Why Hotels Should Continue to Monitor Social Media Sentiment During Coronavirus

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Why Hotels Should Continue to Monitor Social Media Sentiment During Coronavirus

By Martin Stoll, CEO, Sparkloft Media - 03/27/2020

Understanding what customers are thinking is crucial for any organization, especially in today’s hyper-fluid world, where the rise of social media offers real-time news, insights, concerns and complaints. Decision makers within the hospitality industry must have a finger on the pulse at all times, and social media data analysis is the strongest way to comprehend how locals and incoming tourists consider and plan their next trip.

Social media is the most effective platform to share information and directly communicate with consumers, but it can easily be misguided if messages aren’t perfectly crafted and delivered to followers. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, it’s even more important to review this data and track how opinions on travel and specific destinations are changing. Luckily a deep dive into social media insights, which in the past required focus groups and intercept studies, can now be generated with the push of a button.

We’ve reached a point in the Coronavirus outbreak where crisis management scenarios are being addressed as new information makes itself available. How are travelers reacting? Are guests worried about staying in hotels? Are they more concerned about sanitary conditions or sharing space with potentially infected guests? When can they rebook their postponed trips?

Any question or potential issue that may impact guests can be measured and analyzed through a comprehensive sentiment analysis strategy. These in-depth social media sentiment reports can be used by hoteliers as part of a crisis plan to fine-tune marketing campaigns and identify and better collaborate for alternative opportunities.

Social sentiment is a key statistic for marketers and in-house hospitality marketing teams. Monitoring sentiment uncovers extremely powerful insights to ensure messages delivered to fans and followers, meet the expectations of those scrolling through their feeds, or taking to social threads to speak directly to brands. Understanding how sentiment, which is not simply a measure of negative or positive posts, but a measure of a post’s’ tone, impacts travel and corporate events, has resulted in strategic, but most of all, effective ongoing social campaigns, which can be updated in real-time.

Deep listening processes allow social media managers to research travel and Coronavirus worries on a granular level; what travelers are thinking and posting about specific destinations. While we normally monitor conversations about hotels, attractions, safety, nightlife and recreation, the process can answer specific questions, specifically about Coronavirus. It’s important to use this data to understand:

·      How is sentiment shifting week-by-week (or day-by-day)?

·      What are the main influences shaping the conversation?

·      How is my region affected, compared to other destinations?

·      Are travelers changing trips or postponing travel?

·      What are the main concerns of travelers?

 

With this information, hotels can:

·      Adapt crisis communication strategies

·      Keep messaging on social media up-to-date

·      Adjust marketing plans

·      Ensure partners and customers are informed

 

Marketers must segment their sentiment analysis by age groups and other key components to ensure all potential guests and markets are covered. Develop a monitoring alert for those younger and more eager-to-travel as the pandemic fades and more areas open up to public use, in addition to those generations who are at a higher risk of contracting the virus and may want to socially distance for a longer period. Keep in mind the surrounding “drive-market” for travelers who may still be interested in visiting your destination, with alternate transportation plans.

In the upcoming weeks, sentiment within the hospitality industry will continue to shift, whether travel bans are extended, causing corporate travel and vacation to be pushed out further, or vacant hotels become more of a crucial piece of the Coronavirus support system. It’s important to remember that negative social sentiment in this situation will not likely be towards a specific hotel or destination, but more of an overall frustrated mindset of consumers. It could, however, shift to a more positive sentiment if hotels and other tourism staples work with government authorities to help aid in the fight against the virus.

Remember, there is a tremendous opportunity to keep these future travelers updated through strong, strategic social media, with comprehensive analytic monitoring. Social sentiment will be one of the strongest indicators to the travel mindset of the consumer for the foreseeable future.