Industry Update
Opinion Article 9 July 2013

Social search is growing but remember happy guests share happy memories

By Ritesh Gupta

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The continuous evolvement of search capabilities within social networks has enhanced the ability of travellers to learn a lot about the travel experience of others – discover peers' locations, view their photos, watch their videos and judge for themselves. While this is good news, hotel companies have also had to sharpen their analysis of social networks.

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At the Wilshire Grand Hotel in New Jersey it has become increasingly clear that it is absolutely vital to act on accumulated data relating to search conducted on various sites including Facebook.

Here EyeforTravel's Ritesh Gupta talks to Ed Reagoso, the hotel's general manager about what conducting a search on Facebook and Twitter means to his entity, what is being done to understand the intent of web visitors and how he is making sense of the data.

EFT: Today travellers have options to conduct search on sites like Facebook and Twitter. What are you doing to understand how this is influencing user behaviour today?

ER: In order to survive, hotel business owners and operators must, at a minimum, understand the basics of this ever-fluid technical side of Internet marketing.

Focusing on the goal of your plan is key. My e-plan is to build relationships with our guests and potential clients as well as to establish new relationships locally and globally. Having an experienced, full service website developer and marketer manage the flow of this data is critical; it helps to understand the dynamics and results across the many social e-marketing lines that exist today. Many site and e-marketing firms profess to retrieve accumulated data from the searches, and do it well, but what's done with this data is vital to your business.

Here are two of our approaches:

· We build (via an external partner) our pay-per-click and keyword development on this data in addition to orchestrating weekly social campaigns and blogs.

· We also accurately establish and communicate search trends and potential business influences.

Yes, 'blasts' are sent quarterly, not so often as to lose a potential guest's interest. Most trends as well as new e-commerce opportunities are brought to my attention immediately in order to stay ahead of our competitors and the big box brands.

EFT: As consumers come across search capabilities on Facebook and Twitter, how can travel companies keep a check on travellers' evolving intent?

ER: I receive weekly as well as monthly e-commerce reports from the company I use for our e-commerce marketing. These reports include fresh visitation data displaying the successes (and failures) of our e-marketing execution.

Our e-plan is built and is fluid enough to change as and when needed to chase opportunities. But consistency is of primary importance to our success and focusing on your main goal must be paramount. It's a bit much to assume I do all or know all. I hire experts to assist me in my business and I stick with the companies that have proven their techniques already in the marketplace, especially for Internet services.

EFT: Can you explain what is being done today to understand the intent of web visitors on general search engines or travel meta-search engines vis-à-vis social networking sites?

ER: Visit trends are as important as buying trends. These often cross and understanding the relationship of where someone searched and how they got to your site can make or break a business if you use this information to your advantage.

For me, social marketing has changed the dynamics of our guests' perception of our business to being Internet savvy, fresh, and most importantly personal. Critical measurements in the form of weekly reports are viewed and analysed while adding or changing as needed, while staying true to our specific goals of being an independent boutique hotel.

It's great to think we can get clients to buy from our social marketing campaigns or sites, but to be fooled into thinking we can force the customer to buy from where we want them to is not only foolish in my opinion but potentially client-abandoning. My own experience with our social marketing sites is not unique. Guests, clients, friends, and vendors will view us and learn about our hotel product. Our positive attitude and friendly outlook will help us grow organically with relationships being our key goal.

EFT: What trends have you witnessed in the area of measuring, analysing and engaging audiences effectively on social networks?

ER: Well for me, the most important trend after all the analysing and measuring is one that is quite simple. Happy guests love to share experiences on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and TripAdvisor. These sites have been instrumental in our ability to build relationships and show people what we do. The more sites we're out there on, the better for us! Whether it's related to a wedding, an extended stay, or someone new to the area that stayed with us…the posting of one great review on any site has an immediate impact on our business and it is always good.

Related Event

EyeforTravel's North American Summit 2015

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Bellagio Las Vegas — Las Vegas, NV United States
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Ritesh Gupta

Ritesh joined EyeforTravel in October 2004. Based in New Delhi, he conceptualises and manages the daily news section. He also focuses on bringing synergy between EyeforTravel.com's editorial strategy and company's conferences across the globe. For this, he contributes through his coverage pertaining to the event and analysis/interviews.

    More from Ritesh Gupta

    About EyeforTravel

    EyeforTravel is an online travel intelligence provider to hotels, airlines, online travel agents, cruise, car hire firms and more. Established in 1997 by Tim Gunstone, right at the inception of online travel, the group offers a diverse product portfolio including industry analysis, insights, research, webinars, reports and conferences. From major hotel brands to new startups, EyeforTravel helps its 80,000 strong customer base make better decisions, build better brands, close the most lucrative deals and ultimately sell more of their product.

    For more information visit www.eyefortravel.com.

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