Clearly, social media platforms are a business changer for many industries. If customers are the ones driving this transformation, it means that we need to envisage a more vigorous engagement with them. A report released last week by L.I.K.E. Consulting reveals a study across almost 2000 accounts in 84 countries for 500 different properties. The report “12 Luxury Hotel Brands: A social media presence overview” determines the potential that different luxury chains, such as Ritz-Carlton, Kempinski and Four Seasons, can achieve in terms of social media presence.
After contemplating the stunning numbers behind this report, we decided to ask the researchers and Mr. Fritz Dickamp, managing director at L.I.K.E. Hospitality Consulting and AEHL 2013, a few intriguing questions that reassured us of the benefits that can be stemmed from social media:
If the reputation of luxury hotels is based on prestige and exclusivity, how can they embrace the recent social networking without damaging their image?
Firstly we have to determine what their image is. Today’s first class hotels are not only about endless luxury and prestige, but also about a commitment to deliver personalized services. Social media is naturally an addition to that point. The transition into the Web 2.0 environment facilitates customer interaction with organizations and forges closer ties between them. Ultimately, hoteliers can further understand customers’ needs and care about them before, during and after their experience.
Do you think that online platforms have advantage over traditional media?
Definitely, social media are amongst the leading distribution channels in the market. People ages 13 to 49 are already actively present on several online platforms. When Millennials take over the industry in a few years, the presence will be even more profound. Subsequently, if your brand is not there, you simply will not exist. The debate is not about having social media or not anymore, but rather about the effective use of it.
What are the most important platforms you believe will propel a luxury brand to increase their customer satisfaction?
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are the leaders, but it mainly depends on your target audience. A company’s presence on Facebook is essential everywhere, the visuals from Instagram are increasingly attractive for leisure segments, and Twitter is a brilliant informative tool for business customers. Moreover, it is important to differentiate the purpose of these channels between the property and brand accounts within a company. Property accounts should be limited to four platforms and focus on the loyalty of the customer; while brand accounts should work on reaching and engaging with customers.
After an overview of the social media presence of top luxury hotel brands, did you find any critical gaps that have not been addressed by these companies?
Brand account consistency must be carefully studied. Money and time are often wasted adding impractical platforms that are rarely used by companies. For instance, Google+ and Flickr are commonly added to a portfolio and rapidly sidelined because they do not show noteworthy results promoting a business. If they are not on board with the other platforms, they must be left out.
Which are the most important pieces of information to keep in mind about a social media strategy?
The key to an effective social media strategy relies on the engagement. It is not about the brand size, the number of accounts or the followers. The idea is to make people connect to you. That is how you create an experience. Show your customers that you are present in the right channels, consistent at any point, and concerned about their whole experience. That way you will reach a larger audience and retain your current customers.