Holiday Inn remains one of the most recognized multinationals in the world offering hospitality services. The company is a subsidiary of the British InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) that offers hotel services worldwide. According to statistics from the IHG, Holiday Inn serves over one hundred million customers annually while hosting delegates in presidential suites in the hotels distributed worldwide with over three thousand four hundred branches. Brazil is its latest venture including four other destinations, the US is no exception. Lately, the company realized that investment in the physical establishment of hotels might cost a lot of resources, especially when the consumer turnover is low as in the case of Rio De Janiero among its investment destinations. Competitors in the same industry including Quality Inn invest heavily in social media marketing since the physical establishment of motels and hotels worldwide is exceedingly expensive (Xiang and Tussyadiah 2014, p. 163). Social media marketing will reduce the costs of investment while increase revenue, instead of pitching marketing strategies in branches. Since its inception in 1952, the number of branches has been on the rise, from one to 1,400 in 1972, and currently 3,462 worldwide. Following an industry and organisational situational analysis, it is impossible to ignore the significance of effective and efficient modes of marketing in promoting growth.
Direct sales refer to face-to-face strategies of product promotion and distribution. In the recent past, companies largely depending on direct sales representatives who walk from one place to another to launch products or promote new services. Following the inception of the internet and social media among other virtual networks, it became easy for organisations to pitch advertising campaigns without movement from one place to another. Markedly, the hospitality sector takes advantage of the developed websites and social networks to meet clients and pitch campaigns virtually. Since Holiday Inn started to franchise, it found different avenues of meeting clients, especially through its involvement with Gulf Energy. It started supplying the energy company with foods at the convenient stores in the petrol stations to expand beyond the hospitality sector. In order to increase sales through direct marketing procedures, companies have to segment target consumers based on different demographics and psychographics (Xiang and Tussyadiah 2014, p. 169). Holiday Inn invests in distribution strategies that involve physical investment it target destinations. Today, companies form mergers with Amazon.com, Inc. in order to promote shipping. In addition, they establish links with Google, Yahoo, and Bing to enjoy presence on internet platforms. Therefore, firms can seek different online services through Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts managed by Holiday Inn. However, the company should extend beyond the platforms and embrace emerging social network technologies in order to capture the early adopters of innovations.
Influencing Food and Beverage direct sales through social channels
Real time communication
YouTube and Skype provide platforms for real time communication between people in distant places. Holiday Inn, the Hilton hotels, Hyatt, and hotels under IHG management offer free WI-FI services to customers. Such free and other value-added services publicise hotels, and introduce customers to the services offered by such establishments. Holiday Inn should not use such platforms for advertisement and publicity only. However, it should be an opportunity for communication between room service and customers as it happens through online bookings. In collaboration with online retailers such as Amazon, Aladdin and eBay, the company can manage inventories, orders, and customer services without physical meetings between employees of the company and the clients. Through the strategy, the company can reduce the number of employees while paying the qualified ones well to avoid defection to other firms. All branches including the ones at Gulf Energy should ensure that the virtual networks such as Facebook and Twitter accounts remain active for real time communication. Social media has many followers and fans; the company can take advantage of the same to segment the types of clients it targets with particular products and services. Incorporation of the global distribution systems (GDS) will assist the 3*, 4* and the 5* range of hotels to target different customers based on their profiles on the social networks (Xiang and Tussyadiah 2014, p. 150). Company databases have profiles for workers and customers, making it easy to identify their needs without conducting extensive and costly researches.
Online bookings and advertisements
When Oracle developed software for management of the hospitality sector, it became easy for hotels under the Oracle Hospitality Global Business Unit (OHGBU) to enjoy cloud connectivity services. Oracle refers to the connectivity technology as MICROS that provide fast and affordable internet technology (O’Fallon and Rutherford 2011, p. 240). In order to increase consumer attention in the products and services that Holiday Inn offers, the management should also provide a platform for understanding the company through an organisational profile. Instead of advertising job opportunities through other media, it should use social media, which are cost-effective, ubiquitous, and efficient (Xiang and Tussyadiah 2014, p. 152). Besides, customers have the opportunity to make bookings online while going through adverts on social media. Facebook and Twitter enjoy the greatest attention from people across the world. They provide a robust platform for advertising and consumer interaction with Holiday Inn and other companies. Xiang and Tussyadiah (2014, p. 173) observe that Holiday Inn should focus on new entrants including Instagram and Flickr because of the massive attention that they attract. However, LinkedIn and Twitter attracts high-end consumers who seek limited social media space to share ideas. The two social networks considered to take a professional outlook on social issues offer an excellent opportunity for Holiday Inn to meet target clients who would take interest in the range of services that it offers.
In most cases, outsourcing companies employ telesales experts in order to limit movement from one place to another. Holiday Inn does not invest heavily in telesales since the clients personally visit the outlets to enjoy the products and services offered. The food and beverage sector requires telesales approaches following an increase in the competitive forces. Arguably, Holiday Inn should use the social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn alongside real time channels such as Skype (Xiang and Tussyadiah 2014, p. 156). Real time communication promotes credibility because clients can easily have a preview of what to expect after paying for the services at the Holiday Inn outlets. Telesales incorporate advertising principles including involvement of celebrities; it reduces the amount of money the company would use in advertisements. Pictures of interesting destinations and YouTube videos of the same obviously increase the appeal, and probably can attract many customers in an affordable manner. Companies have profit generation interests when investing in such systems, but the long-term impacts of the same are equally important for establishing a competitive brand image (O’Fallon and Rutherford 2011, p. 238). In essence, telesales increase the presence of Holiday Inn, its products and other related organisations. When many people visit the Holiday Inn pages, other advertisers seek the same platform to advertise their products and services. For instance, a fashion company that advertises on the Facebook pages of Holiday Inn and attracts sales has to pay Holiday Inn for promoting its products and services.
The use of social media platforms to promote direct sales in the food and beverage sector is not a new concept. Its cost effectiveness and efficiency in service delivery remain very important, but companies must be very clear about their use of social media to maintain high privacy standards. Customers always need an assurance that companies cannot hack their social media accounts or interfere with their privacy in any way. Protection of the company database remains a responsibility of Holiday Inn and other companies seeking to take the social media approach to influence their direct sales. As such, investment in social media is a long term and affordable project for Holiday Inn. However, proper management of the accounts is a huge responsibility that could support growth or ruin the organisation in the future.
In review, each company strives to survive in a competitive environment. Start-ups can afford direct sales through physical movement from one place to another. Holiday Inn has many branches across the world. It would be illogical to introduce new products and services to different places physically. Social networks have the ability to penetrate even the remote places in order to inform consumers of the products and services offered by Holiday Inn. Noting that at least 59% of the entire population of enlightened people has social media accounts, the number can take great interest in the products and services offered by Holiday Inn because they can afford to acquire the information through the virtual networks.
O’Fallon, M. J and Rutherford, D. G 2011, Hotel management and operations, Wiley, New York.
Xiang, Z and Tussyadiah, I 2014, Information and Communication Technologies in Tourism 2014: Proceedings of the International Conference in Dublin, Ireland, Springer, London.