Thursday, March 10, 2011

Social Media and the Hospitality Industry: Holding the Tiger by the Tail

The Center for Hospitality Research (School of Hotel Administration, Cornell University) just released a new report on social media and the hospitality industry, by Glenn Withiam.  To download the full report (free registration is required) click here.

Executive Summary (as published in School of Hotel Administration, Cornell University website) 

Social media present a golden opportunity for the hospitality industry to make greater contact with its customers, with an ultimate goal of developing a partnership for brand growth and development. Underlying that opportunity are the twin dangers that hospitality operators will mishandle their social media connections or that customers (and the media themselves) will move on, leaving the industry behind. So, just as hotels and some restaurants have built their websites, they now have to make sure that their site is optimized for search engines, have mobile apps, and, more to the point, keep customers involved in a conversation about the operation. Although many hotel chains have embraced mobile apps, Facebook, and other channels, others are hardly represented at all in the social media firmament. One great potential advantage of social media is that guests are willing to share information about their likes and dislikes. By using appropriate analytic methods, hoteliers can get a sense of what guests want generally and how they react to the hotel specifically. Most important right now is the development of mobile apps, since travelers expect to use their mobile devices to book rooms or other travel services on the spot. A comprehensive strategy of customer engagement will employ all social media, whether it’s Facebook or Flickr, YouTube or Twitter—or all of them, and will also help you keep an eye out for new applications and customer desires.

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