Benchmarking Survey Finds Rapid Movement into Social Media for Online Marketing Initiatives

Mar 30, 2011

Contact:  Glenn Withiam, 607.255.3025, grw4@cornell.edu

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Benchmarking Survey Finds Rapid Movement into Social Media for Online Marketing Initiatives

Ithaca, NY, and Las Vegas, NV, March 30, 2011 – An analysis by a Cornell University researcher finds that hospitality firms rated Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube as the most effective online marketing channels. The research surveyed a total of 426 marketing executives, drawn from the Travelcom conference and Center for Hospitality Research databases, with support from Vantage Strategy and iPerceptions. The report summary will be presented Thursday morning (March 31) at the Travelcom conference in Las Vegas, and the full study will be released by the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research.

"This area is developing quickly," said Ken McGill, EVP of Research for Travelcom, which supported the research. "This study found that about two-thirds of the responding firms maintained a social media strategy and had internal staff that worked on social media to maintain the firm's reputation. But only about half currently provide e-commerce functionality for their customers."

Two-thirds of the sample comprised accommodation marketers, with the remainder being destination marketers or those responsible for other types of marketing. The average online budget for 2010 was about $60,000 for accommodation marketers and $80,000 for destination marketers, but expenditure levels ranged widely, from under $10,000 to over $1 million. Nearly three-quarters of the respondents reported spending less than $10,000 on mobile media in 2010, about two thirds spent less than $10,000 on all social media marketing.

"Looking at these data, companies may want to reconsider their budget appropriations for social media marketing," said Professor Rohit Verma, executive director of the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research, who conducted the study. "When asked what their greatest frustrations are in social media strategies, the markers' top answers by far were budget limitations and lack of resources. It's true that some social media campaigns can be conducted without great expense, but the social media space is rapidly filling up."

About 80 percent of the marketers said that they produced Twitter campaigns and social promotions in-house, but at the other end of the scale, such critical functions as search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising are largely outsourced. Accommodation firms are more likely to outsource all social media functions, including pay-per-call, Twitter campaigns, and pay-per-click management. Destination marketers, on the other hand, generally handle more functions in-house, although they also are more likely to outsource pay-per-click management, search engine optimization, and video distribution than they are pay-per-call, branding, and Twitter campaigns.

When asked which social media site was very effective, the largest percentage of respondents chose Facebook as tops, followed by Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Smaller percentages of respondents rated Gowall, Flickr, MySpace, and FourSquare as very effective. The top purpose for using these social media sites was marketing and promotion, followed closely by commerce and conversion. Just under 60 percent of the respondents said marketing and sales department set and managed social media policies.

About two-thirds of the marketers used agencies to manage online media and place online advertising. Although mobile website development was mostly outsourced, work on social sites was often handled in-house, particularly by destination marketers. Just over half of the accommodation providers maintained blogs, but barely one-third of the destination marketers did so. Blog writers were mostly directors of marketing, social media, or public relations staff. Few blog writers were at the CEO or president level.

About the Travelcom Conference

Scheduled for March 30–April 1 at the Palms Resort Casino in Las Vegas, TravelCom 2011 is the official U.S. Travel Association endorsed online marketing and eCommerce conference. Created by and for the travel industry, the Travelcom conference will present creative strategies for emerging online channels, resulting in new conversions, reservations, and growth in your business. This year's Travelcom conference theme is conversion—gaining reservations from new media. In particular, presentations will focus on ROI of social media, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Operating on an entirely different paradigm than search (what people are looking for), these channels find their worth based on familiar interactions (what people, and their friends, seem to like).
About iPerceptions

iPerceptions is a leading web-focused Voice of Customer analytics provider. Its webValidator Continuous Listening solution, 4Q Suite solution, Web Analytics Solution Profiler (WASP) and proprietary iPerceptions Satisfaction Index (iPSI) turn millions of data points into easy-to-understand strategic and tactical decision support for website marketers. iPerceptions' clients include such well-known brands as InterContinental Hotels, Hyatt, Fairmont, Best Western, Choice Hotels International and Wyndham Worldwide. For more information, please visit: http://www.iperceptions.com.

 About The Center for Hospitality Research
A unit of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, The Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) sponsors research designed to improve practices in the hospitality industry. Under the lead of the center's 81 corporate affiliates, experienced scholars work closely with business executives to discover new insights into strategic, managerial and operating practices. The center also publishes the award-winning hospitality journal, the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly. To learn more about the center and its projects, visit www.chr.cornell.edu.

Center Senior Partners: Hilton Worldwide, McDonald's USA, Philips Hospitality, SAS, STR, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, and TIG Global

Center Partners: Davis & Gilbert LLP, Deloitte & Touche USA LLP, Denihan Hospitality Group, eCornell & Executive Education, Expedia, Inc., Forbes Travel Guide, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Fox Rothschild LLP, French Quarter Holdings, Inc., HVS, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, Jumeirah Group, LRP Publications, Maritz, Marriott International, Inc., Marsh's Hospitality Practice, priceline.com, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Proskauer, Sabre Hospitality Solutions, Schneider Electric, Thayer Lodging Group, Thompson Hotels, Travelport, and WATG

Center Friends: 4Hoteliers.com • American Tescor, LLC • Argyle Executive Forum • Berkshire Healthcare • Center for Advanced Retail Technology • Cody Kramer Imports • Cruise Industry News • DK Shifflet & Associates • ehotelier.com • EyeforTravel • Gerencia de Hoteles & Restaurantes • Global Hospitality Resources • Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) • hospitalityInside.com • hospitalitynet.org • Hospitality Technology Magazine • Hotel Asia Pacific • Hotel China • HotelExecutive.com • Hotel Interactive • Hotel Resource • HotelWorld Network • International CHRIE • International Hotel Conference • International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC) • iPerceptions • JDA Software Group, Inc. • J.D. Power and Associates • Lodging Hospitality • Lodging Magazine • LRA Worldwide, Inc. • Milestone Internet Marketing • MindFolio • Mindshare Technologies • PhoCusWright • PKF Hospitality Research • The Resort Trades • Resort and Recreation Magazine • RestaurantEdge.com • Shibata Publishing Co. • Synovate • The Lodging Conference • The Wall Street Journal • TravelCom Network • UniFocus • USA Today • WageWatch, Inc. • WIWIH.COM • Wyndham Green