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.”
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.”