Stakeholder Engagement via Social Media in the Hospitality Sector: The Evidence from BRIC Countries

Stakeholder Engagement via Social Media in the Hospitality Sector: The Evidence from BRIC Countries

María del Mar Gálvez-Rodríguez (University of Almería, Spain), Laura Saraite (University of Almería, Spain), Juana Alonso-Cañadas (University of Almería, Spain) and María del Carmen Caba-Pérez (University of Almería, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0708-6.ch002
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Abstract

Although there is little doubt about the increasing use of social media, however, there is little evidence of the real success of social media in the improvement of stakeholders' participation in the hospitality sector. Within this context, this paper aims to perform a comparative analysis of the use of Facebook as a communication strategy for encouraging stakeholder engagement in hotels from Brazil, Russia and India. In general terms, the Facebook pages of Brazilian hotels present the greatest level of online engagement with their stakeholders, followed by those in India and Russia. Moreover, it should be pointed out that in the Brazilian case, stakeholders pay greater attention to answering the messages posted by hotels than to sharing the information. In contrast, in the case of Russia and India, the preferences of stakeholders are towards the spread of the information posted by this sector.
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Introduction

Tourism in BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) has increased dramatically, making these countries key players in the global hospitality and tourism industry (Assis-Dorr et al., 2012; Pop, 2014). Nevertheless, while these countries are very popular among travel consumers and, as many researchers point out, the hospitality industry is very competitive, it is crucial for hotels to implement information technologies (IT) as a strategy to enhance their competitive advantage (Velázquez et al., 2015). The reasoning for this is that IT applications can improve service quality, reduce costs, augment guest satisfaction as well as obtain long term profitability (Karadag & Dumanoglu, 2009; Ruiz-Molina et al., 2011).

With regards to the different IT applications, the growing use of social media among people of all ages should be highlighted (Rybalko & Seltzer, 2010; Sun & Wu, 2012). These tools are online platforms that provide the opportunity for developing online communities and to share the content created by online users (Kim et al., 2010). In this sense, Distaso and McCorkindale (2013), point out that, through these technologies, organizations are able to interact with a greater number of stakeholders and are also able to encourage their stakeholders to participate in the organization in a more active manner. In this respect, there is growing concern about stakeholder engagement in social media as they are key players for fully realizing the potential of social media and specifically for obtaining popularity, dialogue and virality of the information posted on these online platforms (Bonsón & Ratkai, 2013).

Focusing on the benefits of social media in the hospitality sector, Dobele et al. (2005) state that through these applications, travelers can access a wide and reliable database of information, as the information given by others travelers is unfiltered and thus, rather than merely receiving advertising messages from the hotel, social media provides travelers the chance to get to know the hotels they are interested in better thanks to the experiences of other travelers. Consequently, travelers are increasingly demanding the availability of these tools in order to allow them to easily interact with other customers and with the organization (O'Connor, 2010). Thus, hotel companies should be more aware of the importance of increasing their presence on such communication mediums not only to respond to their customers’ expectations but also to make the most of the advantages that these mechanisms possess for obtaining useful feedback regarding their products and services. By becoming more active on social media platforms and making full use of these tools, hotel companies can discover new strategies for improving their overall performance (Hennig-Thurau et al., 2010).

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