Wanderlust- an intriguing word isn’t it? Lust for traveling they say isn’t just about the destination; it’s also about the journey, the stay and the food. Now some have dream destinations while some (like me) just have dream hotels. In the real world, these luxury 5 stars are catering to the elite of society (and a few people that have special occasions), so is social media the right place for them? To find out if and how they are reaching out to guests in the social space, I dived in to their social media stats. Here’s what I discovered for the period July 15th– August 15th, 2013.
First off, certain brands such as Hyatt, Radisson, Marriott and Hilton (basically the foreign hotel groups) have a fragmented social media presence, i.e. they often have individual pages for hotels in different locations but do not have a collective page for India as most of the Indian hotels do. For this reason, some of the well-known hotel groups have been omitted from the analysis. Secondly, I was surprised to see all the analyzed brands on YouTube, but only Taj, Oberoi, Park and LaLiT seemed to be on Pinterest.
Facebook Growth of the luxury hotel chains
To get a quick snapshot of how these hotel groups are performing on social media, you can use the Unmetric Score. This Score is the first ever sector aware benchmarkable score that takes into consideration various quantitative and qualitative metrics to rank a brand against its competitors. The LaLiT Hotels, Palaces & Resorts tops the chart followed by ITC.
[pullquote id=”lhipull” class=”left_pull”]The LaLiT topped the charts in terms of raw fan numbers and in terms of growth during the period analysed.[/pullquote]
The fans of these brands are pre-dominantly male and under 30, which is the general Indian Facebook demographic and therefore not surprising. The LaLiT topped the charts in terms of raw fan numbers and in terms of growth during the period analysed. This was a bit of a shocker for me and the rest of the Unmetric team, since the hotel chain is not as widespread when compared to some of the others in the analysis. We also noticed that at the start of the analysis period, The Park was in the lead, but LaLiT managed to grow much faster and ended up with the most fans. This could be attributed to offline/in hotel campaigns, since we didn’t notice any online campaigns from the brand. It is also interesting to note that since the analysis, LaLiT has been slowly losing fans.
The LaLiT ramped up its fan base by a massive 19% during the time period analyzed. When compared to the sector average of 6%, most brands only grew very slowly. ITC Hotels is a close second and grew more than twice as fast as third placed Oberoi Hotels.
So the next question is: how well are these hotels engaging their fans? To answer this, I used the Engagement Score, which is a calculation based on the number of Likes, Comments, Shares and estimated impressions, so a page with a lower fan base can still have a better engagement score than a page with a huge fan base even if they don’t get as many interactions. Leela Palace engaged the best with their fans with an engagement score of 116 (which is more than double the sector average of 46). This is appreciation worthy especially since they put out only 31 updates in the time period analyzed. ITC, on the other hand, posted the most number of updates and only managed to engage fans as good as the average luxury hotel.
The general content strategy for all these hotels involves regular posts about ongoing food festivals, trivia about the heritage of the hotel/destination, season offers and festival greetings. Unmetric tags all the posts made by a brand to understand the content strategy and none of the hotels were found to post anything unusual and didn’t deviate from these topics.
Most Engaging Facebook Posts: Below are the top 2 posts from the brands which engaged the best with their fans based on the Unmetric Engagement Score. The Engagement Score is calculated based on the number of Likes, Comments, Shares and Estimated Impressions to give an easily comparable and benchmarkable score. The Engagement Scores are exceptionally high for all three posts given the fact that the average engagement for these brands is actually quite low. When we see a brand’s post doing far better than its average post, it’s possible that some paid promotion was done to increase the reach, which in turn results in higher engagement.
1. Fortune Hotels– Engagement Score: 400 (the sector average was just 46)
2. Oberoi Hotels & Resorts– Engagement Score: 398
Twitter Chatter by The Luxury Hotel Chains
ITC has the highest Unmetric score on Twitter followed by Taj. LaLiT, which was flying high on Facebook, doesn’t seem to have given the same priority to Twitter. I found this to be interesting as it’s a classic case of how some brands focus on one social network a lot more than others.
While Lemon Tree and Leela Palaces do not appear to have a Twitter handle (another example of brands only wanting to focus on one social network), in-depth metrics of Fortune hotels weren’t available as the brand was added very recently to the Unmetric database.
Oberoi has an enviable number of people following them on Twitter which is well above the sector norm. Park Hotels comes in second with just over 5,000 followers. These numbers are impressive for the Indian market, but when compared to hotels in the U.S., where the average follower base is a 5 digit figure, the scope for growth is massive. In fact, Indian brands from sectors such as Aviation, Restaurant and Cafés have also been doing a lot better than the luxury hotel sector.
While many other sectors have singled out Twitter as a customer service platform, these hotels use it for a combination of marketing and customer service. Taj, for example, has tweeted out over 353 replies (which is 74% of all their tweets) and 52 proactive tweets and also re-tweet the positive tweets. What is commendable is that each reply is tailor made and they don’t shy away from apologizing. However, on the downside, their Average Reply Time (ART) is 20 hours.
Most of the tweets in which these brands are mentioned are about customers registering their experience and just striking up small conversations. These hotels also receive tweets which are enquiries about the service, restaurant menus, etc. Though they also receive complaints, these are fewer in number and are quickly taken offline.
The ART of these hotel chains is quite high at over 10 hours which means people essentially have to wait for almost half a day to get a response.
However, do the people who can afford to stay in luxury hotels brag or complain on a public forum like Twitter? Do these luxury hotels really need to respond to tweets that mention them? I’m going to have to say yes. There are plenty of enquiry based tweets that need to be responded to and when people share memories of their stay, the hotel can get involved in the conversation.
These brands are doing well for themselves on YouTube as well. Most brands have been active on the site for over 4 years now, except for Lemon Tree which doesn’t have a YouTube account.
The Park Hotels’ channel has the most subscribers, but it is surprising that they don’t get even a few hundred views on their videos. Upon a deeper look into the channel, I found that they had a sudden growth spurt where they went from zero to 2,000 subscribers in June/July. Though we can’t say for sure how this spike occurred, it could be the result of a paid advertising campaign. Taj’s YouTube channel, Taj Movies, comes second with just 309 subscribers.
A good YouTube content strategy is about creating videos that are likeable and shareable. Humour has always been a successful genre but I doubt if that is the best idea for a luxury hotel. Unlike many brands which just bank on uploading their TVCs to the channel, all these luxury hospitality brands have excelled in creating unique and interesting videos. Most videos are a virtual tour of the hotel/resort or a documentation of a VIP’s stay at the hotel. Videos tend to be over 3 minutes long, an achievement in the social media world where short form is taking over and attention spans are shrinking by the second. This is quite surprising since they are fighting it out with 140 character tweets, 15 second funny clips and 6 second Vines.
The Taj Movies channel has got the most views collectively from all their 19 videos. Their video of the Taj Falkuna Palace in Hyderabad was the most popular among all. On the other hand, ITC has the most videos in its channel and has received over 30,000 views, which is approximately 900 views per video.
Except for Trident (which added one video to its channel in the time period analyzed), none of the other brands added new videos to their YouTube channel. The YouTube channels of a few of these chains like Oberoi and ITC have been inactive for a couple of months; Leela’s last activity was 3 years ago. The reason for this lack of activity on YouTube could be anything: lack of resources, failure to see any translation in terms of sales, in-company conflict of ideas etc. Though we can’t put a finger on just one of these reasons, it’s safe to say that it’s time to overcome the issues and engage a lot better on this social network like other brands in India.
To sum up, the performance of these brands on the different networks sure impressed me but there is no doubt that there is a lot more that they could be doing. While I am going to leave that for these brands (or perhaps their respective agencies) to figure out, I cross my fingers and hope I get to stay at one of these hotels on my next business trip (is my boss reading this?!).
Disclosure: Unmetric is an advertiser at LHI.