Hotels must embrace technology, warns expert

BluSky Marketing found that hotels are still failing to leverage social media effectively

Luxury and boutique hotels are still failing when it comes to social media, and risk losing out if they do not start embracing technology, an industry expert has warned.

Chris Larsen, managing director of BluSky Marketing, was commenting on the findings of the 9th Luxury Hotel Benchmarking report –based on the ten top performing hotels from BluSky Marketing’s guest satisfaction survey.

The report revealed that hotels are still not leveraging platforms such as Facebook and Twitter effectively, with just 0.5 per cent of guest awareness attributed to social media.

“Social media has not moved in nearly two years, which is really disappointing,” said Larsen.

“If you read the marketing spiel from other industries they are talking about social media being a big driver in brand awareness, but you are still seeing hotels generating just 0.5 per cent of awareness through social media channels.

“Hotels just don’t seem to be taking it seriously and they haven’t embraced it yet. They usually get someone junior in the hotel to look after their social media channels, who often doesn’t have the expertise or know how to represent the voice of the hotel and engage with hotel users.”

Search and hotel websites accounted for less than a quarter (22 per cent) of hotel awareness, although some properties are achieving up to 34 per cent of awareness via search and their website. Word of mouth and previous visits continued to drive the greatest awareness for luxury hotels, suggesting hotels are still not making the most of the technology available to them.

“This all reflects a wider problem in the hotel industry- which is that many properties are reluctant to embrace new technology,” Larsen explained.

“I think the industry may need younger, more dynamic general managers. A lot of the GMs have been in the industry for a long time and they just don’t understand technology. They should be testing things and embracing it and not being afraid to have a go.”

Embracing engagement

To improve awareness and bookings through social media, Larsen said hotels should focus on engagement. “You have to clearly understand who your target audience is and what age group they are in, but you also have to understand what makes you different and why guests will come back,” he said.

“It is not about having a guest visit once, you want them to visit two, three or four times but also recommend your property to their friends – that is the power of social media.”

Tripadvisor – currently driving 4 per cent of awareness around luxury hotels – is still an important platform . “For larger properties we are seeing boosts of around 25 per cent when there are good Tripadvisor reviews,” said Larsen.

Hotels also be looking at ways to drive guest loyalty, such as offering rewards for engaging with the brand.

“We put in an automatic bounce back on our guest surveys, so if someone responds survey they get an automatic email thanking them for their time and sending them a link to a special offer,” Larsen explained.

“Some of our hotel clients have generated bookings worth about £1700 in a quarter using that technology.”

Related News

The Digital Detox service parts guests with their smartphones and tablets and takes urgent messages allowing them to enjoy their hotel break

Hotel guests offered chance to go on a 'digital detox' with new service

37 per cent of diners want to avoid using technology in their dining experience

37 per cent of diners don’t want front-of-house technology

Social media success requires effort and commitment

How to make social media benefit your hospitality business

Luxury and boutique hotels could boost sales through social media

Luxury hotels struggle to increase sales through social media

The report showed 44% of customers used digital methods to interact with companies in the tourism sector, the highest percentage from all sectors surveyed.

Tourism customers most likely to use social media to interact with companies

Karen Fewell, aka Digital Blonde, revealed her social media S.E.C.R.E.T

Expert reveals digital marketing S.E.C.R.E.T

Leverage social media tools and review sites to create an online presence without your own website

How to use social media and review sites to build an online presence