Communication in marketing is an aspect in business which cannot be ignored especially in the advent of globalization, competition, and the consumer society today. This is a clarion call even for the hospitality industry. There have been remarkable changes in the nature and forms of communication marketing, and Blythe (2006) reckons that a business that is to survive in the current situation must factor in and apply the relevant marketing tools and processes.
Whereas various tactics are available for marketers, in the hospitality industry, for example, there are notable gaps, and it is only the best marketers that use them appropriately to maximize their usage in a positive way. Blythe (2006) argues that in business, marketing communications tools have over the years been employed to raise-awareness about a company’s goods or services in the market world. The marketing tools are many and include among others brochures, websites, and mail shots, with the overall objective often is to enhance sales and that’s why it is important to effectively communicate (Blythe, 2006)
This paper addresses Communication Marketing as an important tool in the current business environment, and how it ought to be executed. Further, the paper illuminates on the importance of Communication in Marketing and the current trends in marketing communications. It subsequently zeroes on response of the hospitality industry to current social media trends. In this E-Marketing comes out as a significance communication marketing tool in the current global market.
Current Trends in Marketing Communications
The most common trend in modern marketing communications is the application of integrated marketing communications (IMC). According to Belch & Belch (2003), IMC is “the integration of specialized communication functions that previously operated with varying degrees of autonomy.” The internet has emerged as one platform that has greatly provided a number of modern marketing platforms. Such internet based trends include; keyword buying (advertising on large search engines such as Google), affiliate marketing where firms are buying space where they place their advertisements on the web-pages of other companies that attract a relatively higher visitor traffic, rich media ads and banner advertising (Smith, 1998). According to Till (2009), “pop-ups- appear in separate browser windows when web-pages are being loaded or when they are being closed”. Such pop-ups usually direct visitors to the websites of those companies that have placed them on the web-pages that are being opened or closed. The other platform is blogging where companies have opened blogging sites on the internet where they have employed experts who answer questions and provide detailed information regarding various products and services as customers may ask for.
Podcasting- the delivery of audio content over the internet to i-pods, mp3 players and personal computers on demand (p.791). Such audio messages may contain information on products and are provided to customers who may request for them specifically from the company or download them from the websites of such companies. According to Tourismreview.com, social media unlike other traditional media channels represents a unique and appealing way of transmitting information in all directions- from the company to the customers and from customers to the companies in form of customer feedback. Firms in recent years are leaning towards a social media marketing component. Social media websites like Face-book gives companies a new platform for reaching customers. Rather than using a static web page, social media marketing uses engaging, real time, user generated content in the form of comments and reviews (Moore, 2011). Mashable.com further states that one way that Face-book pages get noticed is when visitors express their approval by clicking on a “Like” button.
Mobile marketing communications is on an upward trend and involves the delivery of direct marketing messages to mobile devices using wireless technologies such as SMS, MMS, Bluetooth, WAP-wireless application protocol, GPRS, and 3G services in the delivery of marketing content to the targeted audiences (Kotler & Armstrong, 2008). Egan (2007) explains that “ambient media usage has also been on an upward trend in the recent past. Ambient media usage involves the erection of huge – poster like messages on building and construction sites, building huge giant- like representations of products and the branding of public transport vehicles with corporate brands”. Such posters carry advertising messages that carry product and service information and are erected strategically, for instance along busy highways and famous entertainment spots. Ambient media is advertising that is not in traditional media and is clever, witty or daring and which causes consumers to stop and pay attention. Point-of purchase communications media are increasingly being used to promote sales. Till (2009) further states that in-store media is used to direct the attention of shoppers and stimulate them to make purchases. Such marketing platforms were not available for promotion purposes in the past but are increasingly being applied in modern marketing activities.
Response of the Hospitality Industry to Current Social Media Trends
Although the hospitality industry has recorded a lot of strides in embracing social media as a new generation platform for marketing communications, some of the players have not lived up to the task. According to 4hoteliers.com, “most of the hotel websites include Face-book, Twitter and LinkedIn “follow us” buttons to bring their customers onboard as fans or followers. However, 4hoteliers.com further notes that “the ability of such hotels to engage and convert anonymous visitors into customers is still an elusive goal for many”. Hospitalitynet.org notes that “the major hindrance why hotels are not fully integrating social media in their marketing communications mix is due to the fact that hotels are still unclear as to how to measure online activities and how to be able to convert their customers’ online engagement into revenue earnings’’. Newsaleseconomy.com states; “the mean time for all groups accessing the internet was 10 hours per week; while those people aged 20-29 spend the most time using social media, followed by 40 to 49 year-olds and 30-39 year-olds’’ (Levitt, n. d).
Indeed, firms are shifting in their communication strategies from traditional marketing communication platforms to modern ones. Such reasons include: the loss of faith in mass advertising, recent media cost inflation, growth in media fragmentation, the recent move to relationship marketing, reliance on highly targeted communication methods and the globalization of marketing strategies. The current communications mix remains the same to a large extent only that they have become more complex due to recent rapid technological advancements and innovations in the marketing industry. Developments in data collection and processing and the growth of urbanity of consumers indicate that the movement from mass to targeted communication will continue into the future.
Recommendations, Action Plan and Implementation for E- Marketing
Based on this, the paper recommends that E-marketing plan for any business, including the hospitality industry, must factor in a number of issues and follow a distinct process and factors. These should include ‘’goals’’, ‘actors’’, ‘’spaces’’ ‘’actions’’ and ‘outcomes’’. Goals show what the communication plan would want to achieve by employing e-marketing, whereas actors stipulate who the marketing personnel and tools represent (Haegele, 2001).
Besides, distinct phases must be followed. Phase one is the identification of communication goals. Here, the management should institute the long term and the short term goals in reference to e-marketing. Phase two is identification of actors. The management must then carefully select those actors suitable for the marketing communication process. Phase three involves identification of applicable spaces. This is arguably the most important component in developing an e-marketing communication plan. Here, the marketing will involve the team, particularly the managers and the administration in selecting the internet spaces they wish to be dominant on, and the ones they would simply have some presence on (Haegele, 2001).
The next stage is identification of action. These will be the specific set of activities to be implemented in trying to achieve the strategic plan in e-marketing and communication. The last phase is on measurement of outcomes. The results are evaluated /assessed in relation the plan goals and objectives. This measurement is to be carried out every often as determined for and by the management committee.
Belch, G. E. (2001). Advertising and Promotion: An Integrated Marketing Communications Perspective. New York: McGraw.
Blythe, J 2006. Principles of marketing. New York: Thompson Publishing Callari, R. (2011). Achieving Social Media ROI for the Hospitality Industry. Web.
Callari, R. (2012, January 4). Social media Marketing Strategies for the Hospitality Industry. Web.
Egan, J. (2007). Marketing Communications. London: Thomson Learning.
Fill, C. (2002). Marketing Communications: Contexts, Strategies and Applications (3rd edn). Harlow: Prentice Hall.
Haegele, K (2001). E-Advertising and e-marketing opportunities. New York: Rosen Publishing Group Inc
Kessler, S. (n.d.). The Tuture of The Hotel Industry and Social Media. Web.
Kotler, P. and Armstrong, G. (2008). Principles of Marketing(12th edn). New Jersey: Pearson Education.
Levitt, C. (n.d.). Social Media Drives Sales- Here’s the Data to Prove It. Web.
Moore, C. (2011, may 19). Hotel Industry trends Include Social Media Marketing. Retrieved April 4, 2012
Smith, P. A. (1998). Marketing Communications:An Integrated Approach. London: Kogan Page.
Till, C. (2009). Marketing Communications: Interactivity, Communities & Content. Edinburg: Prentice Hall.
Tourismreview.com. (n.d.). Online Viral Marketing in Tourism Industry: Social Media Marketing. Web.