The importance of social media in travel and hospitality

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The importance of social media in today’s society cannot be ignored. Social media has become a basic tool in our day to day lives. We have access to social media sites from the moment we wake up down to the moment when we go to sleep. With the various search features available on social networking platforms, it is possible to locate anyone, anywhere in the world, and directly contact individuals.

With more than a billion active users on Facebook alone; business, organizations, multinational corporations down to vegetable vendors all understand the importance of using social media in their businesses. The tourism and hospitality industry has not been left behind.

Journalists and travel bloggers gathered together at Jovago office in Nairobi on the 18th of February to discuss the potential and future of social media in the travel and hospitality industry.

Jovago.com, Africa’s leading online hotel booking company, puts a lot of effort to stay connected with customers on social media platforms. The company is present on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, has its own blog and is about to launch their first video channel. The booking website, which allows you to get the most affordable prices for more than 25,000 hotels in Africa strives to create easy and cheap ways for their customers to book accommodation online.

“We recognize social media as a major channel in communicating with our customers. Operating in a travel industry pushes companies to come up with innovative ways of interacting with people and presenting their products in a way which answers customers’ needs. Social media channels, thanks to its dynamics, give us a chance to listen to what our followers need and give it to them” – says Justyna Śnieżek, Head of Social Media at Jovago.

The company has also introduced the hashtag #JovagoToSM which stands for Jovago Talk on Social Media and they have encouraged people to join the discussion on Twitter.

How are some of the ways in which social media is vital to the tourism and hospitality industry?

1. Hotels and travel agencies that are good at using social media are able to have effective social media interventions. With organizations including information about their service they help grow their brand perception. They also give customers an opportunity to speak well of their experience and also allowing them to offer immediate response to negative responses.

2. Given the tendency of most people to use social media to share their holiday experiences and customer service experience during their trip, they help hotels and booking agencies to advertise on their behalf. This is also the case before and after a trip. Details such as the quality of the rooms, speed and quality of customer experience are all factors that help in cementing the reputation of organizations in the tourism sector.

3. By engaging with social media, hotels now have dedicated teams that monitor social comments on a daily basis. The quality and promptness on customer issues nowadays can either make or break the brand of a company or a hotel. Social media is a low-cost and high-impact marketing strategy in increasing customer engagement and satisfaction.

4. Nowadays it is no longer necessary for individuals to go all the way to a certain destination to be able to know if that is where they will spend their vacation at that particular destination. It is now possible to get a visual idea of a certain destination through social media. Through pictures, videos and sometimes even special holiday offers that hotels post on their social media sites, it becomes easier to choose a holiday destination all at the touch of a button.

5. Different social media channels share different types of information. For example, YouTube can be used to create videos showcasing the hotel, or it may include videos of shows done in the hotel. The hotel can also give tours of the facilities and even interviews with customers about their experiences. Facebook and Pinterest can be used to share pictures of the hotel and the facilities they have, for example the swimming pool or sauna.

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