Marriott International is one of the largest hotel chains on the planet, and it grew even larger recently after acquiring Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc. This new merger has created a vast company that will offer more than 5,700 properties worldwide with 1.1 million rooms spread across 30 brands in 110 countries. This merger will also more than double Marriott’s foothold in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
These numbers are impressive, to be sure, but the real indication of Marriott International’s success might actually be found on Twitter too, where the company has a whopping 416,000 followers, more than double that of its closest competitors. Experts say that as more and more consumers begin to use social media apps on mobile phones as their primary access points to the internet, having a massive social media following such as Marriott International’s will increasingly be key to success in the hotel and travel industries.
According to New York City-based marketing company eMarketer, by 2017 spending on social media promotions will soar to nearly $36 billion, which will make up 16 percent of all ad spending on the Internet across the globe. Social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, TripAdvisor and others have already the top means for companies, including global hotel chains, to manage their reputations and engage directly with consumers. Reports also show that social media reviews have also risen to rank among the top 3 factors that guests consider while deciding which hotels to stay in.
Arne M. Sorenson, president and chief executive officer of Marriott International, has said that social media use, particularly when it comes to promoting crucial hotel loyalty programs online, is “more relevant than ever. It’s the place we can use technology to compete with new technology programs.”
Indeed, a look at the Twitter followings of five of the biggest hotel chains on the planet seems to bear this out. Marriott International is far and away the world leader in terms of Twitter followers, with Hilton Worldwide placing second with 126,000 followers. According to earnings statements from last year, Marriott International has 1,071,096 rooms in 5,456 hotels, while Hilton Worldwide Holdings ranks second with 737,922 rooms in 4,480 hotels.
Social media impact also extends past the decision to book at a hotel. After a trip, more and more consumers are taking to their social media accounts to share their experiences with friends and family. A recent report from the marketing group Crimson Hexagon has shown that hotel chains must use social media in three crucial ways. These ways include understanding who their guests are, creating a valuable resource for travelers to find information about hotel chains, and promoting the perks that driver consumer loyalty, such as the loyalty programs mentioned by Marriott’s Sorenson.
So yes, it’s important that Marriott International’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc. has given the company a combined 85 million members to its loyalty programs, but what may be even more important in the long run is that through a substantial following on Twitter and other social networks, those numbers will continue to grow.
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