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Social Media Marketing by Russian Luxury Hotels. Before, during and after the Trip

Scientific Study 2015 66 Pages

Business economics - Marketing, Corporate Communication, CRM, Market Research, Social Media

Excerpt

Contents

1. Introduction
1.1. Justification of research
1.2. Academic and industry background
1.3. Research aim and objectives

2. Literature review
2.1. Definition of social networks, social media and social media marketing
2.2. Adoption of social media marketing by hotels
2.3. Social media management in hospital industry: major areas of research.
2.4. Social media and three main stages of trip
2.5. Social media and luxury hotels
2.6. Research Questions Stem from Literature Review

3. Methodology of research
3.1. Philosophy of research
3.2. Approach
3.3. Methods, Data Collection
3.4. Sampling
3.5. Ethical Considerations
3.6. Research Analysis, data analysis methods

4. Presentation of findings
4.1. Interviews with the representatives of Russian luxury hotels
4.1.1. General online marketing activities, SEO, web-design and issues beyond social media marketing
4.1.2. Russian luxury hotels and third party booking and aggregator services
4.1.3. Social networks Russian luxury hotels focus on
4.1.4. People/agencies responsible for social media marketing in Russian luxury hotels
4.1.5. Approaches to measuring the effectiveness of social media marketing by Russian luxury hotels.
4.1.6. Profile of customers came from third party booking websites and online books services
4.2. Implementation of social media strategy: prominent foreign case studies
4.2.1. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
4.2.2. Ritz-Carlton
4.2.3. Trump Hotel Collection
4.2.4. Hilton Worldwide
4.2.5. Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
4.3. Survey of the Clients

5. Conclusions

6. Recommendations
6.1. Recommendations based on the interviews and survey
6.2. Recommendations for Russian luxury hotels
6.3. Recommendations for SMM agencies and Social Networks popular in Russia

7. Final Chapter

8. References

9. Appendix

Appendix A: Interviews
Elizabeth Proskurina , Social Communications Specialist at Astra Media Group
Anastasia Usova , PR manager at Helvetia Hotel
Maria Kushcheva, Personal Assistant to General Manager at Raddisson Royal Moscow
(Anonimous)
Elena Kozhukhova, Marketing Specialist at AZIMUT Hotels Company
Dmitry Melnikov, General Manager at Solo Sokos Hotel Vasilievsky
Ekaterina, PR Manager at Sheraton Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport Hotel
Pavel, PR and Marketing Manager at Rossi Boutique Hotel
Anna Shkryl, Marketing Coordinator at Sokos Hotels St.Petersburg
Uliana Krayneva, E-commerce Manager at Belmond Grand Hotel Europe

Appendix B: Secondary data on Case Studies

Appendix C: List of semi structured questions guided the interviews

Abstract

Most of the markets experience decreasing loyalty of customers (Neslin, 2006). However, social media and user-generated content “continuing dialogue” can enhance sales and improve loyalty (Leue et al., 2013). Social media marketing is seen as one of the fastest growing approaches to marketing, especially within such information and labour intensive sectors as hospitality (Laudon and Traver, 2010; Leue et al., 2013). Studying content at social networks and review websites can help reveal requirements of customers and flaws in services (Dellarocas, 2003). There is a lack of academic research on the effectiveness of particular approaches to the SMM in particular regional environments (Leung et al., 2011; Rosman and Stuhura, 2013). Moreover, there is a research gap in the topic of Russian luxury hotels and their SMM strategies. Hence the aim of the research, "To reveal the approaches to social media marketing Russian luxury hotels use before, during and after the trip (according to Euromonitor International model), find the patterns of using social media and aggregator websites by their clients and provide recommendations based on the collected data." This is done by interviewing specialists on social media marketing in Russia and the representatives of Russian luxury hotels and surveying 40 frequent customers of Russian luxury hotels.

The literature review reveal several major issues to study: difference between social media marketing and other online marketing activities, work with major third party booking and aggregator services (UGC), work with major social networks, responsibility for SMM, measuring the effectiveness of SMM, and profile of the customers attracted by SMM activities.

The research uses the pragmatism philosophy number of research and data collection techniques, both qualitative and quantitative, both primary and secondary, to analyse the data and try to offer the reliable and valid information that would have practical implications for luxury hotels in Russia. There is a large list of interviewed, some are presented in Appendix.

The findings show that the division on “before, during and after the trip” stages of SMM activities is not used in the real life. Russian luxury hotels are very good in SEO-optimisation, however hotels are increasingly spending on search ads, while they are not well-experienced in SMM. Two most prominent third party booking and aggregator services were booking.com and tripadvisor.rum, however, the most popular platforms included Russian services, such as ostrovok.ru. Apart from the evident focus on working with such third-party services as Booking.com and TripAdvisor, Russian luxury hotels focus on Facebook, neglecting Odnoklassniki and Vkontakte. Russian hotels generally do not use the opportunities of Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest and even YouTube, as they are not effective for them. In most of the cases, the hotels avoided outsourcing SMM activities, due to the trust issues, especially after the number of incident related to buying “fake” likes, comments, comments and subscribers. The overall strategy and content is under the supervision of the Deputy Director and or PR/Marketing managers (in rare cases “E-commerce Managers,”) while replaying to the requests and inquiries is under the responsibility of the managers for operations. However, the strategy can often prescribed by HQ in the case of the representatives of large hotel groups. It is hard to measure the effectiveness of social media marketing efforts. Considering the small luxury hotels, it is almost impossible, given their limited resources and competences. It is hard to reveal the profile of the customers who come from third party booking websites and online books services at social networks; however, they are generally younger and more technologically savvy.

Those interested in the recommendations to the hotels, SMM agencies and social networks, can read the final chapter and skip the other parts, as the final part is very concise and short.

1. Introduction

1.1. Justification of research

In recent decades luxury hotel sector was experiencing decreasing loyalty of customers, one reason was the growing importance of intermediaries, especially online channels (Neslin, 2006). However, the rise of social media and user-generated content made it possible to maintain a “continuing dialogue” to enhance sales and improve loyalty (Leue et al., 2013). Social media marketing is seen as one of the fastest growing approaches to marketing, especially within such information and labour intensive sectors as hospitality (Laudon and Traver, 2010; Leue et al., 2013). Studying content at social networks and review websites can help reveal requirements of customers and flaws in services (Dellarocas, 2003).

In 2010-2011, the World Travel Market Industry Reports noticed an increased importance of social media (mostly TripAdvisor and Facebook) in selection of hotels by leisure travellers on developed markets (Koumelis, 2011). In 2012-2013, it is suggested this trend expanded to emerging markets, while social media and e-commerce development resulted in new peer-to-peer business models threatening the traditional hospitality industry (WTM, 2013).

However, the major problems with social media and hotels, according to Leue et al. (2013) and other authors are the lack of well-defined social media strategy and responsibility, difficulties in distinction with general online marketing strategy, difficulties in measuring the accessible effects on sales, lack of large set of examples to follow or to critically analyse (Chan and Guillet, 2011). While there is a growing number of successful cases on social media marketing by luxury hotels and growing number of researches studying the peculiarities of social media marketing on certain markets (such as UK Luxury Hotels by Leue, 2013) none of the research was done about these major issues on the example of Russian luxury travel market. There is lack of any analysis of the examples of the implementation of social media marketing by prominent Russian luxury hotels contrasted with the information about patterns of behaviour of clients and compared with the examples of prominent foreign cases.

1.2. Academic and industry background

This part is based on own literature review in 2014 (Kistaubaeva, 2014). As for the end of 2014, the rise of social networks and services is still continuing:

- Facebook reached more than 1.35 billion of monthly active users (Rushton, 2014).
- YouTube reached 1 billion of monthly active users (Reuters, 2013).
- Twitter achieved 500 million of users and the milestone of 500 million tweets a day (Edwards, 2013).
- Foursquare and Swarm achieved a number of 40 million users (Statt, 2014).
- Trip Advisor achieved a number of 75 million of user reviews and opinions, and 60 million of monthly unique visitors (Team, 2013).

Despite of their novelty, social media is now evolving into an integral part of marketing strategy of any business; presence on major social network, such as Facebook or Twitter has become a necessary thing (Bosari, 2013). The 2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report highlighted that 97% of surveyed businesses participate in social media marketing, 86% of marketers said that social media was important to their businesses, however majority of the respondents are still uncertain or not convinced about the effectiveness of their social media marketing strategies and their approaches (Stelzer, 2013).

According to Garthner, the income of social media in the world in 2013 amounted to $ 28.9 billion (Mitukhina, 2014). According to Socialbakers, Russia ranked first in the world for the cost of advertising in Facebook among large economies: cost avg. for CPC is $ 1.57, avg. CPM is $ 0.89. For comparison, the cost of avg. CPM in Japan is $ 0.39, and in the U.S. is $ 0.19. However, these countries occupy the second and third place ranking in the total cost of advertising for Facebook, respectively.

The number of Internet users in Russia still also growing. VTsIOM at the beginning of 2014 said that Internet is used by 68% of Russia's population (Mitukhina, 2014). More than 84 % of Internet users (According to RACA, the figure is almost 100%) were registered in social networks, giving preference to local resources (ibid). “Classmates” (Odnoklassniki.ru) are used by 73% of users, the network “Vkontakte” had 67% , "My World" - 29%. Facebook and Twitter are using 21% and 11% of users, respectively (Mitukhina, 2014). “My World”, Facebook and Twitter are recognized as the fastest growing social networks in Russia. However, the issue of proper implementation of SMM in Russia remain complex and problematic for business (ibid).

Early literature review reveals that the influence of SMM can be divided on three areas based on their usage by travellers: before the trip, after the trip and during the trip (Kistaubaeva, 2014). Due to the higher level of involvement of travel products, customers usually try to collect a greater amount of information about the hotels plan to stay at; this includes reviews of other customers (Jeng and Fesenmaier, 2002). Customers often regard word of mouth (WOM) as a credible source information about the travel products (Murphy et al., 2007). UGC (User-Generated Content) is one of the major factor for choosing a particular destination and hotel, as Tussyadiah et al. (2011) argue.

Social media management/marketing (SMM) is beneficial for hospitality companies in conducting an analysis of customer needs and requirements by studying user-generated content (UGC) (Dellarocas, 2003). SMM is integrated into the (online) customer management systems hotels and other hospitality companies; increasing attention is paid to the number of followers on major social network pages (Fuchs et al., 2009; Sánchez-Franco, 2010; Rosman and Stuhura, 2013). The topic of SMM in decision-making process of leisure and business travellers is trending (Chan and Guillet, 2011; Li and Wang, 2011; Manthiou, 2013; Leung et al., 2013). The regional peculiarities of SMM are crucial to study because of the scarcity of such information (Buhalis and Law, 2008). However, there is a lack of academic research on the effectiveness of particular approaches to the SMM in particular regional environments (Leung et al., 2011; Rosman and Stuhura, 2013).

1.3. Research aim and objectives

Taking into account the growing importance of social media marketing for luxury hotels and lack of any research about social media marketing for luxury hotels in Russia, the following research aim and objectives were proposed:

Research aim: To reveal the approaches to social media marketing Russian luxury hotels use before, during and after the trip, find the patterns of using social media and aggregator websites by their clients and provide recommendations based on the collected data.

Research objectives:

1) To reveal and critically evaluate how Russian luxury hotels implement social media, user-generated content and aggregator websites in their marketing activities:

a) By interviewing specialists on social media marketing in Russia in the sphere of travel and tourism, including those working for outsource agencies;
b) By interviewing the representatives of Russian luxury hotels.

2) To reveal and critically evaluate how the customers of Russian luxury hotels use social media and aggregator websites by surveying 40 frequent customers of Russian luxury hotels.

3) To provide recommendations on how to increase the effectiveness of implementation social media by luxury hotels in Russia during the three stages of luxury hotel's customer experience: before, during and after the trip:

a) By reflecting on the information about the prominent foreign case studies;
b) By analysing the recommendations of the specialists on social media marketing in Russia in the sphere of travel and tourism;
c) By synthesising the information revealed from the analysis of the data collected for objective 1 and 2 and information from the prominent foreign case studies.

Hence, it can be said that given the brief introductory information and research aim and objectives listed, the idea of the research project already fully complies with the suggestions of Watson (1994) and his What? Why? How (conceptually and practically)? Box.

2. Literature review

2.1. Definition of social networks, social media and social media marketing

Social network, in its initial sense, was the network of personal contacts, and the term was predominately used in sociology and related spheres, however, later, online technologies fostered the creation of online communities of people, usually with a common interest (and ultimately, with the interest of unobstructed communication) to share different information (Boyd and Ellison, 2007). Now, this term is used predominately for defining such websites and online services.

The rise of social networks resulted in the growing prominence of social media. Social media can be defined as the method of electronic communication with the help of social networks, blogging and microblogging, when users create information, share own thoughts and ideas, and other content, by themselves or in group of people (Andzulis et al., 2012). Social media were initially thought to be used by people to share information with the relatives, friends and likeminded people, however later it became actively utilised by business as the part of marketing strategy to reach out to increased number of customers with a greater effectiveness (Andreas and Haenlein, 2010).

Hence, social media marketing (SMM) can be defined as the part of marketing (or online marketing) strategy of an organisation that uses social networks as one of the marketing tools (Andzulis et al., 2012).

2.2. Adoption of social media marketing by hotels

The growth of the number of social networks users growing importance of social network connections in everyday lives resulted in the increasing attention of academic researchers in SMM. During the years of the formation of Web 2.0, Wang and Fesenmaier (2004) revealed that social media could be very beneficial for the management of customers relations because of greater ability of revealing customers attitudes towards the services, creating customers engagement and building customer loyalty. Dellarocas (2003) notes that social media management can help hotels to conduct an in-depth analysis of customers’ needs and requirements, and suggests the ways for analysis of user-generated content, using such websites as Virtualtourist and TripAdvisor. Indeed, an increasing number of hotels integrate their websites and online customer management systems into the application within social networks, while also paying attention to increasing the number of fans and followers on major social networks (Rosman and Stuhura, 2013).

2.3. Social media management in hospital industry: major areas of research.

Evidently, huge number of the researchers studied one of the most interesting area of social media management in hospital industry: the role of social media in the decision-making process of leisure and business travellers (Chan and Denizci Guillet, 2011; Li and Wang, 2011; Mathieu, 2013; Leung et al., 2013). Another interesting area is related to revealing needs and demands and decision-making process, which is forecasting demand in tourism and hospitality industry. Song and Li (2008) conducted a review of more than a hundred academic articles on the topic and suggested that none of the models for forecasting consistently performance better than others, hence models that include multiple approaches are the solution. In the view of this, Buhalis and Law (2008) notice that tourism management systems based on the analysis of information from online (i.e. online reviews, comments, share of experience) are far from perfect, while 'eTourism research' is far from being mature. Hence, there is a certain lack of academic research on which approaches to the analysis and management of social media can be effective in tourism and hospitality industry (Leung et al., 2011; Rosman and Stuhura, 2013).

Leung et al. (2013) summarise the major academic researchers on the topic of social media in tourism and hospitality industry (Figure 1).

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1. Major academic studies on the topic of social media in tourism and hospitality industry (Leung et al., 2013).

2.4. Social media and three main stages of trip

Euromonitor International (2011) suggests that social media management can be divided on three areas based on their usage by the premium and luxury and even mass travellers (Figure 2).

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 2. Three Stages in the management of SMM for luxury and premium hotels according to (Euromonitor International, 2011).

At least 85% of leisure travellers use Google Search and other search engines in planning their Trip; hence come the importance of search engine optimisation (Noone et al., 2011). During the planning of a travel trip, Xiang and Gretzel (2010) reveal that at least 10% of traffic from web search engines goes to social media content, and this share is increasing. Hence comes the increasing importance of the management of social media to influence customers on this critical stage of decision-making process, which should use different approaches and methods compared to general online advertising (ibid). Even luxury travellers pay high attention to decision-making in case of hotels as they are highly priced and are high involvement products. Hence come the necessity of collecting as much information about the product (including reviews of other customers) as possible (Jeng and Fesenmaier, 2002).

Word of mouth (WoM) can be regarded as one of the most important and credible source of information about the travel products (Murphy et al., 2007). User-generated content can be regarded almost as trustworthy as word-of-mouth from friends, since majority of customers believe that the reviews are generated by people without any commercial self-interest (Casaló et al., 2011). However many users are biased, while even small share of fake reviews may result in huge drop of credibility of the source (Varum et al., 2011). Customers perceive it as very trustworthy if they believe that it is a real experience written by real people, this is why reviews on TripAdvisor from reliable users are very credible, unlike reviews on the Facebook (Burgess et al., 2011). Yoo and Gretzel (2010) suggest that the issue of influence of trustworthiness of consumer-generated media on travel related social networks is very complex and requires further research.

Tussyadiah and Fesenmaier (2009) notice that social media are increasing their influence on destination awareness of the customers and thus on their process of selection of destination. McCarthy et al. (2010) go further and suggest that social media change the global customer preferences in the hospitality industry. Tussyadiah et al. (2011) summarise previous findings and conclude that UGC is now critical factor for choosing a particular destination and hotel.

The major reason for sharing the content about their trip experiences social networks during the trip is to “update friends and family on their whereabouts”, as Schoenfeld (2013) adduce the survey reports by TripAdvisor, largest global travel site.

Samiljan (2012) suggest that the best way to amplify the word of mouth effect is to engage customers during their vacation, by creating a number of social media-related promotions and by quick response to complaints or other comments on the specialised services (i.e. Foursquare/Swarm).

In Russia, FSU markets, the major reasons for sharing social media content is experience sharing and interaction with other users (Fotis et al., 2011). Global studies reveal the same reasons for global customers: sharing of life experience and social interaction (Pan et al., 2007). The major reasons for creating UGC on specialised services and general social network are “expected social benefits, hedonic benefits, and functional benefits” (Parra-López et al., 2011). It is also revealed that user's personality traits are related to the probability of writing a review and sharing travel-related UGC on social networks (Yoo and Gretzel, 2011).

2.5. Social media and luxury hotels

Parr (2014a) notices the global hotel luxury market is entering the new age, with “marketing top-tier hotels are using Twitter for concierge services, social geo-locating platforms to unlock free gifts, Facebook for customer service and YouTube to showcase unique properties.” The market players find the growing and responsive clients using the social web (Parr, 2014a).

This trend is fuelled by the Generation Y customers, those who were born in 1980s-2000s and who change the perception of luxury experience, it should be not only of high-quality but also “Instagramable”, visually appealing to generate the engagement on social networks (Brand Karma, 2013). Other generations are also changing their patterns of using social networks, with the lag after the younger generation (ibid).

Perkins (2014) notices that according to the 5th Luxury hotel benchmarking report surveyed the guests of 15 luxury and boutique hotels, the number of those who found a hotel from social media has increased from 0 to 1 percent in 2013, the tendency continued in the next year according to the 6th report by Larsen (Larsen, 2014). Another important point is that word of mouth recommendations result in almost quarter of all orders, similar to the repeat purchases and both two can be improved by social media specialists (Perkins, 2014). The ubiquity of social media led to the creation of “positions like Social Media Curator or Digital Marketing Manager” at major global luxury travel brands (Brand Karma, 2013). However, many luxury hotels do not have the well-defined answer on the question who is responsible for social media marketing; but the well-defined strategy here is preferable even for small luxury hotels (ibid). Fishnet Media (2015) also emphasises the importance of well-designed social networks pages with great search engine optimisation that should be seamlessly connected with the website pages that use clean and responsible design. Certain set of guideline for interaction via social networks would be also necessary even in the case of a small boutique hotel (Fishnet Media, 2015).

However, luxury hotels are not “leveraging social media platforms well" (Larsen, 2014). The luxury hotel benchmarking report says that still 49% of clients prefer reservation by phone, not online, while about 34% of the reservations are done through third party booking services and their management is crucial (Larsen, 2014). The review services are also crucial, as they are often credited as reliable as word-of-mouth of friends and relatives (BluSky Marketing, 2013). Generally, luxury hotels perform very well on websites providing reviews, notably TripAdvisor, however, luxury hotels should achieve scores close to 100%, most notable by addressing the negative reviews and reviews noticing any flaws in services (BluSky Marketing, 2013). The top global hotels review services for luxury hotels, according to Brand Karma (2013), are TripAdvisor, Ctrip, Hotels.com and Chinese Dian Ping (Figure 3).

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 3. The top hotels reviews sites for luxury hotels, according to Brand Karma (2013).

Juergens (2013) notices that social media promotion can be most effective if the product package the hotels offers is creative, visually appealing and “shareable,” hence it can be effective for boutique hotels with unique offerings. Kent (2012) suggest that social media can be particularly effective tool for the boutique hoteliers. He notices the words of David Lopez, general manager of THE OUT NYC, luxury boutique resort, who says that social media is very useful for branding activities and particularly for searching for niche travellers. THE OUT NYC uses the photos via Facebook and Instagram to illustrate their brand peculiarities, while growing number of guest reservations come from Facebook page and Twitter account (Kent, 2012).

Fishnet Media (2015) suggests that for boutique hotels, there might be not the best approach to use all the major platforms, instead using couple of the most popular among the target audience would be preferable. However, for large hotels and representatives of global brands Kent (2012), suggest that despite it is 'unrealistic' to tackle all the social platforms, luxury hotels should focus not only on Facebook and Instagram, but also on Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube and Flickr, at least “to avoid brand dilution or account squatting.”

The information about the needs and wants of customers provided by such social services as TripAdvisor, Facebook, and Pinterest, "millions of real opinions, photos, and videos" could be a "gold mine of data" for luxury hotels wishing to increase their sales and market share (Brand Karma, 2013). In addition, Brand Karma (2013) also suggest studying the experience of most brands in social media, notably those hold by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Ritz-Carlton and Hilton Worldwide.

2.6. Research Questions Stem from Literature Review

After the analysis of literature review, the following research questions (which might be challenging the existing literature) arise to support the research objectives:

- What is the difference between social media marketing and other online marketing activities, including search engine optimisation and search advertising used by Russian luxury hotels?
- What are the major third party booking and aggregator services used Russian luxury hotels and approach they use in their work?
- What social networks are in the focus of Russian luxury hotels?
- Who is responsible for social media marketing in Russian luxury hotels?
- What are the approaches to measuring the effectiveness of social media marketing Russian luxury hotels use?
- What is the profile of the customers who come from third party booking websites and online books services at social networks?

3. Methodology of research

The research is designed with the help of implementation of the “Research Onion” model developed by Saunders et al. (2009), and certain consideration will start from the outer circle of the model into the inside circle.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 4. Research onion. Source: Saunders and Tosey, 2012

3.1. Philosophy of research

It is evident that the world-view of the researcher concerning its research is the basis of how the methodology is designed to answer the research aim and objectives (Saunders and Tosey, 2012). Difference between those who want to reveal objective findings (such as issues in resource providing in the process of manufacturing) or those who want to reveal the feelings and opinions of the workers in this manufacture exist (ibid). In the view of this, it is evident that the research is focused on subjective feelings and collection of the data related to opinions of people, hence it cannot be regarded the one that is concerned with law-like generalisations and cannot be regarded as the one using positivism philosophy.

As it can be seen in the model, there is a separation on positivism and pragmatism philosophies, with realism and interepretevism being between them. Evidently, the majority of researchers in tourism and hospitality industry tend to adopt interpretivism philosophy (Chapman and Lovell, 2006; Balakrishnan et al., 2011). However, in this specific research, the pragmatism philosophy will be the basis, it tries to have a number of research and data collection techniques, both qualitative and quantitative, both primary and secondary, to analyse the data and try to offer the reliable and valid information that would have practical implications for luxury hotels in Russia.

3.2. Approach

This research implements an inductive method rather than a deductive method for its research approach. While deductive method use certain statement(s), or hypothesis to examine it (in new environment, for example), inductive reasoning is an opposite, it make generalisation from certain observations (Saunders et al., 2009). The research do not have any hypotheses about how Russian luxury hotels use the social media in their work, but it will try to find the answer on this question.

However, it can be suggested that the evidence from qualitative research would support much of the findings from secondary data, whereas there is a quantitative research (surveying) to support and supplement certain findings from qualitative research. Therefore, it also uses deductive research to a certain degree, making it more mixed one; hence, an abductive reasoning is the one that is used here. It is very useful when existing literature help to state certain hypotheses and then test it with the help of revealed primary data, which is the case of this research (Gold et al., 2011).

In attempting to discover a new idea, this research approach provides a pavement to revealing how a new issue for Russian hospitality industry, which is SMM, may be improved for the benefit of luxury hotel business. Finally, using this research approach can help the author enhance their scope of knowledge beyond some preconceived theories or hypotheses on this topic that were appeared after the comprehensive research on secondary data to further the ability to develop new insights about SMM of luxury businesses in Russia.

3.3. Methods, Data Collection

Different methods can be implemented when conducting research, such as experiments, surveys, case studies; they can be used in combination especially when using an abductive approach (Saunders et al. 2009). Hence, it will use the strategies of multiple case study and survey. The primary research tool that will be used for this study is interviewing, both unstructured and semi-structured, followed by a secondary research tool, which was surveying the customers. The belief is that these research tools were the ideal ways of gaining the insight and understanding that fulfils the research question and objectives. This is also supported by the analysis of the secondary data about the prominent cases of foreign luxury hotels who use well-defined SMM strategies.

Interviewing specialists and representatives of the hotels is semi-structured, hence there was a certain list of questions (related to the revealed issues as the result of literature review), but respondents were be asked to answer in as much details as possible and add their comments if necessary. According to Saunders et al. (2009: 315), dissimilar to unstructured interviews, semi-structured interviews are non-standardised, thus they have a certain level of consistency but they also offer flexibility, relying upon the interviewees’ responses and their interest in the topic. In addition, there can be a certain feedback to the question after they can answer them online (Gruber et al., 2008). However, there are certain potential issues with semi-structured online interviewing, most obvious is subjectivity of the respondents, another is the influence of the interviewer during the interview, however online interviewing and keeping the interview transcript can address the latter one (Gruber et al., 2008). Although, it should be noted that only some part of the interviews had transcripts, due to the number of reasons (see Appendix).

The second research tool that is used in this research is surveying, it focused on the attitudes, impressions, and opinions to be expressed in quantitative measurements (Saunders et al. 2009: 283). This added objectivity, reliability, validity and “extensionality” to the answer to the objective related to critical evaluation of social media implementation by Russian luxury hotels. However, here, the main issue is the design of surveying (e.g. poorly developed set of question). First, the researcher first consulted with interviewees (mostly experts) on how to develop the survey, and then considered how sampling can be improved taking into account limited resources. The surveying and interviewing was done online, via text (messages and email), but also through video chat services.

3.4. Sampling

Sampling is a complex issue in this research. For example, if taking the research population, there are two major areas. One is the number of experts and number of luxury hotels in Russia. Second is related to the number of 'top-experts' on the topic of SMM, their number may vary from 50 to 500 in Russia, according to the suggestions of Mitukhina (2014). The number of chosen experts is 3, which will help to overcome subjectivity but will not be regarded as overwhelming taking into account limited time and resources of the researcher. Moreover, one of the interviewee, who already agreed to participate in interviewing (Julia Trushina), is a renowned expert on SMM in hospitality and tourism industry of Russia, which is an expert area of this study. Another expert is Social Communications Specialist at Astra Media Group. Third expert is Timur Sarkisyan from Krisp Enso Creative Agency. On the other hand, the specialists who are the representatives of the hotels can also be regarded as the experts. There is a large list of interviewed representatives of Russian luxury hotels, including the following:

- Olga Shestakova (Balandin), Head of Sales, Hotel "Our Hotel", Moscow
- Tatiana Nosaeva, e-Commerce Manager at Kempinski Hotel, Moscow, St. Petersburg.
- Bystrov Oksana, Director of Sales at hotel "Aquamarine", Moscow

[...]

Details

Pages
66
Year
2015
ISBN (eBook)
9783668458833
ISBN (Book)
9783668458840
File size
3.7 MB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v365537
Institution / College
European Business School London / Regent's College
Grade
65
Tags
social media marketing russian luxury hotels before trip

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Title: Social Media Marketing by Russian Luxury Hotels. Before, during and after the Trip