The 5th Luxury Hotel Benchmarking Report, which was based on guest reviews of 15 luxury and boutique hotels, revealed that just 1 per cent of people found a hotel through social media, up from 0 per cent last year.
In comparison, repeat business accounted for 25 per cent of total bookings, while word of mouth recommendation and search accounted for 21 per cent and 23 per cent respectively.
Speaking to BigHospitality, BluSky Marketing managing director Chris Larsen admitted there could be 'some ambiguity' to the results, with some people attributing social media to word of mouth, but added: “I still don’t feel that hotels are leveraging social media platforms well enough.”
He pointed out that experiences in the hotel sector have shown that social media can not only drive enquiries, but also generate sales.
“We know that social media works. If leveraged correctly it can be a very powerful medium,” he said.
The right marketing mix
Larsen said hotels could improve their social media marketing by offering exclusive deals as well as news and views. “They have got to get the balance between awareness of what is happening with their property and the right offers,” he said.
He added that hotels should get creative when it comes to boosting their followers and fans. “When you connect to the internet in a hotel, you usually get sent to a log in page or straight to the hotel homepage. None are porting people directly to their Facebook page,” he said.
Larsen said that social media activity should be integrated into wider digital communications plan. “Email marketing should be sent out once or twice a month and have links to social media pages."
Reservation by phone
Interestingly, the report also revealed that 49 per cent of people prefer to reserve by phoning the hotel directly, rather than booking online.
“This means that on your website, you need to have your phone number on the top left not the bottom right, and it needs to be click and call,” said Larsen.
He added that many people will call after 5pm, when the reservations team have gone home for the day.
“Make sure the staff at reception after hours have a really good grasp of English and know the product really well. They must also have the ability to sell up, rather than just offering the cheapest prices,” he said.
The report also found that hotels are securing as much as 34 per cent of their reservations through third party booking services such as booking.com.
The Luxury Hotel Benchmarking Report was based on 3,882 reviews from guests of 15 luxury and boutique hotels between October and December 2013.