Research by Ecole Hôtèliere de Lausanne (EHL) and Rate Tiger suggests that hotels are shunning social media as a marketing and selling mechanism.
The six month qualitative study, The Distributive Challenge 2012, conducted across five countries showed that while social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, TripAdvisor and YouTube are recognised as new forms of digital marketing, hotels remain unconvinced about the impact these channels will have on bookings.
One in three of the hotels surveyed had no social media strategy and only one in eight use any form of social media as a marketing tool. Hotels are instead shown to be focusing on the development of offline strategies to build more corporate contracts with the aim of delivering more predictable business.
“We have found that hotels work with more travel agents and consortia contracts for the corporate segment, apply BAR to walk-ins, and develop special offers for returning customers, including the introduction of loyalty programmes,” said Horatiu Tudori, senior lecturer, Revenue Management, Ecole Hôtèliere de Lausanne, Switzerland.
“This is an interesting turn-around from the unbalanced and heavily online-focused sales strategies of the past few years, which are not bringing the yields independent hotels so much need right now. We also found that hotels just don’t see the true revenue value in social networks, opting for more traditional methods to engage customers.”
CEO of Rate Tiger Michael McCartan added: “We’re seeing hotels increase direct booking and create more relevant packages and promotions for their customers by engaging in social media. Hotels need to look at how they can save time through technology and not just see additional tasks as an uphill struggle. It’s time that hotels start to get the balance right and ensure the conversation is flowing between revenue, sales and marketing managers.”
According to finding from the research, more hotels are aiming to optimising the use of Google and SEO rather than use travel deal platforms such as Travelzoo. The goal is to bring in more direct bookings and take potential bookings away from high-commission OTAs.
Image: Research results chart of how hotels are digital marketing.