Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hoteliers share the secrets of their success-the power of interaction

Today, marketing through social networking, mobile media, and e-mail campaigns pose new opportunities for marketers in the hotel industry. Companies nowadays operate in a rapidly shifting environment, and changes come from globalization and technological advances. These have combined to create vast, complex networks with varying economic and social activity.

Facebook, for example, is the digital mapping of people's real-world social connections that has more than 900 million active users on the site. Facebook users spend more than a quarter of their time on the site consuming and interacting with the Facebook Newsfeed, and this activity represents 4 percent of all time spent online in the United States. When members use Facebook to make their likes and interests known, it translates into word of mouth publicity. Through social networking sites, customers can also read online reviews, compare prices, and discuss options. To find out more about how brand reach and influence fans through social media marketing, click here.
Today, 50 percent of the world’s population has a cell phone and 25 percent has internet access. As new technologies continue to evolve, mobile devices become a marketing media that opens up new possibilities and gains increased attention. Communication can be delivered in the form of text, audio, or video. Since the device is portable, marketers can push sales promotions or updates to customers instantly. Moreover, almost half of all new mobile phones purchased in developed markets are now Web-enabled smartphones. There are also growing numbers of 3G network users in the emerging markets.  Marketers can enable customers to reach hotel information on a mobile device through reformatted web pages or specific mobile websites and offer the ability to make reservation. Marketers can also send mobile coupons and provide mobile customer service.
Moreover, marketing through e-mail campaigns pose new opportunities for companies. Companies can buy mailing lists containing almost any group of potential customers as well as send newsletters, offers, reminders of upcoming promotions, and announcements for special events. Customers can be encouraged or rewarded to e-mail back when they have further questions, feedback and complaints.

Here are the action items marketers can take to start making a difference.
1. Establishing presences on social networking sites - encourage the spread of “word of mouth” about the hotel and learn how customers perceive the hotel and its offering
2. Developing mobile media strategies -mobile creates opportunities to build new applications which enable new consumer behavior and can unlock new economic potential
3. Marketing through e-mail campaigns - personalize the messages to prospects to build stronger relationships with customers

Marketers look increasingly to social media, mobile media, and e-mail campaigns as new ways of communicating and engaging with customers. This approach will create new opportunities for marketers in how they relate to their customers.

Phoebe Lin is a master’s candidate in the Northwestern Medill IMC marketing program and is specializing in consulting with companies on communication and social marketing. Phoebe can be reached on twitter @PhoebeLin4.

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