SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORK CONTRIBUTION TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY. A RESEARCH PROJECT MATERIAL ON TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT
The rise in popularity of social networking sites has led social networking to become a global phenomenon. After many countries gained Internet access, the increase in the use of Internet started influencing the economy and social life at the beginning of 20th century (Milano, Baggio & Piattelli, 2011). Later on, in the era of Web 2.0, as social networking advanced, an increasing number of users on the Internet began to participate in social networking websites and this has resulted in the system of social networking to change (Milano, Baggio & Piattelli, 2011; Seth, 2012).According to Clark and Robert (2010), social networking sites are now mainly used for “job networking, targeted marketing, and entertainment”. (p.507).
Social networking is a type of social media; social networking sites allow Internet users to connect with people and create information. Social networking sites are originally used for entertainment purposes however an increase in the use of Internet and information communication technologies has shifted the way people communicate with each other, mainly in the hospitality and tourism industries (Assenov & Khurana, 2012; Clark & Roberts, 2010). For instance, social networking sites like Facebook allow registered users to interact globally and freely with people who share the Author: Same interest by uploading photos, sharing posts, chatting, commenting on the posts and also getting replies, such features allow companies to get quick feedback from consumers whereas consumers are able to receive responses immediately. These software and technology features which are available on social networking sites are also part of the Web 2.0 system (Seth, 2012). “Web 2.0 has also given popularity to user generated content (UGC) where information is gathered from different online sources all of which collaborate to form the final source” (Seth, 2012, p. 9). UGC has replaced traditional marketing in terms of media advertising. The advertisements are often sponsored posts promoted by people on social networking sites and these online advertisements appear to be more trustworthy than advertisements from mass media like televisions, radio, newspaper and magazines (Li & Darban, 2012). Manap and Adzharudin pointed out that consumers were more likely to be convinced to buy a product that is recommended by people who had experienced it (experience good) rather than a search good, the researchers also stated that it is possible to frequently utilize this strategy in the tourism industry. (2013)
The change in consumer behavior is majorly affected by the social networking sites which provide platforms for consumers to connect with the company and other consumers (Bilgihan, Peng & Kandampully, 2014).The explosive growth of the population of Internet user son social networking sites has had a huge impact on hospitality and tourism industry whereby consumers are changing the rule of marketing.