Accor Group is a reputable worldwide leader in hospitality services. During the recent years, the company was working hard on revamping its social media strategy, starting from proactive use of customer-oriented website to active engagement in digital event management. However, as the company is currently more focused on luxury and premium brand segment, it might require revising existing marketing strategy to consider lower price segments because of pandemic times. The report further outlines specific recommendations for strategic changes based on the situational analysis.
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Commercial activities in the hospitality industry should be supported by robust social media marketing plans that promote transparent image of the facility as the one that provides the best customer experience. Specifically, it is important for the hotel chains that operate worldwide and attempt to cover different price segments, from the luxury to economic ones. Accor S.A., a French multinational company, is an example of such organization. It currently hosts more than 5,000 hotels and resorts covering the scope of luxury, premium, midscale, and economy services across more than 100 countries, as well as provides digital hospitality and event organization (Accor, 2021).
However, with emerging lockdowns because of the pandemic, the organization might eventually seek for reconsidering its marketing strategies for hosting customers and the scope of services provided to ensure sustainable market presence.
Current Social Media Plan Overview
Accor S.A. practiced different social media strategies since 2015 to ensure feasible digital presence across the markets. The foundational idea chosen as a starting point was to rebrand the organizational title from Accor to Accor Hotels, targeting to emphasize not only providing high-quality services during the stay, but also the associated experience before and after the actual visit (Accor, 2021). Specifically, it was mentioned that the customer journey should consist of inspirational, dream, select, and preparation phases prior to the phase of stay, which eventually contributes to the place return choices (Seghal, 2016). The Accorhotels.com website was further designed to support the aforementioned strategy to ensure that social media networks allow leveraging customer acquisition and awareness on the services performed in various service segments.
Apart from the website, the hotel group actively promotes its presence on Twitter based on the idea of utilizing two complementary marketing philosophies. The first is based on the principle of using the most popular social network that allows sharing life moments through visual representations which capture immediate life experiences, emotions, and loyalty programs. The second mostly relates to the customer care process and addressing specific needs and requirements. It also relates to the major strategy of the company to communicate with its customers in more than 15 languages that are covered by the efforts of the social care team of employees (Seghal, 2016). The #EmojiSearch campaign is a bright example of how the aforementioned efforts were realized.
The recent efforts of Accor S.A. were majorly oriented to narrowing down operations and extending services associated with exclusivity and the asset-light strategy. The extended stay segment was particularly explored through the number of restaurants and nightlife venue acquisitions, as well as continuous negotiations with Ennismore (Accor, 2021). The new brands and solutions are expected to be offered, while it is questionable whether it will be beneficial in post-pandemic periods and how the segments other than luxury and premium will be further promoted to the public.
Considering that the current year is unlikely to bring the uniform improvement in terms of revenues, Accor should consider focusing on the midscale and economy segments promotion for the extended stay and resort services. It is important to anticipate that business travel through premium services is likely to decrease because of the budget cuts; hence, social media strategy will be mostly concentrated on tourism and designated premium proposals (Zenker and Kock, 2020). Considerably, Accor should look for a better balance of managing its segments depending on the destination management requirements as well as future outlook for the travel preferences based on the specific locations.
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Goals for Improvement
Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and tangible (SMART) goals is an objective setting approach used to assist marketing executive to develop, track, and review long-term plans. The following SMART goals were defined to achieve the intended improvements:
- To adjust the content published on Twitter so that social media attraction increases the number of visitors interested in midscale and economy segments by 15% during the first half of 2021;
- To increase the inflow of customer feedback collected from Instagram in midscale and economy segment product marketing activities by 10% during the first half of 2021;
- To maintain tailored retention strategies through existing social media search campaigns which allow maintaining reputation for luxury and premium segments with a maximum attrition of 5% during the first half of 2021 considering pandemic restrictions.
Key Target Markets and Segments
The key target market considered for the short-term strategy deployment are tourism locations. It is explained by the fact that current lockdowns and travel limitations will create a surplus of inquiries for both cheap and luxury vacations given the limited opportunity to access those during 2020. Hence, it is worth considering that Accor should enhance its operations in Middle East and Africa when targeting visitors from Europe and North America.
Meanwhile, it should also keep targeting Europe as a place with revitalized interest from the Asian tourists. For the segmentation purposes, the long-term perspective should be considered given the perceived experience of COVID-19 and overall social confrontation of contacting people who are not vaccinated. However, such forecasts are not yet justified and should be validated against the new healthcare measures provided by the World Health Organization.
The Use of Social Media Marketing Channels
Considering the different scope of services and customer profiling across the world, Accor is first advised to organize social media channeling in three groups operating on global, regional, and local level. For the local level, the hotel group might consider using traditional and most popular channels such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. However, for the regional level it might seek for the more specific interest of local users to smaller social networks such as Qzone and WeChat in China (Hartshorne, 2019).
Finally, for the local engagement, microsites available at different languages spoken in the country should be used, further feeding the user traffic from there to the main content analytics system (Costello and Reczek, 2020). It is also worth considering that despite its market coverage, LinkedIn might not bring major advantage for the strategy since one is mostly used for the benefits of B2B marketers.
Another consideration is that Accor should seek for direct customer engagement by using mobile content for generating interactive and user-generated content. For instance, for the midscale and economy services, the company might want to make a broader focus on using TripAdvisor and Booking.com to promote special offers based on the customer reviews (Litwin and Dowling, 2018). Specific customer centricity is also required to address demographic factors for channeling process, since some social networks such as Pinterest are more actively used by females than males (Kim, Kim and Kim, 2018). Finally, Accor group could take an advantage of using influencer programs on its digital and live events in luxury and premium segments, where future customers might hear from the past visitor experience through human touch.
Justification of Choice for Activities
Overall, the choice of the proposed elements of the marketing plan is explained by the need of simultaneously addressing multiple business segments based on the anticipated risks for the most developed ones. For instance, having a regional channeling strategy allows marking an overarching decision about how successful the channel for the business is. However, regional and local plans enhance market sensing in specific areas and promote closer communication and feedback generation with various customer types across the world (Ponnapureddy, et al., 2017).
Similarly, gender-specific communications are required for indirect marketing through hooking the interest of females further retranslated to males or vice versa. Finally, the use of centralized system for traffic and content analysis is self-explanatory considering the size of the business and the need of effective local and regional activity management.
There are specific measurement strategies that could be considered for the proposed activity types. For the distribution of social media channel groups, the conversion rates from webpage visits, tweet reads, or image clicking to the consequent number of visits on each level could be considered (Haenlein et al., 2020). The effectiveness of the microsites could be measured by the number of redirects to the main booking systems before the visit and the frequency of mentioning the channel in survey conducted among actual visitors.
The same surveys could be used to match the gender of visitors to the initial source of hotel information gathering. The information from TripAdvisor, Booking.com, and related recommendation networks is best estimated through customer reviews by keywords and scores. Finally, the effectiveness of influencer campaign should be estimated both through the physical and digital number of event visitors, as well as influencer rating change before and after event.
Accor (2021) Overview of the group. Web.
Costello, J.P. and Reczek, R.W. (2020) ‘Providers versus platforms: marketing communications in the sharing economy’, Journal of Marketing, 84(6), pp. 22-38. Web.
Haenlein, M., et al. (2020) ‘Navigating the new era of influencer marketing: how to be successful on Instagram, TikTok, & Co.’, California Management Review, 63(1), pp. 5-25. Web.
Hartshorme, D. (2019) The best social media channels for your brand’s marketing goals. Web.
Kim, J., Kim, P.B and Kim, J.-E. (2018) ‘Impacts of temporal and gender difference on hotel selection process’, Journal of Hospitality Marketing & Management, 27(6), pp. 711-732. Web.
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Litwin, S.W. and Dowling, K.M. (2018) ‘TripAdvisor and hotel consumer brand loyalty’, Current Issues in Tourism, 21(8), pp. 842-846. Web.
Ponnapureddy S., et al. (2017) ‘The influence of trust perceptions on German tourists’ intention to book a sustainable hotel: a new approach to analysing marketing information’, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 25(7), pp. 970-988. Web.
Seghal, D. (2016) [Interview] How Accor hotels’ nailed emoji marketing on Twitter with their #EmojiSearch campaign. Web.
Zenker, S. and Kock, F. (2020) ‘The coronavirus pandemic – a critical discussion of a tourism research agenda’, Tourism Management, 81, 104164. Web.