Dissertation - Gabriella Farrugia

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  • The impact of social media on the lodging

    performance of five star hotels in Malta

    Gabriella Farrugia

    A long essay submitted in part fulfillment of the requirements of the Degree of

    Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Tourism Studies.

    INSTITUTE FOR TOURISM, TRAVEL & CULTURE

    May 2015

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    Abstract

    Although social media is being widely used in Malta, research on a national level is still

    very limited. On an international level this is not the case where in the past few years

    social media was subject for many research, including studies and books which focus on

    the use of social media in the hotel industry.

    All five star hotels in Malta are active on social media and nine hotels interviewed while

    conducting this research expressed the importance of social media within their hotel,

    claiming that it provides the possibility for two way communication with both existing and

    potential customers, which is not possible with most traditional media. Though is this

    reflected in their practices? And is the investment resulting into actual returns? Therefore

    this study seeks to discover how five star hotels in Malta are using social media and

    whether they managed to measure their social media success. The researcher goes a step

    further and tries to discover the effectiveness of five star hotel social media presence in

    Malta.

    This was completed by using a mixed method approach, meaning that both qualitative and

    quantitative research methods were used. In-depth interviews were carried out with hotel

    managers responsible for social media, while questionnaires were distributed to guests who

    have both stayed in a five star hotel in Malta. Since the researcher researched both ends,

    that is the consumer side and the producer side, some contradicting findings were revealed.

    Some of which question choices being done by five star hotels when using social media,

    which raise various opportunities for future research.

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    Acknowledgements

    To begin with Id like to start by thanking my tutor Mr. Simon Caruana who has guided me

    and encouraged me throughout this research, with great eagerness and patience. Obviously,

    I show great appreciation towards the people who spared their valuable time and

    contributed towards the compilation of all necessary data, which without this paper would

    not have been completed.

    Finally, I dedicate this long essay to my parents who have supported me throughout these

    three years, my dear class friends who have made these three years worthwhile and my

    sister who I admire so much for her career achievements.

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    Table of Contents

    ABSTRACT III

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS V

    TABLE OF CONTENTS VI

    LIST OF FIGURES VIII

    LIST OF TABLES IX

    LIST OF APPENDICES X

    1. INTRODUCTION 1

    1.1 SOCIAL MEDIA USE IN THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY 1

    1.2 PROBLEM DISCUSSION 2

    1.3 THE AIM AND OBJECTIVES OF THE RESEARCH 3

    2 LITERATURE REVIEW 4

    2.1. INTRODUCTION 4

    2.2. DEFINING SOCIAL MEDIA 4

    2.2.1. ORIGIN OF SOCIAL MEDIA 4

    2.2.2. DEFINITIONS 7

    2.3 HOTELS AND SOCIAL MEDIA 10

    2.4 SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGIES 12

    2.5 SOCIAL MEDIA IN FIVE STAR HOTELS 14

    2.6 EXITING SOCIAL MEDIA STUDIES ABOUT MALTA 15

    2.7 CONCLUSION 18

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    3 METHODOLOGY 20

    3.1 SECONDARY RESEARCH 20

    3.2 PRIMARY RESEARCH 21

    3.2.1. CHOICE OF RESEARCH METHODS 21

    3.1.1 INTERVIEWS 21

    3.2.3 SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRES 23

    3.2.4 SAMPLE FOR SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRES 23

    3.3 DATA ANALYSIS 25

    3.4 LIMITATIONS 25

    3.5 ETHICAL CONSIDERATION 26

    4 DATA ANALYSIS 27

    4.1 INTERVIEWS 27

    4.1.1 THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN FIVE STAR HOTELS 28

    4.1.2 SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY IN FIVE STAR HOTELS 33

    4.1.3 THE RETURN OF INVESTMENT FROM SOCIAL MEDIA 35

    4.1.4 THE IMPACT OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON THE LODGING PERFORMANCE OF FIVE STAR HOTELS

    IN MALTA 36

    4.2 SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRES 38

    4.2.1 DEMOGRAPHICS 39

    4.4 COMPARISON OF SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRES WITH INTERVIEWS 45

    5 CONCLUSION & RECOMMENDATIONS 48

    5.1 CONCLUSION 48

    5.2 RECOMMENDATIONS 49

    5.2.1 EMPLOYEE PARTICIPATION 49

    5.2.2 TRAINING IN THE STRATEGIC USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA 50

    5.2.3 USING THE RIGHT PLATFORM FOR YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE 51

    5.3 FUTURE RESEARCH DIRECTIONS 52

    6 REFERENCES 53

    7 APPENDICES 58

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    List of Figures

    FIGURE 2.1: SENSE OF WEB 2.0 BY EXAMPLES ___________________________________ 6

    FIGURE 4.2: WORD CLOUD ABOUT THE MAIN REASONS WHY HOTELS STARTED USING SOCIAL

    MEDIA_______________________________________________________________ 6

    FIGURE 4.3: IN-HOUSE OR USING THE SERVICES OF A MARKETING AGENCY _____________ 6

    FIGURE 4.4: WAS IT POSSIBLE TO CORRELATE THE HOTEL'S OCCUPANCY RATE TO THE

    HOTEL'S PRESENCE ON SOCIAL MEDIA? ______________________________________ 6

    FIGURE 4.5: AGE OF RESPONDENTS ___________________________________________ 6

    FIGURE 4.6: NATIONALITIES _________________________________________________ 6

    FIGURE 4.8: LEADING SOCIAL NETWORKS WORLDWIDE AS OF MARCH 2015 ____________ 6

    FIGURE 4.7: WHICH SOCIAL MEDIA DO YOU USE? _________________________________ 6

    FIGURE 4.9: WHEN CHOOSING A HOTEL HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR THAT IT USES SOCIAL

    MEDIA? ______________________________________________________________ 6

    FIGURE 4.10: DID YOU EVER COMMUNICATE WITH A HOTEL USING SOCIAL MEDIA? _______ 6

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    List of Tables

    TABLE 4.1: SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS USED BY FIVE STAR HOTELS IN MALTA __________ 6

    TABLE 4.2: NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES WITH ADMINISTRATOR RIGHTS FOR THE HOTELS' SOCIAL

    MEDIA ACCOUNTS ______________________________________________________ 6

    TABLE 4.3: AGE OF RESPONDENTS ____________________________________________ 6

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    List of Appendices

    APPENDIX 1: PILOT INTERVIEW QUESTIONS ____________________________________ 6

    APPENDIX 2: INTERVIEW QUESTIONS __________________________________________ 6

    APPENDIX 3: PILOT SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRES __________________________________ 6

    APPENDIX 4: SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRES _______________________________________ 6

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    CHAPTER ONE

    1. Introduction

    The following study seeks to explore two areas, the first takes form of an analysis of the use

    of social media in five star hotels in Malta and the second part seeks to find a link between

    the social media presence of five star hotels in Malta to the lodging performance. In this

    first chapter one will find; an introduction to the subject matter, through which the reader

    will understand what the researcher is implying when using the word social media and will

    be able to get a better grasp of the study. Finally this chapter will also include the problem

    being tackled through this research and the aim and objectives of the study.

    1.1 Social Media use in the Hospitality Industry

    Qualman (2010), describes the social media development as follows;

    From Main Street to Wall Street and from school rooms to board rooms

    The use of the above metaphor is very on point; Qualman is explaining how social media

    moved up From Main Street which is a metaphor used to describe an economy made up

    of local businesses which aims to create livelihoods. To Wall Street which is

    characterized by very large global corporations with the main aim of making a lot of

    profits. The second part of the sentence moves on to describe the movement of social media

    from its use in our personal lives into the way we do business. Social Media is defined by

    Jones (2009) as;

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    A category of online media where people are talking, participating, sharing, networking

    and bookmarking online. Social media has been defined by various researchers and expert,

    though this will be discussed in more detail in the Literature Review chapter.

    This social media evolution has strongly impacted the hospitality industry and social media

    is becoming increasingly important, according to Pan and Crotts (2012) this happened due

    to the nature of tourism products which are mostly composed of intangible elements and

    based on experiences. In addition, technology today is gradually becoming more reachable

    particularly to the average traveler, thus enabling them to contribute information online.

    This development which happened over a short period of time and is ongoing is why social

    media is referred to as a phenomenon which gave rise to countless amounts of studies,

    including this one. This study focuses on the use of social media in five star hotel in Malta,

    moreover