Thursday, August 19, 2010

Online Trends

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We see that Nielsen have recently published a report on internet usage in the United States and there are some interesting trends that will be comparable to users in New Zealand.

The stats reveal that online activities on social networks are increasingly a big deal. We have all read gushing media reports about the importance of social media and impressive user figures of the social network platforms. Now that social media has overtaken porn as the number 1 activity on the web, we intuitively know that as a business operator we need to be in this space!

The big daddy of social media is Facebook that has been able to reach 200 million users in 12-months and has recently claimed to have surpassed 500 million users. It is difficult to put this into context without breaking down exactly how Facebook users are using this medium. As a business operator we are interested in finding out how many users are open to be persuaded on ways to spend discretionary income from information posted by their commercial friends on social networks?

Facebook is of course not the only social media platform out there and a 43% jump in time that internet users spend on all social media networks tells us that the public are giving more credence to other people's recommendations and opinions.

Most of the leading examples in the travel industry that are using social media well are larger corporates. Air New Zealand is arguably the best example of a company that manipulates all media extremely well.

What we are interested in is how small accommodation business operators can use social media to their advantage to achieve an acceptable ROI on the time and effort that they invest. There are a few that are active in this space, however we find it difficult to find good examples of small accommodation providers that are churning out compelling content.

So what would make a member of the public follow the social network of a motel operator? Would they be interested in the motel's latest weekend specials, the new widescreen LCD TVs, local events or the operator's progress on Farmville? In our humble opinion most moteliers find it difficult to find an appropriate, consistent pitch and articulate a compelling reason for the public to follow them on social networks.

There seems to be a stilted reluctance and inability for most moteliers to expose themselves to the world via social networks. This is ironic, as behind the counter or on the phone, most motel operators sell themselves extremely well without hesitation. When it comes to telling a story about themselves and their business online in a powerful, irresistible way, most moteliers fail miserably - including ourselves.

We like to use the adage that: 
"In the motel business, the money is made in the office, not on the ride-on mower." 
While attending the eTourism Conference at the end of this month, we will be contemplating the new skills "in the office" that will be needed if we wish to maximize social media platforms to maintain and attract new business.

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