In 2010, when Facebook had barely reached 400 million followers —compared with 1.2 billion it has today—, I wrote a prediction about the increasing power of this social network and the importance that I anticipated for the future of the hospitality industry. Now we already know how it is. Actually, without Facebook utilities, a tourist accommodation has no chance to exist in the next decade, simply because the tourist market is all digital and connected. Soon, travelers will choose and book their rooms on Facebook. And hotels will know on Facebook who their customers are, how they think and what they really want. Welcome to Planet Earth, welcome to Planet Facebook.
The future of search is social, I hazarded in a short essay about the use of social networks on the Internet and its so-called ‘Facebook effect’. Could Mark Zuckerberg’s ecosystem dare to unseat Google’s digital culture dominance? Assaulting the algorithms used by the company of goggles, Facebook has come to optimize its search engine which allows displaying in real-time all that we are writing on our timeline.
As a result of this, our system of working on the Internet is gradually moving from the web to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and —nobody knows yet—, the hesitant universe of Google Buzz. Thus, the main advantage of searching for the information you need is that, in this ecosystem, we can find the information on the timeline of our contacts, which in the hotel industry means that we can put a face and surname very quickly to our potential customers. The process becomes more human. We know it’s not a robot seeking information for us but rather ourselves through our contacts, whether they be customers or friends.
According to Nielsen’s results, more than 20% of users are getting their primary information and trend sources from social media. In Spain, these figures rise to 48% when it concerns tourist information. And this percentage is clearly growing. Times are changing at high speed, whereby it is very imprecise to know how fast travelers are going to go digital when planning their travel experiences. But we can point out that the current era belongs to Facebook, mainly, and Twitter secondarily. The chances to share information, and moreover do it instantly, have strengthened the culture of social networks to the point where it has become weird for a hotel not have a social media presence, and not manage its reputation online.
Now, the data.
These days, TechCrunch has been researching media distribution. By polling an impressive 5,000 websites like abc.com, it was found that some posts were shared 1 million times in 30 days, mainly on Facebook (44%) and Twitter (29%). Facebook itself registered almost half of all shared content per week! Add this, a comparison service installed on more than 600,000 websites, points out that redistribution of Internet contents works as follows: 33% Facebook, 13% emailing, and 9% Twitter. With 400 million users, Facebook is programming a thriving future for advertisers who want to influence their current 80 million users daily (as forecast in 2010).
For hotels that want to be innovative, there is a call to make a good use of social media by sharing information and interacting with each other. This kind of hotels must include in their own websites a social participation in line with its business and marketing strategy. They must socialize the site, optimize social widgets, set a schedule for content distribution and remain alerted to the fluctuations of data that are to their benefit. Sharing information is an inalienable demand of the communication strategy for any establishment that seeks to embrace the future. Particularly, hotels should bravely promote a social profile on Facebook and keep it aerated with corporate pages rather than personal pages.
Some hoteliers use the hotel’s page as if it were their own personal page. Do they realize that by conflating their personal data, such as date of birth and alma mater, with the hotel’s information, they are confusing their guests? Do the hoteliers assess their clients’ data as accurately as they usually do when reckoning the statistics of their corporate pages on Facebook?
Yes, the digital revolution is going to turn the hoteliers’ mindset to a common sense use of these new tools, if we accept that Facebook is actually the most populous country in the world —it was the third one in 2010, but the largest country in 2016—. No one would cast a fishing rod if its hook carried a repellent at the end of the line. However, we must bear in mind that some politically correct rules are required as usual.
Fernando Gallardo |