A social networking site is a type of social media that provides a platform for people to connect with each other. Social networking is so versatile that it can be used for both leisure and business purposes. In the hospitality and tourism industry, social networking sites are one of the essential tools that play an important and beneficial role. Content on social networking sites could affect the marketing in both positive and negative ways. The topic that will be discussed in this research work are consumer behavior, connection with consumers, effectiveness in terms of time and cost, creating brand awareness and building the image of the company, promoting company, targeting consumers, and finally, the disadvantages. There are various platforms provided by the social media networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter to the marketing of products and services for the hospitality industry. Social network offers media technologies that can facilitate online functionality and monitoring perspectives wherein the data gathered can be used to develop their services for customer satisfaction. The hospitality industry can market themselves in social media and networking. Hospitality industry can use social media to engage customers and clients in dialogue and recognize their needs. Through these networking sites, hospitality industry can interact with consumers before, during, and after the vacation experience. Social media is relatively new and the advantages are abundance such as it is affordable, it is viral and has the potential to spread brand awareness quickly and far and it is said to be able to develop link baits, attention and massive amounts of traffic. However, it may not be appropriate for all hotel chains. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of social media in the hospitality industry.
The rise in popularity of social networking sites has led social networking to become a global phenomenon. After many countries gained Internet access, the increase in the use of Internet started influencing the economy and social life at the beginning of 20th century (Milano, Baggio & Piattelli, 2011). Later on, in the era of Web 2.0, as social networking advanced, an increasing number of users on the Internet began to participate in social networking websites and this has resulted in the system of social networking to change (Milano, Baggio & Piattelli, 2011; Seth, 2012).According to Clark and Robert (2010), social networking sites are now mainly used for “job networking, targeted marketing, and entertainment”. (p.507).
Social networking is a type of social media; social networking sites allow Internet users to connect with people and create information. Social networking sites are originally used for entertainment purposes however an increase in the use of Internet and information communication technologies has shifted the way people communicate with each other, mainly in the hospitality and tourism industries (Assenov & Khurana, 2012; Clark & Roberts, 2010). For instance, social networking sites like Facebook allow registered users to interact globally and freely with people who share the Author: Same interest by uploading photos, sharing posts, chatting, commenting on the posts and also getting replies, such features allow companies to get quick feedback from consumers whereas consumers are able to receive responses immediately. These software and technology features which are available on social networking sites are also part of the Web 2.0 system (Seth, 2012). “Web 2.0 has also given popularity to user generated content (UGC) where information is gathered from different online sources all of which collaborate to form the final source” (Seth, 2012, p. 9). UGC has replaced traditional marketing in terms of media advertising. The advertisements are often sponsored posts promoted by people on social networking sites and these online advertisements appear to be more trustworthy than advertisements from mass media like televisions, radio, newspaper and magazines (Li & Darban, 2012). Manap and Adzharudin pointed out that consumers were more likely to be convinced to buy a product that is recommended by people who had experienced it (experience good) rather than a search good, the researchers also stated that it is possible to frequently utilize this strategy in the tourism industry. (2013)
The change in consumer behavior is majorly affected by the social networking sites which provide platforms for consumers to connect with the company and other consumers (Bilgihan, Peng & Kandampully, 2014).The explosive growth of the population of Internet user son social networking sites has had a huge impact on hospitality and tourism industry whereby consumers are changing the rule of marketing. In order for a company to be successful in business, it is necessary for marketers to make decisions based on consumer needs, changes in society and also the development of technology. By doing, it not only satisfies consumers but also strengthens the relationship with customers to ensure they make a comeback. In addition, social networking sites also help to record the information of consumers so that it is easy to be obtained whenever needed (Assenov & Khurana, 2012). In addition, social networking sites also provide social communication services which could create brand awareness and build a good image for the brand (Bilgihan, Peng & Kandampully, 2014).
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE RESEARCH
The emergence of Web 2.0, allows one with unlimited amount of things the individual can do on the internet these days. The individual is not just restricted to emails or passively absorbing the static information that is available on the web pages when browsing. It used to be one-way but now the web is the platform where people can share information, hold a decent dialogue, build both social and business connections.
Social media has recently been adopted by a small group of organizations’ integrated marketing plans. There by infusing a mix of advertisement, public relations, their sales promotion to produce a customer focused message. With the evolution of platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, we have the opportunity for exceptional access to the guest (Lanz, Fischhof, & Lee, 2010). Since social media is so available to anyone with an internet connection, it should be a platform that can be recommended to the hospitality industry to increase their brand awareness and facilitate direct feedback from their customers.
A business that understands the advantage of social media is well aware that social media is essential in developing new business in the current competitive and online driven marketplace.
Marketing is an important aspect for any company involved in business. As such, it is a competitive world out there, and social media marketing is the ‘new kid in town’ and it can reach out to the people accessing these social media platform regularly. Communication is essential for any corporation and business, therefore either they change the way information is conveyed or be prepared to lose some of the audience. It is imperative for marketing managers to continuously find a solution to appeal, keep new and current consumers (Schneider, 2009). Social network is the ideal platform for communication that applies perfectly with marketing in the virtual world. Social networks are groups of individuals who prefer to communicate with one another through a preferred site based on the profile created for themselves (Laudon and Traver, 2007).
1.2 STATEMENT OF RESEARCH PROBLEM
The hospitality industry tends to be very customer-centric and also one that prides itself by reaching out to its guests and providing a personalized experience. In traditional marketing, our lives are saturated by print media, radio and television. The downside of traditional marketing is the high cost and it is a one-way communication. Social media encourages customer engagement, and it being on Web 2.0, promotes two-way traffic. It allows for a faster response and a low cost investment than is typically achieved with traditional marketing.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The objective of this study is to evaluate the impact of social media networks in the hospitality industry. Social media is relatively young and the objective for corporations to invest and participate in social media platform is to offer an alternative mode of communication and also it helps to cultivate long term relationships with their guests; Such as promotional campaigns and new information can be pushed through social media channels.
Also, to give a descriptive overview of the state of social media in the hospitality industry.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Currently the hype surrounding social media strategies for marketing is on the increase, but hotel industry is still trying to cope and see the advantage from the latest trends on the internet. Social media such as Facebook and Twitter is growing daily. Challenges faced by hotels is the ‘how to’ engage the consumers and to lead them towards becoming a guest or share their experience for the hotel within their virtual network. For the past decades, the Internet has gradually changed to a stage where the search engines takes control of website traffic .Therefore, businesses that jumped onto the social media wagon earlier see the pay off , as they have established their relationships and viral networks (Walsh, 2010).
The research conducted in this manuscript will attempt to give an insight to the hospitality industry on the effects of social media, furthermore to establish if social media is effective and recommended, and if so, provide an insight and proposition for adopting social media as a platform for marketing purpose.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTION
For the course of this research work the researcher framed out some research question which shall guide the researcher to carry out this research work successfully, the research question will be administered to the respondents and samples of the research question are.
Have you ever been able to use the social media network in reaching out to target customer?
Can the social media be a source of advertisement off you industry to the people?
The number of guest turned in how many are from the source of the social media?
Do you have an official web address/website where commence can be carried out?
Apart from the social media, which other means do your industry use in reaching out to people as a promotional scheme
6 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
According to Aguburu (2001), the word “Hypotheses” is a set of assumptions which are accepted provisionally as a basis for investigation. It is formulated in the form of statements whose truth is to be tested. The following are hypotheses for this research work:
H0: There is a significant impact of the social media network to the hospitality industry.
H1: There is no significant impact from the social media network to the hospitality industry.
H0: The social media network is a major source of advertising and business channel to the hospitality industry today.
H1: The social media network is not a source of advertising and business channel to the hospitality industry today.
1.7 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
This study is based on secondary data and personal approach to evaluate the effects of marketing and social media in the hospitality industry. The advantage of using secondary data source is the fact that such information exists. It is less time consuming and data gathering cost is reduced on studies as compared to using primary data collection.
According to Stewart and Kamins, the disadvantage of secondary data is when collecting, reporting and interpreting the information; it consists of its own set of problems. The data collected tend to produce deliberate and intentional bias, hence the findings has the potential to arrive at varying conflicting conclusions (Stewart, & Kamins, 1993). It can be hard to validate. Thus conclusion drawn from secondary sources must be done carefully.
The study will attempt to focus on issues in social media by utilizing secondary data to illustrate the matter stated with examples.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Facebook: A social networking site where conversations take place between friends and family, to share photographs or humorous links you find on the Web and even locate long-lost friends (Nations, 2008).
Advertisement: This is a paid form of promotional message shared through media that are usually non-personal media for the purpose of persuading and influencing people to buy a product or service.
Flickr: A photo sharing website that enable the members to upload their own photos and enable new ways of organizing pictures and have it publicly posted (Turnbull, 2005).
LinkedIn: A professional social network that connects one to trusted contacts and enables one to exchange knowledge and opportunities with a network of professionals (Weinberg, 2007).
Social Media: Social media is a social instrument of communication that encompasses a media with a social component (Commoncraft, 2008).
Twitter: Is a Miniature Blog where one can keep people abreast of what an individual is up to without the need to spend a lot of time writing an entire post on the subject.
Youtube: Is a website where an individual is able to upload, share and view videos.
Web 2.0: The term "Web 2.0" is generally affiliated with online community that encourages interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centred design and collaboration on the World Wide Web (O'Reilly, 2005).
Communication: Communication is the meaningful exchange of information between two or more participants.
Information: Information is conveyed either as the content of a message or through direct and indirect observation of something.
Impact: This means the contribution or influence of something on another such as influence of social media network to the hospitality industry.
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