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Effects of Social Media on Hospitality/Tourism

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Effects of Social Media on Hospitality/Tourism

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Introduction
Since the turn of the century, there has been an upsurge in the use of social media. As a result, many tourism organizations that include hotels, travel agencies, and airline companies have started using the internet as one of the important tools in marketing and communication strategies. Many businesses within the hospitality industry rely on good reviews from their customers, and social media is offering this as a natural marketing tool (Bennet, 2012). The use of social media have become very widespread, and the travelers use these sites consistently to brag about their great experiences as well as express displeasure with poor experiences. This is a natural way through which the social media is impacting the hospitality and tourism industry. After realizing the power of social media, businesses are also leveraging on the wide presence of customers in social media to communicate, engage, and market their services and products to the customers (Guzel & Sengun, 2015). The growth of social media has had immense impacts on social media that range from marketing, communication, and even corporate social responsibility. This paper conducts a literature review on the effects of social media on hospitality and tourism.
Literature Review
According to Mahmood A Khan (2012), the benefits of social media can be very helpful in marketing and management in hospitality and tourism. He states that social media has been an option for hospitality because it provides opportunities for managing and presenting business content and helps in identifying core values that draw clients and customers to the business. Most companies in this industry have developed strategies to integrate social media efforts with the overall marketing effort. According to Mahmood, the customers who are engaged in social media spend more money and return to the business more often. He further states that social media is helping companies in brand awareness and building brand equity.
In the management of the companies in the industry, Mahmood (2012) states list at least seven ways that social media is benefiting companies in the hospitality and tourism industry. These include soliciting endorsement, maximizing revenue per seat, managing reputation, reach out to new customers, bond with guests, recruit new staffs, and build a buzz. According to statistics that were compiled by Shea Bennett in 2012, the effects of social media on the business performance and customer choice and satisfaction cannot be underestimated. 52% of Facebook users stated that the photos that were shared by their friends on Facebook inspired their holiday choice and travel plans. Of all the customers who used social media to research travel plans, only 48% did not change their original plans after studying the social media reviews and photos. Of the entire population of customers on Facebook, 33% changed their hotels, 7% changed their destinations, 10% changed their resorts, and 5% changed their airlines. Amongst the information that was used to inform the decision-making on vacation destinations airlines, and resorts, the post-restaurant reviews made 40% contribution, post-vacation of travelers post hotel reviews made 46% contribution. 76% of the entire population on vacations stated that they had used post vacation photos on social networks, and another 55% had liked Facebook pages that were specific to vacations. Therefore, according to this statistics, it is evident that the hospitality and tourism industry has embraced the social media management of their business to help customers choose their business as well as improving their services to have positive reviews (Leung, Law, Hoof, & Buhalis, 2013).
Despite the myriad benefits that companies derive from social media, there are also adverse effects that social media have on the same companies. Mahmood conducted a research with his students he wanted to find the correctness and reliability of the reviews that were posted on social media sites. His students visited the destinations with online reviews. The results found out that 28% of the reviews were biased and reliable. It was further found that hotels have been posting negative reviews about rival hotels or posting very positive views about their own hotels. This shows a potentially damaging attribute o social media. There might be malicious individuals who wanted to tarnish the brand image of certain hotels. The rivals might also be involved in publicity battles where they want to portray their facilities as the best and that from their rivals as the worst (Mahmood, 2012). The impacts of these negative campaign are very damaging bearing in mind the number of people who rely on this information and reviews to make decisions that relate to vacations and hotels.
The use of social media has also facilitated the availability of customized advice in forum analysis. According to Baggio, & Costa (2010), a user can create a topic on social media sites like TripAdvisor and any other user with experience in the stated topic post comments. In such a site, there are Authors and Advisors. The authors are tourists who are very far from the destinations. The advisors may be local residents or fellow tourists who have information concerning the destination. In order to promote the integrity and trust on the information posted by the advisors, the advisors don’t have any form if the reward for offering the advice. In such cases where the information is being availed to the public or request with no payments and from trusted sources have generated a very important tool of marketing that is not controlled by the hospitality and tourism companies, and thus, the tourists can be able to manage their trips and vacations effectively and cost effectively. Initially, this information was availed to the consumers through paid adverts and the customers also had to pay in order to access this information (Xiang & Gretzel, 2010). Some example of media where this information was published included among others the newspapers, magazines, and Television broadcasting. This information was limited on the number of people that it could reach, and it was also limited in the geographic region that the information it could cover. However, with the social media, all these bottlenecks of the traditional tourism and hospitality advertising has been addressed. The companies are relieved the cost of ensuring that one more customer accesses their information, and this has gone a long way to cut the cost of management for these companies. The other limitation addressed through this method is the limited on geography. According to Rudez & Vodeb (2015), through social media, the information, the reviews, and the ratings of hotels, restaurants, resorts, and airlines has gone global and can be accessed by any person across the world because social media. He states that social media has made the world a village in terms of access to information regarding vacation places, the cost, and services that are offered. Tourists are able to interact with locals and other tourists who are continents away and get the necessary customized information that they can use to plan for their trips and vacations.
The management of companies in the hospitality and tourism industry has significantly since the advent and popularity of social media. Today these decisions are made with a close look at the social media. According to Engel et al (1999), the application of consumer decision-making model to the use of social media during the travel have been used to design the tourist’s decision-making process and dividing it into three phases. These are before the travel, during the travel, and after the travel. The managements analyze this type of the consumer interests and align their services with the customers’ expectations. Cox et al, in 2009 stated that it is not only the consumer tourists who are on social media to find information regarding hotels and restaurants, the management are also on the social media to find out what the consumers are expecting, to find out what the rivals are doing, and to assess their brand image. Such findings are used to improvement and for competition purposes by many management. The result is that the rise of social media, and especially in sharing tour and travels information, have led to a growth of many restaurants, hotels, resorts, and sightseeing facilities that meet or exceed customer demands to avoid the negative reviews and or to compete (Cox, Burgess, & Buultjensd, 2009).
Social media have also contributed immensely to human resource management in hospitality and tourism organizations. In this case, the social media sites like Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook among others are used every day to screen candidates by tourist and hospitality companies. According to a study by SHRM (2011), the responding human resource professionals indicated the use of Facebook (58%) Linkedin (95%) and Twitter (42%) for recruitment purposes. Primarily, they targeted non-management salaried employees (82%) as well as other management positions that excluded upper management (77%). According to the same study, 82% used the social media information to screen the candidates while30% reported to have used data on social media to disqualify candidates. Furthermore, 85% of the respondents had used Linkedin, 78% had used Facebook, and 11% had used Twitter to screen candidates for upper management positions (41%) and 26% for non-management salaried positions. Even though this is found to have little impact on the entire management of the companies in this industry, the human resource managers are quoted saying that the social media provide the information that actually represent the character of the candidates and from the information have been able to create a pool of highly ethical and reliable human resource at the most cost-effective way. According to conducted in 2015, the hospitality industry has become notorious and a poor reputation as a source if permanent employment, offering low pay, menial work, anti-social working hours, and limited opportunities for career progression (Gibbs, Fraser MacDonald, & Mackay, 2015). This has resulted in a high turnover and a tremendous challenge for the companies to attract, recruit and retain qualified employees. Because of this challenge, a company that wishes to attract and recruit top talents in the industry can resort to social media to advertise their unique working conditions for employees and this will go a long was to brain drain from rivals. Hunt (2010), states that social media ought to be integrated and should supplement the existing hiring strategies and not replace them. This reason given, however, is that social media profiles might contain erroneous information updated by the users for personal reasons.
Social media have also been used in hospitality and tourism companies for selling rooms and booking of other services and products. There are online travel agents who use the social media to market facilities for their clients and then sell them online. Marcusen (2008), in 2008 wrote that within the industry, online hotel booking was the second largest sales item after air travels with regard to the revenue generated through online transactions. According to Buhalis (2008) even though hoteliers have been reluctant to adopt new technologies especially in ICT, the advantages that are resulting from information technology developments have affected the hospitality industry in terms of marketing possibilities as well as in sales opportunities. He states that the modern travelers are more aware of the opportunities offered online and, therefore, is more exigent. Also, in the recent research on online information searches the travelers are spending more time to locate more accurate information on social media and checking different providers before choosing the most appropriate in terms of price and other qualities and proceeding to make online reservations for these facilities (Inversini & Lorenzo, 2014). Therefore, the hoteliers and travels and tour guides and online tour agents have expanded their focus to the social media in a bid to sell their services to the online travelers.
The growing impact of social media can be manifested in the proliferation of web-based destination marketing strategies. Web-based destination marketing strategies are tools that are used by many hospitality and tourism companies for publicity, and they provide big opportunities. According to(2ndonthe2ndweb) the web-based marketing tools are being adopted widely, and the pressure is mounting on destinations to invest heavily on their websites to increase traffic. There are no conventional standards for assessing the success of web site tourism. Nevertheless, it is crucial that destinations increase the efficiency of their web sites and thus the need to develop strategies for assessing the web sites. The growth in the investment in the web site tourism can be attributed to the growth of web users and especially the social media users. There have been technologies that the destinations are using to make it possible for the social media users to be redirected to their web sites whenever they want to find specific information regarding the available destinations (Gururaja, 2011). Therefore, the growth of web-based destination marketing cannot be separated from the growth of and popularity of social media.
Conclusion
Extensive use of social media is increasing worldwide, and this is coming with implications in all industries; both positive and negative. The hospitality and tourism industry is one of the many industries that the effects of social media cannot be ignored. Social media is being used by the hospitality and tourism companies for marketing campaign activities that may include creating information, advertisement, and engaging potential customers. The travelers have also been using social media to gather information concerning the best destinations for visiting during their vacations. The travelers get the information from reviews that are done by locals and other tourists who have visited these destinations before. The customers have used social media to book accommodations in hotels as well as paying air tickets in different airlines. Despite these remarkable contributions of social media, competition and malicious efforts have been embraced to tarnish the brand image of companies. Nevertheless, companies in these industries cannot underestimate the benefits derived from social media and they are leveraging on these cost-effective benefits.

References
Bennet, S. (2012). The Impact of Social Media on Travel and Tourism. The Jourbal of SocialTimes.
Buhalis, D., & Law, R. (2008). Progress in information technology and tourism management: 20 years on and 10 years after the internet-the state of etourism research. Rourism Management, 609-623.
Cox, C., Burgess, S., & Buultjensd, J. (2009). The Role of User-Generated Content in Tourists; Travel Planning Behavior. Journal of Hospitality Marketing & Management, 743-764.
Engel, J. F., Blackwell, L., & Milliard, P. (1999). Consumer Behavior. International Journal of Hospitality, 171-188.
Gibbs, C., Fraser MacDonald, & Mackay, K. (2015). Social media usage in hotel human resources: recruitment, hiring and communication. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality, 170-184.
Gururaja, R. (2011). Impact of Social Media on Tourism and Hospitality. MC Journals, 24-28.
Guzel, S. G., & Sengun, G. (2015). The Effects of Social Media on Tourism Marketing: A study among University Students. ABSR Online Journal, 1-13.
Inversini, A., & Lorenzo, M. (2014). Selling rooms online: the use of social media and online travel agents. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 272-292.
Baggio, R., & Costa, C. (2010). Social Media and ourism Destination: TripAdvisor Case Study. Advances in Tourism Research, 26-38.
Leung, D., Law, R., Hoof, H., & Buhalis, D. (2013). Social Media in Tourism and Hospitality: A Literature Review. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 3-22.
Mahmood, A. K. (2012). Social Medi's Influence on Hospitality & Tourism Management. Journal of Business and Hotel Management, 1-7.
Marcussen, C. H. (2008). Trends in European internet distribution of travel and tourism services. Retrieved from http://195.130.87.21:8080/dspace/handle/123456789/864
Rudez, H., & Vodeb, K. (2015). Students' use of Social Media During the Travell Process. Tourism and Hospitality Management, 179-190.
Society for Human Resource Management. (2011). SHRM research spotlight: social networking websites and online search engines for screening job candidates. Retrieved from Society for Human Resource Management: www.shrm.org/Research/SurveyFindings/Articles/Documents/PART 2_Social Media Flier_FINAL.pdf
Xiang, Z., & Gretzel, U. (2010). Role of soial media in online travel information search. Tourism Management, 179-188.

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