Research Shows Social Media is the Future of Distribution Channels

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Recent studies suggest hotels are moving from OTAs and focusing more on direct sales. Kaptivating Hospitality stresses the importance of social media and Internet marketing in this transition.

In response to recent industry research, hotel sales and marketing experts at Kaptivating Hospitality suggest hoteliers need to focus on a comprehensive Internet marketing strategy if they want to increase direct sales. Recent articles, based on Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne’s report, The Distribution Challenge, suggested that hotels don’t see social media as a priority and should put it on hold. This is a misinterpretation of the original report and would be a mistake, according to Michael Palmer, the Chief Executive Officer at Kaptivating Hospitality.

Dave Pennells, Managing Director of Strategic Initiatives at Kaptivating Hospitality, states that the problem doesn’t lie with social media, “it’s not a matter of social media not being effective, it’s in not making the implementation of the social media strategy a part of the overall Internet marketing strategy.” Kaptivating says the report actually indicates that hotels should be even more focused on social media and digital marketing.

The report also states that hotels are going back to basics and moving away from OTAs in favor of direct sales. Kaptivating Hospitality believes that’s where social media can help. They say OTAs are ignoring social media as a distribution channel, which offers an advantage for the hotels that actually do use social media to effectively increase direct sales.

Mr. Pennells says that social media allows hotels to use the “common interests” of why a customer wishes to visit a particular geographical area. He believes that the basic question a customer asks when looking to book a room online is expanding to include “not only the geographical location, but also to include why they want to go to that area.” A trip might be planned around the question “I want to go scuba diving, where should I go?” Mr. Pennells says that social media enables “interaction with potential customers in the online locations where these customers are talking about common interests.” This interaction, as an opportunity to encourage customers to make direct bookings, “will be a game changer” according to Mr. Pennells.

The report states that the key challenges for 2012 are increasing direct sales, reducing distribution costs, and creating more exposure. Effective use of social media and digital marketing provides a benefit for all of these challenges according to Kaptivating Hospitality. They say social media offers zero or low-cost engagement, interaction, and brand awareness, ticking all of the boxes above.

The report indicates more focus on digital and social media marketing from hotels in the future. It found that 72% of hotels see the future of distribution taking place in some form of a digital channel. The largest proportion, 31% of those surveyed, predicts that social media will eventually be the main tool for distribution. Kaptivating Hospitality states that these figures prove the issue is with hoteliers’ understanding of how to get the most out of social media tools, rather than an issue with the tools themselves.

Kaptivating Hospitality educates its clients on utilizing social media to promote direct sales while equipping client hotels with the tools to track the impact on ROI. Using technology like Facebook booking engines and the GDS, Kaptivating helps client hotels to increase business. They also use other digital marketing tools such as SEO and mobile marketing, to build awareness and drive potential guests to their clients’ hotel websites. The report findings, according to Kaptivating Hospitality, support their approach and further demonstrate that social media is increasingly becoming the key to success within the hotel industry.

About Kaptivating Hospitality
As an industry leader in providing marketing and sales solutions to independent hotels worldwide, Kaptivating Hospitality specializes in developing strategies that enable hoteliers to build relationships with customers, increase direct sales, and shift market share. Kaptivating is a strategic partner in hotel sales and offers clients the most advanced distribution technology and Internet marketing tools available. For further details, please visit http://www.kaptivatinghospitality.com or call 818-301-0524.

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Stephanie Cole
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