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In the travel industry, hotels and resorts play an integral role in the overall tourism experience when travellers are visiting a destination. However, many hotels provide a highly isolated experience at the moment that needs to be transformed into a much more social overall experience, as many travellers are already highly engaging on social media networks when travelling, sharing and engaging with friends, family and tourism providers. Through Foursquare travellers can check into places, share their location, tag friends and also share their opinion on restaurants and hotels. This provides major opportunities for hotels and resorts worldwide but can also be quite challenging (Clickz 2013).

LEVERAGING SOCIAL EXPERIENCES

Hotel experiences are no longer only a matter of the travellers in the actual hotel but can also be digitally enriched through social media channels. For hotels and resorts, this is about to become a game changer, as they can use innovative social media strategies in order to enhance guest experiences. Great service, food and facilities in a hotel or resort are worth sharing and it is very easy to encourage travellers to share their experiences in the hotel or resort to help other travellers in their decision making process. Guests can share their opinions and recommendations, advising potential travellers.

For hotels and resorts it is also essential to be aware of the things their guests recommend and share as unique experiences on social media, as it can provide marketers with ideas for the overall hotel marketing. Things that guests in a hotel consider as unique and a USP of the hotel should be used as upsell opportunities.

SOCIAL HOTELS

There is no doubt about the power of social media, as travellers are influenced in their travel decision making process by their friends’ reviews, posts and recommendations on social media channels. The Pod Hotel in New York has its own social network called Pod Culture that enables its guests to login to their accounts and connect with other guests on the network. This provides guests of the hotel with an opportunity to exchange recommendations on things to do and attractions. Although not every hotel or resort has its own social network that guests can use, they can still leverage the opportunities arising from social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and other popular networks. Hotels and resorts need to monitor social media channels for possible complaints and comments and should respond to these in a timely manner. Another tool that could be used by hotels and resorts is sentiment analytics to monitor issues and resolve these in order to maintain a relationship with guests during and after a visit in a hotel or resort. Conversations on social media channels between guests or the hotel itself and its guest can enhance the personal experience in a hotel or resort as a human touch and two-way conversations can change isolated experiences to more social ones. Hotels and resorts around the world can and should make use of the opportunities that social networks provide and should find an innovative way of making use of these.

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