Monday, June 13, 2016

Instagram Is Becoming a Popular Medium for Marketers (by Dayana Abundis)


As a college student, my financial situation does not allow me to stay at a midscale hotel for my personal vacations, needless to mention the luxury hotels. Every time when I need to book a hotel room, I tend to go for the cheapest option of all with a convenient location. 

When my family and I go on vacation, however, we have the opportunity to stay at a nice hotel that comes with great customer service and great amenities. Since my family does not take vacations very often, when we get the opportunity to plan a vacation, it is always a fun experience. I enjoy looking for hotels that will make our vacation fun and will guarantee that we have a great stay.  

For our upcoming vacation, I gathered some ideas from looking through my Instagram page. Not only does Instagram promote certain hotels through the sponsored section, but also many bloggers that I am following or those with the popular pages give me great recommendations of hotels, together with their experience with their stay.

Bloggers have become a great means for promotions, no matter if it is for makeup products, clothing, or even their experience at different hotels. Today, luxury hotels are paying bloggers to stay at their properties to promote their hotels through their Instagram pages. For example, 28 year old, Marianna Hewitt, a lifestyle blogger, enjoyed a nice stay at the Mulia Resort in Bali, Indonesia. She got paid to go on vacation while uploading pictures of the resort to her Instagram page. Many of Marianna’s followers obtain the opportunity to see what it is like for the blogger to stay at one of the most beautiful properties, and from what Marianna posted, consumers may develop curiosity and interest in the hotel, which enhance their likelihood of staying in the same hotel for their future vacations. 

I see hotels that do marketing through social media such as Instagram are trying to mainly target the Millennials and those individuals who loves to browse pictures online. Looking at the pictures on Instagram and seeing others visiting a nice property and describing their experience really helps these peoples' followers develop a strong connection with the property. 

In today’s society, almost every individual has a cellphone. Technology has improved dramatically throughout the years, making it very easy and common to do marketing on social media. According to, The Wire Magazine, Instagram has 90 million monthly active users, and out of those users they post 40 million photos a day and tap on 8,500 likes per second. Thus, it would be crazy if hotels do not want to invest their time and money on Instagram for marketing purposes. 

Do you believe that social media marketing will one day become the best way to get through consumers in the hospitality industry? Do you think Instagram is a great way to target consumers who are always on social media sites and that enjoy real life experiences from those they follow?

About the Author

Dayana Abundis is a senior at the California State Polytechnic University Pomona. She is expected to graduate in the winter of 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management. She wants to work in the hotel industry or travel and tourism. After graduation, she hopes to work for big hotel chains such as Marriott. She enjoys traveling and meeting new people and going on adventures.

References

How Many Users Does Instagram Really Have After the Ad Scandal? (n.d.). Retrieved April 15, 2016, from http://www.thewire.com/technology/2013/01/how-many-users-does-instagram-have/61139/
Want a free stay at a luxury hotel? Build up your Instagram following. (2015). Retrieved April 15, 2016, from http://fortune.com/2015/07/01/instagram-luxury-resorts-free/
The picture was downloaded via a LinkedIn discussion

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Public Relations and Social Media (by Marlon Wong Granados)


Every business interacts with a variety of publics: consumers, the general public, the financial community, the organizations’ employees, government, the media, suppliers, and many others. Public relations is the process by which the relationships with each to these publics is managed.” --- Reid and Bojanic, in Hospitality Marketing Management (2010, p. 492).

Just recently at my workplace, there was an incident regarding one of my coworkers. It turns out that he used Facebook’s personal messaging system as a medium to exchange harsh words with another person. This person was not in any way connected to our company, but after finding out where my coworker worked through my coworker’s Facebook profile, this person decided to post on our company’s public Facebook profile what my coworker had said to them for anyone to see. It appeared that my coworker said things that were not nice; and even though he thought he was having a private conversation via personal messaging with this person, this person exposed publicly what was said. The person also accused our workplace of hiring a person that was disrespectful and crass. The incident was handled by management, in essence it was a minor job in public relations, and as such the post was deleted, the person contacted by management, and after conducting an investigation, my workplace decided that my coworker must be let go.

This incident first made me think about our first amendment --- our freedom of speech. While my coworker said disrespectful words, was it right for the other person involved to accuse him at his workplace, to expose him on the company’s Facebook profile? Was it the correct decision for the company to let my coworker go? Secondly, I thought of the issue of public relations for company. A company’s public relations team might be an external company or it could just be an owner or a manager. Nowadays, companies should provide guidelines in employee manuals that refer to social media use, especially usage regarding the company. Even in the mentioned incident, where the private discussion was not about anything related to the company, the way someone projects themselves when speaking to another person, regardless of the medium, can be measured against the values of a company. While our company did have social media guidelines regarding the use of these tools concerning the company itself, and while there was nothing explicitly mentioned on the employee handbook about conducting oneself appropriately when speaking to other people outside of work, it was implied in our manual that we must conduct ourselves professionally in and out of work.

In the early days of Facebook, I wouldn’t think twice about posting any kind of status update, much less what I wrote in a personal message. In those days, while we still valued anonymity and privacy, as a society we were slowly changing. There was no Instagram or Yelp, and most people remained anonymous through nicknames and online handles. With the advent of social media sites, starting with Myspace, social media began to change. We started posting selfies, carefully manicuring our personal profiles, and increasingly communicating with one another online. Facebook came along and at first it was a college student only website. With the expansion of Facebook to encompass anyone in the world, including our parents and bosses, there were some issues that we began to deal with. 

Do we have to self-censor nowadays? If we do, does it inhibit part of our personality? What can companies do to protect themselves from incidents such as my coworker’s? As future managers, we will have to deal with issues such as this, and we must learn how to handle them effectively.

About the Author


Marlon Wong-Granados is a transfer student and Hospitality Management major at Cal Poly Pomona. His focus is on Restaurant Management. His ultimate goal is to be a restaurant operator and make a positive impact in the restaurant industry. He enjoys food, soccer, boxing, and travel.


References

Reid, R.D. and Bojanic, D.C. (2010). Hospitality Marketing Management (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 

The picture was downloaded from the TopRankBlog.com 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Elusiveness of Modern Brand Loyalty (by Rachel Watts)

In today's hospitality industry, companies are doing more and more to attract new customers. Money is poured into increased services, adaptations with changing technologies, corporate social responsibility programs, and intensive advertising strategies. So why is the concept of brand loyalty still so difficult to come by? According to Profitroom’s 2016 Report on Hotel Sales & Marketing Trends, consumers visit up to eighteen different websites before selecting a room. This includes company's social media pages, advising sites like Yelp, as well as the numerous OTAs (online travel agents) that are available.

The heavy argument in favor of OTAs is their sometimes-substantially-lowered price points and the fact that their presence increases competition and drives overall market prices down. In my time working for an independent 180 room hotel, I grew to resent the existence of OTAs. The expectation of a hotel visit is to have a nearly flawless experience, but OTA benefits abruptly stop as soon as the transaction goes through. I have watched numerous guests stand outside of the lobby frantically booking a room through a third party site on their mobile device and then waltzing in and attempting to check in. However, it can sometimes take up to a couple of hours for these transactions to get fully processed through the OTA and then integrated into the hotel PMS. Additionally, a front desk clerk will assume that anyone booking through an OTA is a one-time guest, and will not go through any extra lengths to improve the guest's stay. An OTA reservation will often be placed in a room that has fewer amenities, is a farther walk, or has a worse view. This is not intended as a slight on the customer, it is just a good business practice to save the better rooms for patrons that are more likely to give a return on the investment. With that in mind, if all a customer chooses to value is the dollar amount of the room, then it is reasonable to see the draw of OTAs.

Many businesses have intensive brand loyalty programs that promote a mutually beneficial relationship between the businesses and their consumers. According to the Pareto Principle, 20% of invested input is responsible for 80% of the results obtained. Therefore, in the hotel industry, it can be argued that 80% of profits derive from 20% of guests. Hotels are increasingly developing ways to personalize service, rather than separating guests into generalized categories. Although it is often considered a necessary evil, it is important to note the importance of email lists. Profitroom found that clients open e-mails with offers adapted to their needs 6% more often than those who read emails with no customized offers.

Other promotions such as sweepstakes can improve the brand’s image and awareness, and thus is an effective manner. “Marriott Rewards, the company’s award-winning loyalty program, launches its “50 to 50” campaign that includes a sweepstakes which gives members in three countries a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take a group of 50 of their friends and family to attend the game and enjoy an exclusive VIP Super Bowl 50 weekend in the San Francisco Bay area” (Herrera-Davila). Following the sweepstakes, Marriott unveiled a short film where the winner, alongside an NFL player, was able to tell his family the exciting news, which now has over 2.3 million views on YouTube.



The industry has barely begun to scratch the surface of how personalized service can rebuild brand loyalty. An overwhelming majority of modern hotel guests not only appreciate but expect highly personalized service at any property. It is clear that this is an inevitable trend that will continue to grow within the market; the only question that remains is which brands will be able to execute it successfully.

What are some other strategies that hotels can implement in order to build brand loyalty? How can current rewards programs be improved or modified to make them more appealing to guests?

About the Author: 

Rachel Watts is a junior student at The Collins College of Hospitality Management who transferred from the College of Marin in the Bay Area. She has years of industry experience at an independent hotel, and numerous serving/bartending jobs. Rachel is the 2016-2017 President of Eta Sigma Delta Academic Honor Society and will also serve as a Collins College Ambassador. Rachel is currently a Premium Management Intern with Legends at Angel Stadium. After graduating in spring 2017, she is planning to pursue a career in sports and entertainment.

References:

Herrera-Davila, N. (2015, September 10). Marriott International Creates Two Epic Super Bowl 50 Fan Experiences. Retrieved from http://news.marriott.com/2015/09/marriott-international-creates-two-epic-super-bowl-50-fan-experiences.html
Hotel Sales & Marketing Trends 2016. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.profitroom.net/trends-2016 

Monday, June 6, 2016

False Advertisement in the Recruitment of International Students (by Debbie Boedijono)

Studying overseas has become more common these days as opposed to years ago. Not only can international students learn how to communicate with the languages used in the destination country, but they also gain experience living independently without parents and family. The number of students from Indonesia, China, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, and many other countries who study overseas continues to increase. As an international student from Indonesia, I can see that there is a huge increase in the number of Indonesians who decide to pursue their degrees in other countries. In 2013, there were only about 4,000 Indonesians who came to the United States to study. The number has been increasing and now there are more than 6,000 Indonesian students in the United States.

An Advertisement by the Global Tree Overseas Education Consultants

Based on the interviews with fellow international students, the reason Indonesians decided to pursue their degree in the United States is because the universities in the United States are believed to have higher standards. Moreover, many of the advertising campaigns for these universities are very attractive to Indonesians as they offer scholarships and guaranteed job offers after graduation. In other words, it is significant to maintain the standard of education as more and more people depending on these universities to pursue their dreams.

Western Kentucky University, a leading American University with international reach, failed to maintain these high standards. Western Kentucky University made a deal with an international student recruiting company called Global Tree Overseas Education Consultants to fill seats. By luring international students, Global Tree gets a commission that amounts to 15% of the enrolled students' first year’s tuition, which is not a small amount of money. Now, as the university has become dependent on these international recruiters, educators fear that these international students will become victims.

Western Kentucky University neglected the standard of education with 106 of 132 students (80% of students) who were admitted scoring below the university requirement on English skills. Many people are concerned and worried that these would become worse in the following year, if this neglect continues. Years ago, the Western Kentucky University had decided to recruit international students in order to introduce global cultures to its domestic students. As time passed by, the school’s motives completely changed and now exhibit tendencies toward economic self-benefit due to cuts in state funding.

In my opinion, if this problem continues to grow, many people including international students, their families, local students, and the reputation of many universities, will be damaged. In the long run, this problem could undermine the perceived value of being educated in the United States. Moreover, by recruiting way too many international students, their local students will suffer too because they won’t get the same treatment as international students do as they pay less for tuition. But, is this the main purpose of universities? Does Western Kentucky University want to keep doing this and harm the reputation of United States universities?

About the Author:

Debbie Boedijono is a senior student at The Collins Collage of Hospitality Management in Cal Poly Pomona. She is originally from Surabaya, Indonesia, but she moved to California in 2013 and studied in Pasadena City College for two years. Even though her area of study has an emphasis in restaurant management, she is also interested in hotel management. Moreover, she plans to graduate in the Spring of 2017. Currently, she is still deciding which clubs to join and also looking for internships this following summer. After pursuing her Bachelor’s degree, she plans to gain some experience in the United States before going back to her home country.

References:

Saul, S. (2016, April 19). Recruiting Students Overseas to Fill Seats, Not to Meet Standards. Retrieved April 24, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/20/us/recruiting-students-overseas-to-fill-seats-not-to-meet-standards.html?_r=0
Witherell, S. (2015, November 16). IIE Releases Open Doors 2015 Data. Retrieved April 24, 2016, from http://www.iie.org/Who-We-Are/News-and-Events/Press-Center/Press-Releases/2015/2015-11-16-Open-Doors-Data#.VxvvcTArLDc
The picture was downloaded from www.nytimes.com


Thursday, June 2, 2016

When is the ever so common “The customer is always right” phrase gone too far? (by Juliana Kanelos)

Ever been a customer somewhere and have a complaint? Probably so, and in that event you probably thought to yourself that you had every right to complain and after all, the customer is always right, right? Well, there will be times when issues will arise in the sales business when it comes to a company and its customers. These moments are called critical incidents. These incidents are basically when an employee is having an interaction with a customer or client and it can be both positive and or negative. It is “a moment of truth” (Reid & Bojanic, 2010). These incidents, when negative incidents that occur, usually stem off of a system failure. Meaning something in the procedures that a company has outlined did not go as planned. I personally have been in this situation as a sales representative in the hospitality industry.

Working in a hotel as a guest services representative, I encounter many different issues and people on a daily basis. On one occasion, I had a guest who was charged a total of $155.41 for his stay. He had complained to me about our prices and I had given him every possible discount I could give while letting him know that was the lowest possible that I personally could offer. He was not satisfied and handed me $150. I politely said I could not take that as that was not the cost of the accommodations. I let him know I would call on the manager so he could speak with him and they could possibly come to some arrangements. He proceeded to name calling me because I did not take the $150. As an employee, what was I to do when I had done nothing wrong? Let myself be insulted and called every bit of worthless in every way? The customer is always right but in this case he was not, or was he?

The manager at the time came to the scene and handled the situation by allowing him to stay the night but he had to pay the proper amount. The guest would only be allowed to stay for that night. Here is where we run into the situation of, did I the employee, as a representative of the company actually respond to the customer needs? "Customer needs failures" is what occurred in my situation. I tried my best to give the customer as low a discount as I could but he was not satisfied. So then this type of failure did occur on this incident but not by lack of trying on my --- the employee's part. When this incident occurs, companies tried their best to recover from the case. My manager spoke with the customer after he had calmed down and let him know that there was just no way to lower his price. The price was firm and there were no further discounts to offer. The customer understood and apologized for the way he had treated me for doing my job. He realized there was only so much I could do as a front desk representative and that I had offered to get the manager so he could better take care of him if it was possible. He realized he had over reacted too quickly. In my particular situation the customer was not right. What is your opinion on a customer is always right?

About the the author:

Juliana Kanelos is a senior at Cal Poly University. She pursuing a degree in Hospitality Management after serving 9 ½ years in the United States Marine Corps. After her journey of active duty, she noticed the hospitality industry was something completely different from what she was used to and decided a career in hospitality would be the best fit for her. So far it has been quite eventful, according to Juliana,  and she is enjoying every minute of it. She plans to work at a Winery in Wine Country Temecula, California after graduation. She is now employed full time as an Ammunition Program Analyst while she is pursuing her degree. She has been married for 9 years and has 3 wonderful children.

References
Reid, D.R., & Bojanic, D.C., (2010) Hospitality Marketing Management. John Wiley & Sons, Inc
The picture was downloaded from http://shusmo.me/2010/02/13/those-darn-angry-customers/