The primary focus of this paper was to analyze a website in the hospitality industry in terms of how it presents its message to the clients, the relevance of its message to the target audience, and how it makes visitors make repeat visits. The chosen website was Hospitality Net. This website is purely dedicated to the hospitality industry. The content of its messages primarily targets the players in the hospitality industry and their clients.
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The website uses visual appeal as a way of attracting people visiting it for the first time. The use of colors, figures, and images creates a need among visitors to continue exploring the website. It has a wide range of topics and its content is not limited to North America. It is a global website. Navigating the website is so simple and clear. All that one needs to do is to choose the region of interest (Asia-Pacific, Caribbean, Europe, Central, and South America, Middle East and Africa, United States, and Canada). After choosing the desired region, one will have access to a wide range of topics. Based on the interest, one can easily choose the desired topic.
The content of this website has been designed based on various market segments. Segmentation was important given the wide variety of audience that is targeted by the website. The bases of segmentation mainly include age, gender, social class, and region. In each segment, the website has contents that suit their specific needs. The website has positioned itself as a one-stop-shop where visitors can get all the information they need about hospitality and related industries. Indeed, it may not be possible to get all the information that one may desire from this website, but it tries to ensure that it is as informative as possible.
A critical analysis of the website reveals that it is keen to influence the perception of its first visitors in several ways. The graphical appeals and the content of its blogs are all designed to be very convincing and very informative as a way of motivating the visitors to make repeat visits. The website offers important lessons to its viewers, especially industry executives in the hospitality industry. As a learning platform, it can attract regular visitors interested in understanding industry trends.
Consumers who visit the website are very likely to develop a positive attitude towards it if they were looking for information in the hospitality industry. They are likely to get information that addresses most of their questions unless what they are looking for is more specific. The ability to positively influence the attitude of the visitors makes it possible for the website to become popular among the target audience. It also increases the referent power of the website.
The analysis reveals that this website has strong expert power. It has a team of highly skilled and knowledgeable reporters who not only collects information from the field but also analyze it and presents it in a very informative manner. The expert power also increases its referent power as those who are pleased with its contents are likely to refer others to the website. The blog is one of the best websites in the hospitality industry. Its efficiency may be improved if its owners consider introducing emerging technologies as suggested in the recommendations.
Marketing is taking a whole new dimension in modern society, very different from what used to be the case some decades in the past. According to Reid and Bojanic, competition has become one of the strongest forces in the market that firms must learn how to deal with to remain relevant in the market (88). In almost every industry in the global market, there is often some form of competition that can be direct or indirect.
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Marketing concepts have emerged that seek to help firms understand how to manage this force. Societal Marketing Concept is one of the concepts which demands that companies should first understand what clients need in the market before coming up with a product that socially meets their needs. The emerging technologies have made it possible for marketing experts to communicate with players in various industries to help them understand the emerging market trends and deal with forces that may be destructive if ignored. In this paper, the researcher will critically analyze a marketing website known as Hospitality Net. The researcher will critically analyze how relevant this website is to players in the hospitality industry.
Description of Blog
Hospitality Net is a unique website that offers players in the hospitality industry trending information that is very useful in various ways. This website acts as a news blog that reports on the events taking place in the hospitality industry. Information such as the arrival of new firms into the local hospitality industry, changes in the top leadership of various companies in this industry, mergers, and acquisition, expansion plans of the major players, and the emergence of new trends are all covered in this blog.
The website has reporters who are specifically interested in issues relating to the hospitality industry. To the companies operating in this industry, the value of this website is so high. The website helps them monitor every single trend and changes in the industry. Through the website, they get to know how to prepare for the market changes and issues that need to be factored in when considering introducing changes in the operations of a firm.
Hospitality Net as a website is hosted by a group of marketing experts who have been working in the hospitality industry for a very long time. These marketers came together to find a way of improving the hospitality industry by always keeping the players informed about the emerging trends and forces in the market that may need to be addressed. They believe that in so doing, they can keep the industry in an innovative mode which will not just benefit the players but also clients who rely on these services regularly.
The website is not sponsored by any specific organization. Instead, it relies on the revenues generated from adverts that it carries on its blog. Given that it is not sponsored by any organization, it means that the blog is independent and can make authoritative reports without having to twist its messages in a way that is pleasant to one party but unfair to others. In most of its market reports, it is clear that the reporters maintained a high level of professionalism. Hospitality New is available at http://www.hospitalitynet.org/index.html.
Analysis of Blog
It is important to critically analyze this blog to understand its relevance in the field of marketing and specifically in the hospitality that it targets. In this section, the researcher will look at how well this website achieves the objectives to which it was established and how accurate it is in meeting the needs of its targeted audience. The following are the specific issues that will be considered in this analysis.
A website, just like any business entity, finds segmentation to be a very important tool needed to achieve its goals and objectives. In the field of blogging, there are numerous issues that one may focus on. They range from environmental issues, politics, economics, entertainment, education, military, wildlife, and marketing among others. In the field of marketing, there is also the need to segment the market even further to ensure that the objectives are narrowed in a way that it may be possible to accomplish them. In this case, the website has narrowed down to marketing in the hospitality industry.
The website has narrowly defined its intended audience as the players in the hospitality industry and clients who from time to time may need services offered in the hospitality industry. For the players in this industry, the website provides them with a perfect opportunity to understand the emerging market trends and forces, and how they can adjust their systems to meet the market expectations. They also enable the players to understand what other players are doing and how such activities may have an impact on the industry.
To the clients who need to purchase products offered in the hospitality industry, the website enables them to understand the varieties in the market and where to make their purchases. The website is particularly important for individuals who want to purchase services in hospitality in a new market. The website’s strategy ensures that it has several target markets sharing a common need. For the firms in this industry, they need this website to help them popularize their products in the market and to reach out to their customers.
For the clients in need of the services in this industry, this website offers them an opportunity to know what is available in the market, the options they can make and where they can purchase items that they need, especially when they are visiting a place for the first time and need some form of guidance.
After segmenting its targeted audience in terms of firms and clients, the website further segments the market audience (clients) in terms of gender, age, and social class. When packaging its information, gender segmentation is exhibited in terms of what fits male and female clients. Information for the two groups is designed separately. In terms of age, it is clear that the website targets young adults and middle-aged people as they are believed to be the most attractive market segment in this industry.
Most of the web content tries to reflect on how these two important market segments influence the trends in the hospitality industry. In terms of social class, the website targets the middle class and the rich. According to Oh and Pizam, culture is a very important base when looking at segmentation, especially in the hospitality industry (87). Issues such as religious practices and faith have a significant impact on the type of services that a client may purchase.
For instance, when targeting an Islamic audience, it is necessary to find what they value and what their religion forbids them from taking. In this website, it is clear that the primary audiences, in terms of culture, are those who have embraced the western culture. Although the website talks much about the need to understand market diversity, it is apparent that their main audiences targeted by its contents are people of western culture.
According to Nykiel, positioning is one of the most important strategies that a firm should embrace as it tries to take advantage of the existing market opportunities (24). Depending on how a firm positions itself in the market, it will find itself appealing to a certain segment of the market. Positioning should, therefore, be based on the market segment that a given firm has chosen. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs may be useful in understanding the appropriate market segment and subsequently how a firm should position itself in the market. The figure below shows the hierarchy of needs.
As shown in the figure above, at the bottom of the pyramid are physiological needs such as air, water, clothing, and shelter. Every human being strives to meet these needs to survive irrespective of their social class. Most of those who try to meet these needs are the poor. The second comes to the security needs which focus on issues such as quality of life, assurance of income, and protection of home (Fitzmaurice, Laird, and Ware 90).
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These are the lower-middle-class people who are just coming from poverty and have stable employment even if the salaries are low. Social needs come next and are often associated with the middle class. These are people who have enough income that can make them afford some form of luxury. The value issues such as acceptance, affection, love, and a sense of belonging. The ego comes as the second last stage towards the apex of the pyramid and is often associated with the rich.
These are people respected by their peers and have achieved independence and self-esteem (Morrison 58). At the final stage is self-actualization that Burkard also refers to as self-fulfillment (32). These are people who believe they have achieved their full potential and have nothing more to desire in this life.
Hospitality Net is very beneficial to the players in the hospitality industry in terms of helping them understand their target market. The content of this website is designed to meet the market needs of these players especially. From this website, these industry players can get to understand the changing tastes and preferences of customers in the market. They also get to know how to adapt to the emerging market forces more harmoniously.
Blogging has become so common that it becomes very difficult for a blogger to easily attract a targeted audience to his or her website. Although there are tools that one can use to direct traffic to a given website, making them spend some time on a given website is one of the biggest challenges in modern society that is full of information. According to Kusluvan, a blogger must find something that will motivate the clients to spend time on the website (71).
Motivation often depends on what the target audience needs. Extensive problem solving, limited problem solving, and routinized response behavior are the main types of problems that a firm may help its clients solve. In this website, extensive problem solving is the focus based on the content that it carries for each of its target audiences. The first target audiences are corporate leaders in the hospitality industry. The firm knows very well that these executives are often concerned about the changing environmental forces in this industry.
They always want to know what is new in the industry. Issues such as new market trends, the emergence of new competitors into the market, the exit of other competitors, expansion plans of their market rivals, and government regulations that may affect their operations are issues that are of great interest to them. As such, the authors of the contents of this website often go to the ground to uncover these issues and concisely present them. Once the executives know that this is a one-stop-shop for information from the field, they become interested in making regular visits to such websites.
Green marketing is an example of a motivational strategy that this website uses to attract its audience. Green marketing is a new concept that is emerging in the market. Through this website, these executives can understand this new concept without having to attend classes. A critical analysis of the website shows that it has not used id, ego, and superego as explained in the Freudian Theory. However, the authors of the content of this website are interested in appealing to individual clients interested in purchasing hospitality products by providing them with information to help them make purchasing decisions. The strategy has enabled the blog to resonate well with the consumers.
The consumer who visits this blog is motivated to spend more time because of the content of the blog. For every story that they carry, they often have another that is closely related to it, hence one may be tempted to continue reading other items related to the initial item that attracted them to the website. The website also allows for consumer engagement by allowing them to give comments about the contents of the website. The bloggers have made deliberate attempts to ensure that people are attracted to the website and can make repeat visits. For instance, it often posts what its investigative journalists are working on.
Visitors would be convinced to come back and read such stories. Given that the website allows its visitors to make their posts, the main motivating factor that will influence consumers to make their posting is the message they carry. They often encourage visitors to comment about the changes they believe are necessary to promote the growth of this industry.
According to Abbey, the perception that the audience has towards a website the first time they visit will determine whether or not they will be interested in making any other visit in the future (19). The website has used sensory marketing techniques by ensuring that it remains very appealing to the sensory receptors of the online visitors. Once someone gets into this website, the first impression that he or she gets is discoveries in the field of hospitality.
The website uses words, colors, design, and images to capture the attention of the visitors and to guide them to contents that may be relevant to them. Seeing the blog for the first time, one would judge it as a professional website that carries verifiable contents about the hospitality industry. One gets the impression that the authors are experienced reporters who take time to research and verify their data before making it available to the audience. Comparing it with other similar websites, this blog comes out as one that is accurate and precise in terms of presenting the information to the audience.
The attention of the audience is directed towards various aspects of the blog depending on the interests of the audience. For instance, for the audience interested in corporate issues, the website presents information that they will find relevant. For those who want to know what the industry has to offer, they are adequately covered. According to Hayes and Ninemeier, clients will always tune out of a given website if they find the content uninteresting (54).
This barrier has been eliminated in this website by understanding the audience and presenting an audience-specific message that is very engaging. The website addresses the aspect of self mainly from one front which is the emotional aspect. It successfully captures the emotional sense of the audience. This website is also taking advantage of the concept of co-branding. According to Abbey, “co-branding allows less attractive products to become more appealing when associated with popular products,” (66). The website often uses popular topics to help promote less popular topics.
Hospitality Net does not provide any direct incentive to those that visit its website. However, it does provide important lessons that can be very helpful to its audience. One of the most important areas of learning that any business entity needs to understand is the consumer decision-making process. Understanding this process enables business entities to know when it is appropriate to influence the decision of a client. The figure below shows the stages involved in the consumer decision-making process.
It starts with need recognition where one realizes that he or she lacks something. The consumer then moves to the next step of information search. At this stage, the focus will be to identify how a given need can be fulfilled. The information search will lead to the evaluation of alternatives. At this stage, the consumer will try to understand the options available when planning to make a purchase. The fourth stage is the purchase decision where consumer settles on one of the options available in the market.
The final stage is the post-purchase evaluation where the consumer will look at the benefits generated from an item that was purchased. Post-purchase dissonance may lead to a situation where the clients avoid making any repeat purchase because of the dissatisfaction.
The website provides these important facts to its visitors. Although Behavioral Learning Theories may be useful in explaining the learning process as presented in this website, Cognitive Learning Theory is more appropriate hence was given priority in this analysis. Cognitive Learning Theory, according to Beasley, “explains why the brain is the most incredible network of information processing and interpretation in the body as we learn things,” (112). The concepts of this theory and its mode of application are reflected in the contents of this website.
Attitude is one of the most important factors that define whether or not clients are likely to make repeat visits to a website after the initial visit. In many cases, the attitude is developed within the first few seconds of visiting a website. It is important to understand the function of attitude when defining consumer behavior in the online community. As Weinert says, the internet is full of information and people are often keen to understand contents that make sense to them and those that do not (78).
Once they are on a given website, issues such as graphics, color, and words will be the first factors to influence the attitude. Then the relevance of the website’s content in providing the information that the consumer needs come as a second factor. It is not easy to clearly state the attitude that consumers may develop because it may vary depending on the primary aim of the visitor. If the visitor was looking for something different from the website, then it is likely that they may not have a positive attitude towards the website because of the expected dissatisfaction arising from the failure to get what they desired.
For those who end up finding what they needed, then it is likely that they will develop a positive attitude towards the website and are likely to make repeat visits. This is so because the behavior of a consumer is often defined as the attitude that they developed the first time they get the services from a firm, which in this case is the website. Once developed, attitude will define consumer behavior. In this case, attitude will determine whether the online visitor will make future visits or not.
This website wields enormous power that can be defined from various perspectives. First, it has reward power. Baumann defines reward power as the capacity of a person, group of people or an organization to command authority over a given group of people because of the benefits that these people from such an entity (44). This power is expressed in the information that clients get from the website.
They benefit in the form of the knowledge that they get and updated information about trends in the market. The website also offers these visitors the opportunity to understand ways of dealing with these market forces. The second form of power that this website has is the informational power. Information in modern society is critical and firms are under pressure to always know about the environment in which they operate.
The website has information power because it has a team of reporters who are always on the ground to collect news and make reports as often as possible. Informational power enables this website to receive regular traffic of the players in the hospitality industry, especially those at the management level. Referent power may not be very strong in this website. At it is, it may not be possible to know how strong this power is at this firm, but other websites mention is indeed one of the best websites for marketers in the hospitality industry.
Such a fair rating by other websites is very important. Expert power is one of the strongest powers exercised by this firm. Most of its reporters and market analysts are individuals with experience in the field of marketing in the hospitality industry. Most of their content is full of insights that players in this industry find to be very relevant.
The issue of cultural diversity is also important when analyzing this website from a social perspective. According to Baldry and O’Halloran, the world increasingly becomes a global village where the geographic barriers are eliminated with the emergence of sophisticated means of transport and communication (43).
However, most blogs have failed to recognize this fact of a globalized society. Hospitality Net is very different because its content is not limited to the West. It covers issues affecting firms in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Pacific regions. The content, though it seems it targets the West, does not ignore issues happening in other parts of the world. This factor enhances the informative power of the website. Its visitors are assured that trends in other parts of the world will be adequately covered.
Culture and sub-culture
Culture and sub-culture also play a critical role when defining consumer behavior, especially in an online platform where there is no physical interaction between the seller and the consumer. Beliefs, knowledge, laws, morals, and customs all define how one would behave when planning to make an online purchase. The content of the website may define the cultural groups that may be appealing. When the audience feels that the content of a website goes against their cultural beliefs, then they are likely to avoid it. Hospitality Net website has avoided culturally sensitive content to ensure that it remains appealing to a wider cultural group.
The above analysis shows that Hospitality Net is one of the most effective websites in the hospitality industry that commands a lot of authority. The content that it carries is appropriate for its target audience. However, it is important to note that some issues may need to be addressed to make it a more effective website. The analysis reveals several challenges that if adequately addressed, the website can command authority beyond what it currently does. The following are the recommendations that should be considered.
- The website should introduce Live Chart software on its website so that it can interact directly with its audience on its website. This strategy will increase its reliability.
- The website should have a forum where players in the hospitality industry can engage in constructive discussions with their clients given its target audience.
Hospitality Net is one of the most reliable websites that brings together players in the hospitality industry and their clients from all over the world. The paper reveals that this website has been designed to meet the needs of two different categories of people. In the first category are the players in the hospitality industry.
They include top executives and marketing directors in the hospitality industry. The website provides them with important information about the emerging market trends and forces that should be natured to remain competitive in the market. The website also targets individual consumers who use services offered in the hospitality industry. From this website, they get to know what to expect in the market in terms of quality, pricing, and variety. Clients also get to understand the changing market forces and how they influence products available to them.
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