Social media has been making waves in the tourism industry in recent years making it easier for hotels to see who is visiting their establishments, while also allowing travelers to comment on the places they have stayed.
It is a double-edged sword – one that can both assist in creating business for a hotel, but one that can also drive business away as a result of bad reviews.
However, Claudia Gunkel (right
), from social media analyst and consultant for ForschungsWeb, spoke to delegates about how monitoring of social media can help businesses analyse the markets to which they are appealing.
"Monitoring of social media is its own strategy and it's growing so quickly that it should be a key part of the business," she said, during a presentation on social media monitoring and the opportunities and potential for hotels and destinations.
"It is possible through this to learn about new markets and also to monitor developments or new trends," she added.
Analysis of social media does not only extend to visitors, and reviews, Gunkel said, but could also help to watch how the competition is working and growing, also giving an insight into how employees are representing the business and help to follow press and opinion leaders.
"Possible themes are competition monitoring but there are other goals such as campaign monitoring, quality management, content marketing and gathering ideas for [better] external communication," she said.
However, Gunkel added that hotels or destinations wishing to use monitoring in their own businesses should have "clear goals" in mind and plan how to use the technology to their best advantage, although she said it is definitely "something to invest in".
As well as monitoring, Gunkel also said that quantitative analysis could also help to see how attention is being brought to the hotel or destination through interaction and website "clicks".
She said that the hotel industry has been the "pioneer" of user-generated content since 1999 and would continue to be so, showing data from websites such as TripAdvisor with more than 125 million reviews.
"The implications are further recommendations, reputation and quality management, benchmarking and business potential," she said, adding that hotels are now not only reviewed with stars.
"The activities of the whole trips will also be discussed," she said. "But there can also be engagement with [potential] visitors."
Giving an example, she showed the tweet of a woman who had said she was looking for a tropical location in which to spend her vacation.
The response from the Four Seasons Hotels Twitter account: "We have a few tropical destinations that might work."
Explaining that such engagement and social media monitoring might also help for smaller hotel chains bringing benefits, a platform for review and new customers, Gunkel added: "It gives the product attention and also helps to exceed expectations."This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.
Louise Osborne is a correspondent and editor based in Berlin, Germany. She began her career working at regional newspapers in the UK and now works with journalists across the globe as part of international journalism organization, Associated Reporters Abroad (ARA). Living abroad for the second time, she continues to be fascinated by places both near and far, and boards a plane eagerly, as often as she can.
Besides the ITB Berlin 2014 live coverage, Louise also writes a weekly exclusive column for 4Hoteliers.com