The Challenges and Opportunities of Social Media in the Hospitality Industry. A Study of the North East Region of Romania

AuthorAndreea Maha
European Integration - Realities and Perspectives. Proceedings 2015
The Challenges and Opportunities of Social Media in the Hospitality
Industry. A Study of the North East Region of Romania
Andreea Maha1
Abstract: The purpose of this article is to explain what are the key benefits and challenges of Social Media
adoption and to underline the importance of Social Media for hotel industry. The importance of Internet in
sales and promotion of tourism products is reflected in the figures of recent studies. So cial Media represents a
new form of communication between hotels and consumers. In tourism, one of the most popular topics for
Social Media is to share your experience: writing reviews, post photos, videos and comments. This consumer-
generated content is considered credible and unbiased. Hotel industry is facing a similar situation now with
Social Media, as they were hesitating to create a website. One of the major errors is that hotels do not respond
to social media posts. We assessed the presence and visibility of each 84 hotels on the three major Social
Media channels (namely Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) at the end of the year 2014. Where the official
presence was not immediately found (usually the visitor is redirected fro m the official website), the first three
pages search results were examined to try to establish the hotels official Facebook/Twitter/YouTube account.
We carried out content analysis off all hotel Social Media accounts categorized between 3 to 5 stars in the
North-East Region of Romania. Following our analysis, it was ob served that North-East‘s hotel units own in
a 95% proportion an online presence. We cannot say the same thing about their presence on the Social Media
platform. Surprisingly, most of the hotels we have analyzed have a functional website, 80 out of 84 hotels.
We also noticed that the presence in Social Media is at the opposite pole (compared to the number of existing
web pages), so that only 48 hotels have a Facebook page, 10 hotels have a Twitter account and 10 hot els have
an YouTube account. Of the three networks we notice that Facebook is the most used network by hoteliers in
the North-East region of Romania, Twitter and YouTube are apparently not that popular. Social Media
accounts are not used at their full capa city and from the total number identified on each segment, not all have
a direct reference from their own site, for in case of Facebook 31 out of 48, Twitter 7 out of 10 and YouTube
7 out of 10. The most important limitation is considered to be the consistency of the sample we used. We only
investigated the hotels (rated 3 to 5 stars) from the North-East region of Romania. A sample including all the
hotels from Romania would have given a more realistic view of the use o f Social Media in the hospitality
industry. Another possible study limitation can be that the Social Media accounts may have been missed as it
did not feature in the first three pages search results. The worst part is th at the same mistake would be made
by the potential customers searching for that hotel that is why we considered this error an acceptable one. As
we made only a qualitative research, the results must be validated in a future research. The results of this
research can be used by hotel managers and also by those who manage Internet websites. Business people
who in tend to enter on hospitality market might also be interested in this information. For the North -East
region of Ro mania, during our documentation stage for this article, there was no study identified, similar to
the one we realized. Also Romania, as a country where tourism industry it is in earl y stages of development,
needs to benefit from th is kind of research, for creating new strategies and implement best practices in the
1 P hD in progress, Doctoral School of Economics and Business Administration, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi,
Romania, Address: 11 Carol I Blvd., Iasi 700506, Romania, Tel.:+4 0721 100 900, fax: +4 0232 213 900, Correspond ing

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