Today, more than 40% of the world’s Internet users are based in the Asia Pacific region, with Southeast Asia alone accounting for 10% of the global total. Defined by many as one of the most dynamic regions for social media in the world, Southeast Asia records a social networking penetration of 25%, making that the main activity performed online by Internet users.
The region boasts three of Facebook’s top 15 markets, and sees YouTube ranked as the top entertainment website in each region- al market. And yet, in some countries, such as Cambodia, corpo- rate use of social media remains comparatively limited, and its potential impact underestimated.
This under-utilisation of social media also proves to be true in the tourism and hospitality industries, despite online exchanges being crucial to these fields. At present, 65% of leisure travellers use online social searches before deciding where or how to travel, with sources such as TripAdvisor and Yelp now essential to most people planning anything from a long holiday to a single night out. And while social media are crucial to the planning of trips, 70% of trav- ellers update their Facebook page while on vacation, meaning real-time recommendations are now also severely impacting the reputations of hotels and restaurants across the globe.
As Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, would say, “If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” More than just an offering of recommendations, social media channels have also become integral to managing relationships with your clients. These channels can be used to initiate conversations with clients, allowing you to gather feedback, address any complaints, build relationships and, ultimately, gain loyalty.
In the hospitality industry in Cambodia, some businesses have already embraced the power of social media and are starting to see the benefits digital marketing can bring, although many are still in an experimental stage. Inactive Facebook pages and online reputations left unmanaged are common. Many of these are businesses that still consider Facebook or Instagram to be nothing more than networks made to share “things”, when, in fact, they have become essential marketing tools with definite measurable impacts. Marketing through social media is a proven way to generate clientele and to build long-term relationships with existing customers.
For instance, the Park Hyatt Hotel in Canada created a concierge service via Twitter, serving guests at the hotel and engaging potential clients, leading directly to a boost in sales. US company Fairmont & Omni Resorts has also successfully embraced social media marketing, releasing last minute hot bargains through their social media channels to increase occupancy rates.
Effective management of social media means more than pretty pictures and catchy tag lines; it requires a strategic approach based on a logical framework. And for tourism and hospitality, creativity is key.
Text by Adrienne Ravez | Illustration by Endorphine Concept (www.endorphine-concept.com)