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Hospitality sector turns to social media as competition heats up

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Hospitality sector turns to social media as competition heats up

In October this year, Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India unveiled a fresh brand identity for its flagship brand—Club Mahindra. To promote the new image, the company obviously went through the traditional route of TV and print ads, but what is also interesting is that a “substantial” amount was also put aside for digital marketing campaigns. One of its latest digital campaigns hinges around the brand motto of ‘Make Every Moment Magical’.

“On-ground, we create experiences and on digital platforms, we give consumers a taste of these experiences,” explained Deepali Naair, CMO, Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India. 

Mahindra Holidays & Resorts is just one of many hospitality players who are taking digital media, especially social media, very seriously when it comes to building client engagement and interactions.

Social Wavelength, for example, has been working closely with budget hotel chain Ginger, as well as Tourism Victoria on their social media strategies, which include using myriad platforms such as Facebook, blogs and Twitter. In fact, Social Wavelength expects to be able to ‘derive actionable business inputs’ for Ginger over the coming years, based on data collected through its Facebook and Twitter activities. One reason why digital agencies are happy working with hospitality companies is that they find the clients are usually happy to experiment with their social media campaigns. 

Commenting on the importance of digital media for today’s hospitality sector, Lata Subramanian, Vice President (Marketing), Sterling Holidays said, “Digital and social media is growing to become the primary channels of marketing and communication for the hospitality industry. It is not a question of marketshare and revenues alone! The reputation of a hospitality brand can enhance or detract depending on reviews online, so a hospitality brand has to deliver a superlative experience offline, which in turn will reflect on its reputation online.”

The primary objectives of hospitality players are to spread brand awareness and create a two-way dialogue between the brand and its customers. The social platform gives these brands ample opportunities to be innovative and build lasting relations with their customers. For example, the Hyatt group of hotels is also using social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, to advertise new offers and events. The hotel had recently held speciality cooking classes for which entries and recipes were invited from participants through their Facebook page. Mihika Agnihotri, who handles the social media marketing for Hyatt Regency, Chennai, told us that all promotions being done by the hotel are also carried out online as social media has the highest reach than any other platform.

Digital agency VML Qais is another firm that has seen a rise in hospitality clients recently. It has worked with hotel chains such as Banyan Tree, Angsana Resorts and Hilton Group in Asia and, most recently, developed a Facebook ‘sweepstakes’ app for Club Mahindra. Said Shyama Puliyanda, Senior Business Manager, VML Qais, India, “The hospitality industry is perfectly suited to the digital platform, since what they want is high engagement activities which this platform can provide. However, hospitality players will need to do a lot more in terms of content on their websites.”

The total digital commerce market in India was valued at Rs 47,349 crore (Dec 2012) and is expected to grow by 33 per cent in 2013. Travel was the primary driver with 73 per cent share in 2012, with an expected 30 per cent growth in 2013. According to Mahindra Holidays’ Naair, 50 per cent of their bookings happened online since they revamped their website around 18 months ago. All these factors further highlight the importance of digital, especially, social medium for the hospitality industry today, and it seems that hospitality players have taken to the new scenario like the proverbial duck to water.

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