E-Marketing inHospitality Industry: Prospects and Challenges
Thecontinued increase in Internet use in our daily lives has led toessential the Internet being an essential tool in marketingcommunication. For purposes of gaining competitive advantage in theever-demanding hospitality market, it is crucial today that for thehotel business should have its Internet platform. For example, itswebsite, engage in advertisements and promotions for its productsthrough mobile applications and social networking sites, use e-mailsas a medium for communicating with its customers and businesspartners, and apply all ICT tools available. The tool needs toprovide all the relevant information for potential customers in oneparticular place at a time, from any part of the world. This can onlybe possible by having innovative ways of communicating and throughproper adaptations of business operations to a lot of demandingrequirements of the current tourist industry.
E-marketing concept does not have a single definition. A section ofshareholders emphasizes on the role of Internet in the e-marketingapplication while others perceive the whole concept, which includesthe application of various ICT solutions. Allen & Fjermestad(2001) considers the whole concept of e-marketing as part of movingproducts and services from tourists and producers while using theInternet as a way of sales channel and promotion.
Ryan & Jones (2011) describes e-marketing as the "applicationof electronic application and data for planning, management, andexecuting the concept, distribution, and pricing of goods, services,and investment of ideas to create a satisfaction in both theindividual and organizational goals." Additionally, one of themain purposes of e-marketing is to use the Internet and other formsof communications to communicate and reach out the target market in amore cost-effective way, while working jointly with the partnerswithin the hospitality industry on a common interest.
E-marketingProspects in the Hospitality Industry
There are prospects in existence that potentially places e-marketingat a point where it becomes easy for potential clients in thehospitality to identify and inquire for information about the righthotels and travel destinations of their choice. Some of the prospectsfor successful implementation of e-marketing include the growingmiddle class around the world, large unexplored market, growinginfluence, and rapid economic development in recent times.
Taking, for example, e-marketing application in The Milestone Hotelin the United Kingdom to facilitate its marketing operations, thehotel is faced with a challenge of ensuring this marketing tool worksand resonates well with its potential shareholders and clients. Forinstance, one of the prospects of e-marketing they would apply, forexample, the growth of affluence in the country and the world, thehotel in question will be forced to come up with an operational,organizational chart that would oversee smooth implementation ofe-marketing prospects.
Operational, organizational chart: According to Murthy (2008),"operational" represent the business structure, while"operational" describes how business gets things tofunction. However, the two descriptions are not critical to thesuccessful running of the business, but by establishing differentstrategic sense around the two: operational and organizational. Forexample, the marketing department may have to strategize in theirquest to reach out to the digital world through other options, whichin this case, include the use of e-marketing. For the success of suchprospective strategies, for instance, the e-marketing team in thesaid department will have to come up with an organizational chart,which clearly strategies on a long-term objective and organization ofthe e-marketing staff. Additionally, organizational chart ensurese-marketing work does not fall through the visible cracks and avoidchallenges for an ultimate guide. What the organizational chart doesis to create job descriptions for every part of the department.
Another prospect of e-marketing in the hospitality industry, andspecifically in a hotel, is the availability of inputs of cheapproducts. Most of the countries, for instance, are presented with theabundance of human and material resources, which are yet to beacquired and taken advantage of. In developing countries, forexample, there are untapped resources, large population, andfavorable conditions, which come in handy for the hospitalityindustry and the hotels, to be specific, to exploit.
For a hotel, more so in the marketing department, there are a lot offactors in the digital world, even in the less developed countries,that are currently considered as part of the prerequisite to applye-marketing strategies to rich out to potential customers. Forexample, Murthy (2008) mentioned the existence of a well-definedstrategy used at a company level, the presence of the marketingfunctions within the same company, marketing function in theoperational development, monitoring and implementation of e-marketingevidence, and the presence of customer relations.
Regarding creating an operational chart that handles e-marketingfunctions within the hospital industry, whether for targetingpotential customers or administering the operational procedures, thefunctions would require prospective manual and the proper guidelines(Allen & Fjermestad, 2001). When it comes to implementinge-marketing in the tourism-affiliated hotels, it is determined bysome factors. These factors include departmental owner skills,availability of resources within the business, competitive pressures,compatibility, ease of use, market trends, and cultural alignmenttowards the adoption of e-marketing.
E-marketingProspects on Marketing Job Description within the HospitalityIndustry
Job description regarding e-marketing is found in the marketingdepartment, and most preferably the marketing manager. The prospectsare revolving around this particular job, for example, in a hotel,involve numerous research studies carried out to determine theassumptions made about e-marketing (Cox & Koelzer, 2004). Todetermine the prospects are making up this job, some interviews werecarried out in the Milestone Hotel with its employees, frequentcustomers, and department supervisors about what e-marketing has doneto sell the hotel`s name in the industry. One of the research resultsfrom a section of employees within the department noted that thehotel has achieved an effective use of e-marketing.
Again, the interview indicated that the hotel`s marketing managerencourages the use of a range of ICT applications in their dailymarketing operations, especially in the market. From the interview,it was evident that another prospect that stood out for the hotel`suse of e-marketing application to advertise the hotel was due to theabsence of stiff marketing competition and enormous unexplored marketin the hospitality industry. One of the clients raised concerns aboutthe largely underused populations, but with limited use of theavailable services (Wearne & Baker, 2002). Following theemergence of e-marketing application of social networking sites andICT in recent years, the intensive competition has indicated by thehotel`s marketing department is as a result of less familiarity withusing the Internet.
The position of marketing manager in the hospitality is mandated atoverseeing the use of e-marketing tools as part of available prospectto reach out to potential customers. For instance, the use of DVDs,cable TV in hotel rooms, information decision support system, andpersonal digital assistant (PDA), according to what entails themarketing position, is till underused and average (Ryan & Jones,2011). Additionally, the use of ICT and Internet use as part ofe-marketing strategy in the hospitality industry triggers other usesof advertising to reach out to potential customers, with the jobdescription in the marketing department emphasizing on the use ofbooking systems for tourists` destinations and various searchengines.
This training program within the hospitality industry, more so inthe hotels, is targeted at solving emerging problems. It is evidentthat educated and well-informed individuals in the hospitalityindustry, for instance, about the use of the Internet and ICT ingeneral, tend to be successful investors and consumers alike. Thereason for this is imbibed with the tenets and culture of marketing.However, e-marketing training program, which according to Allen &Fjermestad (2001), is still low in most developed countries, aretargeted at ensuring the less known e-marketing tool among mostmanagers and policy makers occupying a various position in theindustry, are made aware.
This program, better known as e-marketing training program continuesto be implemented in the industry, especially those individuals withhigher degrees in the e-marketing field. What these individuals do tosolve this problem is by practicing the actual concept of e-marketingto boost the business` revenue through awareness. This program gainsrelevance when e-marketing fails to contribute to the meaningfuldevelopment of hospitality economies. Again, the e-marketing trainingprogram function through focusing on ensuring there is a minimalpreference on foreign products ((Cox & Koelzer, 2004). Thisprogram is accelerated to adopt a more accelerated development andindustrialization pace to boost the e-marketing tempo.
The training program also targets different avenues of e-marketing,for example, social media marketing, mobile advertising, and displayadvertising. Social media sites such as YouTube, Twitter, andFacebook, are used to spread an update or information quickly to awider audience. Choosing to share videos and telling it withimpacting visuals to accompany it constitute an essential tool, whichattracts the attention of potential customers about the product(Murthy, 2008). E-marketing training program, on these socialnetworking sites, engages in the training services for ease of use inthe implementation of the Web 2.0 products. In the hotel industry,for instance, such training program aims at transforming the businesschains in the industry by registering them on social media platformsto include user-generated content.
Again, several major hotels, for example, engage in an effectivee-marketing training program that has seen effective e-marketingimplementation. There is also the introduction of a differentquantitative tool, for example, the "Reputation ManagementIndex" (RMI), which provides integrally valuable data forcompetitive insights (Murthy, 2008). The e-marketing training programalso trains the marketing team within the Department for thesuccessful use of mobile advertising on the use of interface use,Google ads, and QR codes.
Challenges ofE-marketing in the Marketing Department
Marketing department in hotels is mandated at selling the brandthrough different tools of advertising and branding, includinge-marketing. E-marketing can be faced with some challenges, whichaccording to Ryan & Jones (2011), resonates across thehospitality industry. Within the marketing department of the hotel inquestion, one of the challenges is the inadequacy of properinfrastructure. The inadequate infrastructure is as a result of casesof accrued and burden of debt over time. In the hospitality industry,this invariability becomes hard for some of the businesses to providethe required infrastructure, which would either propel or engendersmooth scenario of e-marketing. The poor infrastructure also impactsnegatively on the smooth running of e-marketing campaign to drawinvestors and customers to the business.
Another problem of e-marketing use on the hotel`s marketingdepartment is the problem of integrity. The department will requirecarrying out a series of e-marketing campaign through a set programover the Internet. Here, they will end up employing several onlinechannels, which include e-mails, social media, Internet, and otherWeb 2.0 services, which according to Wearne & Baker (2002), lacksa comprehensive and harmonizing e-marketing set framework. Forexample, each particular e-marketing tool is used in isolation and isaccomplished as part of a different task considering it is not partof an integrated campaign, which should be aimed at realizingparticular and specified objectives.
Another challenge as a result of e-marketing facing the marketingdepartment in the hotel is a lack of face-to-face contact between thee-marketing campaign team and potential customers. E-marketing isfaced with this challenge due to the inability of the e-marketingteam in the department is the lack of face-to-face interaction withpotential clients. Wearne & Baker (2002) observed the Internettransactions do not involve an embodied personal involving, which isthe reason customers may fail to find e-marketing tools to beimpersonal and interactive. The customers may want to interactphysically with the marketing team, get to experience and socialize,and get their hands on the products before resolving to buy. Virtualmarketing, which includes the Internet, social media sites, ande-mails, fail to provide this interactive physical function ofpersonal interaction.
Another challenge that faces the hotel`s marketing department inalso faced with the challenge of lack of trust. This is in the partof potential customers, which includes customer perceptions on theability of the e-marketing tools to deliver on their expectations,whether to believe the information provided by the product and theconfidence about the products (Ryan & Jones, 2011). Despite therise in the growth of Internet marketing in recent times, most peopledo not trust most of the electronic methods of payment coupled withdoubts of purchasing items and whether they will be delivered to themor not. The marketing department in the hotel industry is faced withthis challenge, which remains a huge hurdle over building trust andconvincing the customers to trust this marketing tool.
Aseries of interviews with the hotel supervisors over the use ofe-marketing to reach out to a wider customer base showed that themarketing department struggles with the challenge of privacy andsecurity issues. In today`s world, Murthy (2008) noted thatcustomers` data during the inquiry about the products offered by thehotel business in question, can easily be shared with differentinstitutions without having to ask for permission. Of importance isthe important crucial data, for example, usernames and passwords thatare not protected from hackers. Again, there is the challenge ofpop-up ads and spas, which is considered by the majority of theonline customers, which acts as intrusive of privacy. E-marketing isnot immune to security and privacy challenges. Effective e-marketingthus depends on the relatedness of the problem.
E-marketing in hospitality industry places much emphasis on themarketing appeals and orientation of the target market for a specificinterest or behavior of potential customers, rather than targeting awider defined demographic (Cox & Koelzer, 2004). Both online andoffline marketers differentiate their target markets on specific aregroups, geography, gender, and other related factors. Additionally,of importance is that e-marketing marketing defers from other formsof advertising and branding like magazines, where the goal istargeted at appealing to the demographic project of a particularperiodical (Allen & Fjermestad, 2001). What is does is that theadvertiser has enough knowledge of the targeted audience, thosepeople engaging in particular activities so that the business rely onthe perception of customers on the products and services offered.
The prospects and challenges of e-marketing in hospitality industryrevolve around the level of awareness created. E-marketing, comparedto other forms of marketing, is that it is inexpensive. Hotelbusiness, for example, can reach to wider target customers comparedto other traditional advertising channels. The nature of e-marketingmediums allows the consumers to acquire the products and servicesthey require at their convenience. The hotel business has an addedadvantage of presenting customers with quality appeals towardsbringing results. The overall effectiveness and strategy ofe-marketing program campaign depending on the set business objectivesand goals of cost-effective analysis.
The paper identified the e-marketing prospects to include thegrowing awareness about e-marketing tool, which resonates well withthe target population, level of competition within the hospitalityindustry, emerging and growing affluence over the use of the Internetand social media platforms, and the rapid Internet development inrecent times. The paper also focused on the challenges of e-marketingin the hospitality industry, especially the hotel business. Thesechallenges include preferences of customers for other channels ofmarketing, inadequate infrastructure, security and privacy issues,lack of trust and integrity, and lack of face-to-face contact. Theseprospects and challenges are identified through the eyes of amarketing departmental perspective interviews carried out by thesupervisors within the department, and the e-marketing trainingprogram.
Allen, E. & Fjermestad, J. (2001) E-commerce marketingstrategies: an integrated framework and case analysis, LogisticsInformation Management, Vol. 14(1/2):14-23
Cox, B. G., & Koelzer, W. (2004). Internet marketing inhospitality. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Prentice Hall.
Murthy, E. K. (2008). Management of tourism & hospitalityindustry. Jaipur, India: ABD Publishers.
Ryan, D., & Jones, C. (2011). The best digital marketingcampaigns in the world: Mastering the art of customer engagement.London: Kogan Page.
Wearne, N., & Baker, K. (2002). Hospitality marketing in thee-commerce age. Frenchs Forest, N.S.W: Pearson Education.