responses to posts expressed as a percentage of the estimated number of impressions delivered. Responses are calculated by a weighted summation of the number of likes, the number of comments and the number of shares of the particular post.
On Twitter, Oberoi retweets and interacts with its followers frequently. However for most brands the engagement with followers on Twitter is extremely low. Ginger and ITC hotels receive one retweet per tweet and sadly, that is the highest in the segment.
Very few hotels interact with customers by responding through comments or tweets.
Radisson responds the fastest with an average time of 3 hours 48 minutes and responded to 32.69% of user posts on Facebook, whereas Ginger hotel responds the slowest at 48 hours 33 minutes – not useful if someone has a check-in problem or a last minute question before travelling. Oberoi hotel responds to the most fan posts with a 37.68% response rate.
Posting striking images will only result in creating an aspiration within a user. The next step is always enquiry. If this step is missed out upon, social media marketing does not result in any beneficial ROI. Therefore responding fast and as much as possible should be the key objectives of social media marketing.
On Twitter, the customer service activities are mostly initiated by ITC hotels which replies at an average response time of 5 minutes. Oberoi follows with an ART of 5 minutes and 52 seconds. In terms of the number of responses, Taj hotel replies the most.
Ginger Hotels had the most number of mentions (4,310) on Twitter, while The Lalit (48) and Park Hotels (129) had the least. This could typically mean different things for different brands. Since Ginger runs a lot of contests, the use of the handle is made mandatory. It could also mean that ITC, Taj, Oberoi, which though below Ginger, are mentioned a lot too because users know that they exist on the micro blogging site.
There is no doubt that the hospitality sector is a happy space to be, both on Facebook and Twitter. Therefore the sentiment is largely positive. It is worth a mention that Oberoi Hotels has the happiest community on Facebook and Taj has the happiest on Twitter.
The hospitality sector in general is severely lacking when it comes to creating good engagement amongst fans and this is reflected in their engagement scores. It could be due to lack of effective content or lack of a budget for promoting posts and tweets. In either case, the brands are losing out on interaction with their fanbase and the very essence of their presence on social media platforms.
Having said this, the sector is not performing as badly as some others that I have reviewed. Most hotels have individual city pages too, where contests and promotions are conducted. A little alteration in content could prove to be a great contributor in success on social media.
Analytics support courtesy: Unmetric
Read more: Social Media – A Hotel Industry Saviour