Social media a key driver for hospitality industry

Social media and new technology will play an increasingly important role in driving future growth in the hospitality industry over the next five years, according to a new report from Deloitte.

The firm’s Hospitality 2015 report identifies social media and new technology as two of the key trends that will shape the future success of the industry.

It suggests that social media will continue to grow, which will be good news for consumers but offer both threats and opportunities for hotel operators.

Tools such as Facebook, Twitter and TripAdvisor play an increasingly important part in the traveller’s pre-departure research. As many as one in five travellers are now using these sites prior to departure, while up to one in ten are actually contributing to them.

Alistair Pritchard, who leads Deloitte’s Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure practice in the Midlands, said: “In the past, consumers often relied upon brochures or guidebooks to get information about a destination, sometimes only to have their expectations dashed. Now the experience of previous guests can be read in full detail online.

“Operators have been seeking consumer feedback through traditional means for many years. Social media sites may generate reams of unsolicited opinion, but hoteliers should not ignore the potential of this highly public feedback mechanism.

“The most successful brands will be those that embrace and learn to harness social media rather than underestimate or fight against its influence.”

According to the report, as well as tapping in to social media channels, to be successful in 2015, hospitality companies must invest in technology. The battle to drive bookings through proprietary websites will continue, but all major operators will also develop applications and websites for mobile devices to meet consumer demands.

Hilton is among those operators that have embraced the mobile world by launching an iPhone application to enable guests to manage their bookings. Within a week of the launch the Hilton app had been downloaded more than 6,000 times.

Additional mobile services already implemented by some hotels include interactive maps/GPS, reward programmes for quick mobile bookers, booking confirmation texts and pre-arrival texts.

Mr Pritchard said: “Within the industry, mobile technology is now being used to reach those travellers who are ‘switched on’ at all times. We believe that access to consumers by this method will grow significantly by 2015. 

“Hotels must therefore ensure their websites are mobile-friendly in order to maximise the benefits of mobile technology.”

Deloitte’s Hospitality 2015 report identifies five other areas that will play a key role in driving the hospitality industry, including emerging markets, such as China and India, changing consumer demographics, staff retention, sustainability and crisis management.

(Please click here for a coy of the full report  Hospitality 2015 Report, June 2010)

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