New media in hospitality marketing is not evolutionary; it’s revolutionary. And its growth hasn’t been linear; it’s been exponential.
In the year 2000, less than 5% of hotel room revenue was booked online in the United States. By 2015, that number will balloon to over 35%, more if you include bookings by business travellers using mobile devices or their own PCs and even event attendees using software provided by the event organizers or the venues themselves.
In addition, Google became a publicly traded company in 2004 and today it represents more than 90% of search activities by users. Then in 2010, Facebook actually overtook Google in the number of weekly U.S. visitors. And finally, I’ll bet you have a mobile device in your pocket or on your desk right now, and a tablet in your possession or at least on your wish list.
New media (social, mobile, and search) is everywhere. It’s in the pockets, purses, desks, and living rooms of your potential consumers, helping them make decisions about their next purchase.
By leveraging these new connections to the target market, you are offering potential consumers the opportunity to engage with your brand in a more complete way than was previously available. You are allowing customers to essentially “try” your product or property before even buying. For example: hotel web sites have evolved from kind of of the Web 1.0 version of online brochures to much more interactive sites where visitors can take virtual tours to explore property, they can play games, they can engage in virtual activities such as taking the participant’s view as they go down a water slide, or even watch short movies. Because there are so many new ways to connect with customers, creativity and uniqueness can be strong tools to set you apart from your competition.
New media is indeed relevant to the hospitality marketing industry. It is how you are going to project, promote, and protect your brand. And it is how you are going to capture more than your fair share of the desired target market.