Can Facebook Influence Guest Loyalty?
Hotel brands are working harder than ever to secure the long-term loyalty of guests. Technology advancements and social network innovations have impacted how travel experiences are chosen and what makes consumers devoted to certain brands.
To help better understand today’s travelers and how loyalty is gained in today’s travel market, Facebook IQ commissioned a survey of 2,079 people in the US ages 18 and over, who have traveled domestically or abroad in the last year. Combining this data with insights from other sources, they uncovered some important trends impacting the hospitality industry today.
Reasons for Staying Loyal to a Travel Brand
Of the 2,079 participants surveyed, 87% participated in Loyalty programs and 70% agreed that being part of a program made them feel more loyal to a company. The top three reasons indicated by Facebook survey respondents for staying loyal to a travel company were Quality of accommodation (91%), Consistency or consistent reliability of service (87%), and Convenience (85%).
These answers significantly outranked “quality of the rewards program” which was only chosen by 65% of those surveyed as a reason to stay loyal. This shows that travel brands can certainly use rewards as a tool to drive loyalty, but they shouldn’t ignore practical factors that travelers who are less able to benefit from accumulated points may consider.
It’s interesting that Price was only a consideration for about half of the survey respondents when deciding whether they would stay loyal or switch brands. Only 48% of those surveyed said they had changed travel brands in the last year because of price.
What does this mean for hoteliers?
1. Quality: Provide remarkable quality so that guests have a stronger reason to commit longer-term.
2. Consistency: Offer a consistent, outstanding customer service experience in all areas of your hotel that draws guests back.
3. Convenience: Provide a simple booking experience and make all steps of the travel journey friction-free
It’s All About the Booking Experience
Convenience was the third highest reason from the survey results to stay loyal to a brand. In today’s tech-driven world, consumers stick with brands that offer convenient purchasing processes. Take a look at these statistics from the survey:
- 61% said that they are more likely to stay loyal to a Hotel that has an easy to use website or mobile app
- 52% said they utilize OTAs to book their hotel rooms due to convenience; it includes all hotel brands & their availability plus it has guest reviews/comments all in one place
- 47% said they are looking for “ease” across all sites and apps when they are doing their travel planning
- 41% of 18–34-year-olds saying they stopped a booking because the website or app was too slow or confusing.
Future of Loyalty and Facebook Fit
In analyzing the data from this survey, we believe that social media will play an even bigger part to keep someone loyal to a travel brand. So, what should hotels take into consideration when managing their Social channels? Here are the data points from this survey to keep in mind:
- 86% stated that they would find it acceptable for a travel brand to post in an online group that was started by someone they consider a peer - a traveler that is like them
- 48% of those surveyed agreed that they still value a recommendation from a family and/or a friend when choosing a destination
- 42% welcome a “tailored product recommendation” based on their past purchases, likes and interests – and finds it to be valuable to them
- Interestingly, 79% of those surveyed stated that they use at least one of the Facebook Family of Apps on a regular basis
- In addition, 76% of them do use Facebook for their travel-related activities
Become a go-to brand by having a considerate presence on consumers’ social networks. They are more likely to book with a brand that is already on their radar. Connect with travelers on social channels and provide personalized recommendations of things to do at and around your hotel. An example would be a post about a museum near your hotel that resonates with museum lovers. Or a post about great outdoor activities for nature lovers.
Facebook’s Influence on Travel Planning
Digging deeper into how social channels and other sites impact travel planning, those surveyed said that:
- 36% use Facebook Family of Apps
- 76% state they also use Instagram weekly
- 64% state they use WhatsApp weekly
- 30% use Travel Review Sites i.e. TripAdvisor when searching for a destination and Hotels
- Only 26% use search engines when looking for a destination
Drilling down further into which Facebook Family of Apps is used most often, research shows that 76% use Facebook weekly and 65% use Facebook Messenger weekly. We have seen a significant increase in the use of Facebook Messenger by guests to communicate with hotels. It’s important that hotels have a plan for responding to these conversations appropriately and quickly.
Social Conversations More Persuasive Than Advertising
It’s clear that social conversations can help you build invaluable relationships directly with your guests. For many, Social Media is at the heart of the consumer-brand relationship which can be applied to the guest/hotel relationship. The Edelman Trust Barometer study found that close to 40% of individuals said that “they are unlikely to become emotionally attached to a brand unless that brand is interacting one-on-one with them via their Social channels”.
When asked the question, “which do you believe is giving you the truth – information in advertising/marketing materials OR what a brand says in direct communication with you?” 59% of survey respondents said they trusted direct communication with a brand via emails, messaging or responding to a comment posted on Social media.
So, looking ahead, Social Conversations continue to be an important avenue of getting the word out about your hotel and its amenities to gain more bookings and to turn your guests into loyal customers and advocates for your property. It’s smart for Hotels to invest in social media marketing to have a consistent social presence that showcases what a guest’s experience at your hotel is like.
Do You Need a Strategic Partner?
Many hotels and restaurants choose to outsource their social media to a partner such as iResponze to create and implement a crafted strategy specific to their hotel. We collaborate with you to create custom content, post it on social media and promote it with paid advertising. This frees up your hotel staff’s time, so they can focus on what they do best – build lasting relationships with guests. We are experienced hospitality professionals and would consider it a privilege to be a trusted extension of your team. Check out our plans or contact us to learn more.