Social media and the luxury traveller


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Social media and the luxury traveller

  1. 1. The Luxury Traveller & Social Media 2013: The Americas
  2. 2. 3 ILTMTheLuxuryTraveller&SocialMedia2013 TheLuxuryTraveller&SocialMedia2013 Social media is ubiquitous today. It’s no secret that luxury travel marketers devote an increasing amount of time to listening and responding to the endless stream of digital content that is posted 24/7. The photos, videos, reviews, tweets, pins, and blogs have led to the creation of new positions like Social Media Curator or Digital Marketing Manager at many luxury travel brands around the world. But what does this content actually tell us? What can we learn about the future of luxury travel? Thanks to the digital age and people’s natural desire to share their experiences, social travel sites like TripAdvisor, Facebook, and Pinterest have successfully collected millions of real opinions, photos, and videos — a gold mine of data waiting to be used, containing fascinating trends. The trends make up a story, and the story was too good to keep to ourselves. That’s why we created The Luxury Traveller & Social Media: a collection of unique insights into the experiences that luxury travellers seek and share online. 04 06 08 12 14 15 16 18 19 20 21 22 23 With a specific focus on the Americas, we interpret the collective voice of luxury travellers across the region. By analysing their opinions about 2,000+ leading hotels around the world, we discover the preferences and behaviours of current and future generations of luxury travellers, and explain key changes across the global luxury travel landscape. All insights were drawn exclusively from Brand Karma’s research on social media postings left by luxury travellers both in the Americas and globally. There’s a saying, “What goes around comes around.” That’s karma, and nowadays in luxury travel, your brand’s karma is the currency that defines the past, present, and future of your business. On behalf of Brand Karma and ILTM, we wish you a successful ILTM Americas with hopes that the insights from this report will guide your brand on its journey into the future. KEY FINDINGS Luxury Travel Hotspots: Moving Southward & Eastward Look Who’s Talking: Online Reviews & Social Media by Geography The Guest Experience: Delights & Disappointments Comparing The North and Latin American Luxury Traveller Key Trends: Globally & Within The Americas Luxury Hotels: Top Performers case study: Social Media Crisis Management case study: How Luxury Travel Advisors Succeed in Social Media case study: HotelUrbano & the World of Online Travel in Brazil methodology about brand karma About International Luxury Travel Market 2brandkarma Introduction & Background table of contents
  3. 3. 5 ILTMTheLuxuryTraveller&SocialMedia2013 TheLuxuryTraveller&SocialMedia2013 Millennials are redefining luxury as “Instagram-able” experiences Social media has changed the ways in which brands and people interact, but more importantly, Millennials – the generation responsible for the growth of social media in record time – exhibit consumer behaviour patterns that are different from previous generations. Millennials, or young adults born between the early 1980s to the early 2000s, have already changed the ways we communicate. They are now changing the ways we make purchase decisions. The ability to share an experience instantly via photos and videos has become an important requirement for the largest generation ever. As Millennials become older and more affluent, they will not only seek experiences that are “Instagram- able” but also define their ideal luxury experience as one that is so unique and visual that it is guaranteed to generate buzz amongst their social network. Luxury hotspots are shifting southward and eastward Luxury hotspots are moving farther into the southern and eastern hemispheres. While longstanding luxury hotspots like Paris or Las Vegas are still attracting travellers, newer and trendier destinations such as Abu Dhabi, Da Nang, and Lima are attracting more attention, as indicated by sharp increases in luxury social postings. Traditional luxury hotspots need to stay top-of-mind in order to remain attractive to guests. What defines excellence? 5K+ Facebook Likes, 4.5+ TripAdvisor ratings, and a rich media presence Individual hotels often ask for success metrics in social media. While there isn’t a set equation, nearly all luxury hotels at the top of our rankings have at least 5,000 TripAdvisor dominates luxury hotel reviews, but Chinese sites are gaining fast TripAdvisor continues to be the largest review site for luxury hotels: it produces 60.7% of all reviews on luxury hotels within the Americas and 53.1% of all reviews on luxury hotels globally. However, the sector is changing rapidly. Several major Chinese booking and review web sites like Ctrip now encompass over 15% of all reviews on luxury hotels globally. While the Chinese sites’ share of hotel reviews in the Americas remains low, consider that China is now the largest outbound tourism market globally, and we can expect these sites to continue to gain influence as the world becomes smaller and more connected. Latin American hotels lag in photo and video content While North American hotels have largely embraced mainstream rich media sites like YouTube and Pinterest, Latin American hotels have not. Instead, many Latin American luxury hotels are absent from these sites. However, the focus is beginning to shift toward photo and video-oriented apps like Vine and Instagram Video, which are consistently driving high engagement rates with consumers. These apps are mobile by definition and present a unique opportunity for Latin American hotels to catch up, by creatively displaying their amazing properties and destinations online. Facebook Likes, a TripAdvisor average rating of at least 4.5, and a strong early presence on one of the major photo or video sites like Instagram, YouTube, or Pinterest. In the second half of 2013, these are the new minimum bars for a luxury hotel to have an effective social media presence. Latin America’s rapid growth in digital penetration provides huge opportunities With social media now a mainstream communication channel for both consumers and brands in North America, the landscape continues to evolve in Latin America, where there are a number of fascinating opportunities: • In 2013, there will be 278 million Internet users across Latin America, surpassing for the first time the number of Internet users in both North America and Europe. • Approximately one-third of Internet users in some of the largest Latin American countries used online travel sites in June 2012. • Consumers from five Latin American countries are among the most engaged social networking users globally. Argentina leads with 10.7 hours per month spent on social networking sites, followed by Chile (9.5 hours per visitor), Peru (8.7 hours), Colombia (7.6 hours) and Mexico (7.1 hours). Increases in social guest satisfaction levels across the Americas Between January 2011 and June 2013, social postings by North American luxury travellers increased 130%, while social postings by Latin American luxury travellers increased 304%. What is more interesting, however, is that satisfaction levels among these travellers also steadily increased. Brand Karma’s Social Satisfaction metric saw an increase of 43% among travellers posting in Portuguese, an increase of 14% among travellers posting in Spanish, and an increase of 4% among travellers posting in English. Key differences exist between the North American and Latin American luxury traveller Social media written by luxury travellers accentuates key differences between North American and Latin American travellers. North American travellers seek experiential travel, placing higher value on helpfulness, empathetic service, and stunning property aesthetics; Latin American travellers prioritise the functional product, namely an amazing room product and top-notch restaurants. Moreover, North Americans are more verbose – their hotel reviews were nearly double the length of their Latin American counterparts. Plus, North Americans posted most often on Mondays, while Latin Americans posted most often on Tuesdays. The one commonality? Facebook and TripAdvisor are top social travel sites for both demographics. 4brandkarma Key Findings 1 eMarketer, Online Travel Sales Explode in Latin America, November 2012 2 Comscore, Futuro Digital - Mexico 2012 3 Comscore, 2012 Latin America Digital Future in Focus
  4. 4. 7 ILTMTheLuxuryTraveller&SocialMedia2013 TheLuxuryTraveller&SocialMedia2013 In the social media world, luxury travel hotspots are cities or destinations with an above-average quantity of luxury hotel reviews. The map to the right illustrates the luxury hotspots of today and tomorrow. Existing hotspots are based on the number of luxury hotel reviews within a destination since 2011; upcoming hotspots exhibit the highest growth rate in luxury hotel reviews year-over-year. The big take-away point? Luxury travel is transitioning eastward and southward into the emerging and high-growth markets, particularly the Middle East, APAC, and Latin American regions. Within the Americas, we see luxury hotspots emerging in Latin America with momentum in cities like Lima and Caracas. This of course has significant implications for luxury hotel developers and travel advisors who are responsible for spotting these emerging destinations before anyone else. 6brandkarma Luxury Travel Hotspots: Moving Southward & Eastward
  5. 5. 9 ILTMTheLuxuryTraveller&SocialMedia2013 TheLuxuryTraveller&SocialMedia2013 Brand Karma’s research finds that the social media health of a luxury travel brand is best indicated by the positivity and share- of-voice it attracts from two major sources: online review sites like TripAdvisor and social networking sites like Facebook. By referring to the maps to the right, we see that the North Americans and Europeans are the indisputable leaders in writing luxury hotel reviews, respectively comprising 47% and 27% of all luxury hotel reviews globally. But keep in mind that the number for Europe is mostly coming from British reviewers, who account for almost 20% of all the reviews in the sample. Asia and Oceania trail far behind at around 10% each, whereas Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa merely account for a combined 6%. What does this suggest? For one, North Americans are heavily invested in their reviews – enough to compose reviews and enough, in turn, to use them toward their travels. Second, it suggests that North Americans maintain a certain level of expectations toward their holidays; in other words, they have opinions and experiences that they feel committed to sharing after their trip has ended. This finding will be further explored throughout this report. Turning to social networking sites, the landscape changes. The average number of Facebook Likes for a luxury hotel is highest in the Middle East with 12,062 Likes, followed by a relatively similar number of Likes across all other regions. The exception is Europe, which comes last at approximately 3,244 Likes. The conclusion is that while the North Americans and Europeans lead in luxury hotel reviews, it is the emerging markets that lead in engagement on Facebook and other social networks. It should come as no surprise that global social media giants such as Facebook and LinkedIn continue to hold the top spots in LATAM for social networking sites. However, if your remove these giants from the rankings, image-heavy sharing sites emerge to take the lead: Pinterest (#2), Tumblr (#4), and Weheartit (#5) all number in the top five. The list is rounded out by (#1) and Scribd (#3). Of those, Weheartit is the only purely Latin American site; it saw a 43% growth in 2012. In North America, the expected leaders triumph. The top three sites are Facebook, Blogger, and Twitter for user base, time spent on site, and unique visitors. It is interesting to note the rise of Pinterest, which ranked number 2 for Latin America’s most popular social sites; its prominence is mirrored in North America by its largest year-over-year increase in both unique audience and time spent. 8brandkarma Look Who’s Talking: Online Reviews & Social Media by Geography TOP: Luxury Hotel Reviews: Percent Breakdown by Author’s Country of Origin (July 2011-June 2013) BOTTOM: Luxury Hotel Facebook Likes: Average by Region (June 2013)
  6. 6. 11 ILTMTheLuxuryTraveller&SocialMedia2013 TheLuxuryTraveller&SocialMedia2013 Looking more closely at hotel review sites, we find several important distinctions between luxury and non-luxury hotels, as well as between global luxury hotels and luxury hotels within the Americas: • TripAdvisor holds a greater share of reviews for luxury hotels (53.1%) than for non-luxury hotels (39.2%). This difference is even more pronounced in the Americas, where TripAdvisor comprises 60.7% of all luxury hotel reviews. • Chinese booking and review sites Ctrip, Qunar, and Dian Ping are all steadily gaining shares of luxury hotel reviews globally. While these sites remain small within the Americas, we predict they will become more influential in this region within the next 18 months. • For hotels within the Americas, Hotels. com, Expedia and Orbitz remain important channels for online reviews. The table below compares the Average TripAdvisor rating for luxury hotels worldwide, in North America, and in Latin America. Top Hotel Review Sites: Global Luxury Hotels vs. Americas Luxury Hotels Top Hotel Review Sites: Luxury vs. Non-Luxury Hotels (Global) 10brandkarma Region Average TripAdvisor Rating Luxury Hotels: Worldwide 4.74 Luxury Hotels: North America 4.35 Luxury Hotels: LATAM 4.50 TripAdvisor TripAdvisor Global Luxury Hotels Luxury HotelsAmericas Luxury Hotels Non-Luxury Hotels 0.0% 10.0% 20.0% 30.0% 40.0% 50.0% 60.0% 0.0% 10.0% 20.0% 30.0% 40.0% 50.0% 60.0% 53.1% 53.1% 4.0% 7.0% 60.7% 39.2% 10.2% 5.5% 3.2% 4.8% 9.4% 6.3% 1.6% 3.2% 4.8% 2.9% 1.0% 2.9% 0.6% 4.0% 0.2% 5.2% 5.5% 5.8% 4.9% 4.1% 4.6% 1.4% 2.2% 10.2% 0.8% 0.7% 28.4% 16.9% 1.1% Expedia Ctrip Orbitz Expedia Priceline Agoda Travelocity Dian Ping Yelp Qunar Other Other 26.8%
  7. 7. 13 ILTM TheLuxuryTraveller&SocialMedia2013 What drives guest satisfaction? Identifying the varying points of delight and disappointment uncovers deeper insights into the mind of the luxury travel consumer. In the following chart, green circles indicate points of delight while pink circles indicate points of disappointment. The difference in the size of the outer circle represents the impact of each category - that is, how often a luxury traveller mentions that topic in his/ her online postings. Meanwhile, the inner circles signify the attributes within those drivers, with varying shades suggesting the extremity of the positive or negative feeling. 12brandkarma The Guest Experience: Delights & Disappointments
  8. 8. 15 ILTMTheLuxuryTraveller&SocialMedia2013 TheLuxuryTraveller&SocialMedia201314brandkarma Comparing The North and Latin American Luxury Traveller Key Trends: Globally & Within The Americas MOBILE REVIEWS PHOTOS & VIDEOS The Global Luxury Traveller Mobile hotel bookings jumped 20% in 2013 93% of travellers look at hotel reviews before booking Travel photos get 53% more “likes” and 104% more comments than an average Facebook post The North American Luxury Traveller More likely to book a hotel if it offers services through mobile devices They comprise 47% of all hotel reviews worldwide 9 out of 10 hotels are present on Pinterest and YouTube The Latin American Luxury Traveller 55.4% mobile penetration, expected to reach 70% by 2015 Only around 2% write reviews after a holiday Hotels have little or no managed presence on major photo and video channels Key Very strong trend Strong trend Weak trend
  9. 9. 17 ILTMTheLuxuryTraveller&SocialMedia2013 TheLuxuryTraveller&SocialMedia201316brandkarma Luxury Hotels: Top Performers Hotel Name Location GLOBAL Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver, Canada 75 5 5,391 5,714 182 248 3,242 Oberoi Mumbai Hotel Mumbai, India 74 5 5,282 500 - - 1,423 Miraflores Park Hotel Lima, Peru 74 5 7,938 571 - - - Rosewood Little Dix Bay Resort Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands 73 4.5 3,553 351 - - - Umaid Bhawan Palace Hotel Jodhpur, India 72 5 13,848 - - - - The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort Punta Mita, Mexico 72 5 5,786 12,242 88 - 1,956 Rosewood Mayakoba Resort Playa del Carmen, Mexico 71 5 7,417 1,744 - 3,052 5,243 Taj Exotica Resort & Spa Emboodhu Finolhu, Maldives 71 5 7,263 1,010 - - 11,028 The Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, China 71 5 6,952 - - - - Mount Nelson Hotel Cape Town, South Africa 71 5 2,946 4,322 - - - north america Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver, Canada 75 5 5,391 5,714 182 248 3,242 The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort Punta Mita, Mexico 72 5 5,786 12,242 88 - 1,956 Rosewood Mayakoba Resort, Playa del Carmen Playa del Carmen, Mexico 71 5 7,417 1,744 - 3,052 5,243 The Wickaninnish Inn & Pointe Restaurant Hotel Tofino, Canada 70 5 7,242 5,495 425 - 21,833 Four Seasons Resort Hualalai Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA 69 5 6,642 5,328 341 - 1,644 Four Seasons Hotel Austin Austin, USA 68 4.5 5,654 7,921 1,369 462 3,940 The Boulders Resort and Golden Door Spa Carefree, USA 68 5 5,357 3,430 138 - 6,293 Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa Poipu, Hawaii, USA 67 4.5 12,150 5,893 380 900 26,013 Hotel 1000 Seattle, USA 67 4.5 6,648 4,505 134 78 1,988 Las Ventanas Al Paraiso San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico 65 5 7,044 - - 272 5,157 LATIN america Miraflores Park Hotel Lima, Peru 74 5 7,938 571 - - - Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires Buenos Aires, Argentina 68 5 7,331 6,661 303 231 - Palacio Duhau - Park Hyatt Buenos Aires Hotel Buenos Aires, Argentina 62 5 6,439 3,803 133 228 1,373 Sofitel Buenos Aires Hotel Buenos Aires, Argentina 61 5 49,187 - - - - InterContinental Hotel Buenos Aires Buenos Aires, Argentina 61 4.5 12,301 0 - - 149 Sofitel Bogota Victoria Regia Bogota, Columbia 61 4.5 5,807 - - - - JW Marriott Hotel Quito Quito, Equador 53 4.5 4,169 152 - - - The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort Bahia, Brazil 51 5 6,072 476 48 336 11,113 Alvear Palace Hotel Buenos Aires, Argentina 51 5 7,871 6,066 269 - 2,767 Sofitel La Reservas Cardales Hotel Buenos Aires, Argentina 49 5 4,969 - - - -
  10. 10. 19 ILTMTheLuxuryTraveller&SocialMedia2013 TheLuxuryTraveller&SocialMedia2013 The Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver found itself in the spotlight earlier this year with the untimely death of 31-year- old Glee actor Cory Monteith on its premises, but given such sudden attention, it demonstrated professionalism in its social media response management. The hotel’s tweet was short, appropriate, and purposeful in announcing the news while conveying condolences: Meanwhile, hotel grounds became a makeshift memorial for Monteith as fans left flowers, notes, and other mementos on the street outside. About a week after Monteith’s death, Fairmont said that they would send the gifts to charity and remove the flowers. Their low-key response contrasted to previous hotels that have capitalised or wholly disregarded the death of famous figures. Notably, Boscolo Palace in Rome began renting out actor James Gandolfini’s suite a mere two days after his death, while the Beverly Hilton tweeted their sympathies before brusquely moving the focus onto a party thrown by Clive Davis just a few floors below Whitney Houston’s room. When it comes to social media for luxury travel, it’s easy to focus on the hotels, restaurants, and destinations. After all, that’s what the guest is experiencing. But what about the luxury travel advisor? The impact of digital marketing has doubtlessly forced travel advisors to evolve, and many are using social media with remarkable success. At the Bright Young Things workshop at ILTM Cannes 2012, many advisors discussed how their personal Facebook accounts were huge generators of business, sometimes more so than their agency’s Facebook page. Michael Holtz, owner of Manhattan-based luxury travel advisor SmartFlyer, is friends with many of his clients on Facebook. When they comment on his posts, friends-of-friends notice the interactions, leading new clients to Holtz. This has produced $30,000 to $50,000 in bookings in a short timespan. Aside from Holtz’s own account, SmartFlyer has been at the forefront of using social media in several innovative ways: • SmartFlyer creatively use a secret account for rapid collaboration with its affiliates all around the US. • SmartFlyer Director Erina Pindar manages the agency’s Facebook and Twitter page, which not only inspires travel with clients but also simplifies supplier relations. Hotels and airlines see firsthand how the agency interacts with clients and markets luxury travel. • The company’s web site is centered around a multi-voiced blog, blending the personal and professional tastes of SmartFlyer’s advisors and authentically communicating their passion and knowledge for one-of-a- kind travel experiences. 18brandkarma Case Study: Social Media Crisis Management Case Study: How Luxury Travel Advisors Succeed in Social Media
  11. 11. 21 ILTMTheLuxuryTraveller&SocialMedia2013 TheLuxuryTraveller&SocialMedia2013 Social media dominates the pulse of Brazil’s online sphere. It is second only to the U.S. for Facebook and YouTube, while Twitter has ranked it as one of its five most active markets, setting up an office in Rio de Janeiro this year. With the travel industry on track to surpass a projected US$7.5 billion online travel sales this year, HotelUrbano is an online travel agency (OTA) at the epicentre of all the action. Formed only two and a half years ago in Rio de Janeiro, the OTA is targeting US$197 million in revenue by the end of 2013 and reportedly raised US$20 million in investment to continue supporting its rapid growth. The site offers hotel bookings and vacation packages in 35,000 destinations to a Brazilian user base of over 15 million registered users. One factor that the HotelUrbano team hopes will help it to stand apart is the opening of its concept stores, bringing its digital offer to the real world and taking an innovative approach to e-commerce. Utilising Brazil’s vibrant social media landscape to its advantage, HotelUrbano’s emphasis on social media is paying off – with a 7.8 million fans to show on The Luxury Traveller & Social Media: Americas presents findings from Brand Karma’s research on comments, photos, and videos left by luxury travellers both in the Americas and globally on social media and travel review sites between January 2010 and June 2013; year-over-year comparisons were undertaken between the calendar years of 2011 to 2012. The data presented in this report has been analysed from 541,186 reviews written for more than 2,000 luxury hotels worldwide, which were specifically selected for this study. Hotels are categorised geographically into five regions: North America (Canada, Mexico, United States); Latin America (Caribbean, Central America, and South America); Europe; Middle East & Africa; and Asia-Pacific. Brand Karma interprets the way in which consumers perceive hotel brands by analysing brand sentiments on travel review sites, OTAs, discussion forums, and social networking sites. Through applying text analysis and natural language processing to examine all statements within a hotel review, Brand Karma can then determine the attribute(s) discussed and categorise the guest’s sentiment toward that attribute as positive, negative or neutral. Moreover, the technology detects subtle differences in expression. For example, a comment describing the hotel’s breakfast buffet as “delicious” is scored more favourably than one describing it as “pretty good.” Brand Karma combines these scores to calculate a review’s net satisfaction score. Standard social media performance metrics – including but not limited to the number of Facebook likes, number of YouTube views, etc. – are pulled directly from the source web site. All figures were current as of July 2013. 20brandkarma Case Study: HotelUrbano & the World of Online Travel in Brazil Methodology Facebook, a number it claims to be the highest within the travel industry worldwide. The company has been committed to marketing on Facebook since day one. Instead of just looking at return on investment, HotelUrbano uses social media to get people to like and interact with the brand, personalising offers to its fans only when appropriate. HotelUrbano spends about $2 million a month across social media, search and promotional channels, with a marketing budget of $30 million for 2013. They push out monthly travel promotions at a low- to-zero profit margin to try to make more people travel. By aiming to interact with people every month and deliver something very cool, HotelUrbano want to make fans feel special, increasing the rate of returning customers, and driving brand loyalty. With the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics taking place in Brazil, events that attract millions of tourists, and the country having an ever-expanding middle class, and with the technology and tourism industries in Brazil are erupting at the same time, it’s a great time to be a Brazilian travel startup.
  12. 12. 23 ILTMTheLuxuryTraveller&SocialMedia2013 TheLuxuryTraveller&SocialMedia2013 Brand Karma helps hospitality and travel companies monitor, manage, and monetise their digital media. The company’s tools and services synthesise online reviews, social media, web site analytics, and purchase data. Brand Karma also consults for brands, allowing them to increase competitiveness and maximise profitability. The company tracks the social media performance of over 350,000 hotels worldwide, working with the world’s most admired hospitality brands including Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Marriott International, InterContinental Hotels Group, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Shangri- La Hotels & Resorts, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Dorchester Collection, Langham Hospitality Group, Frasers Hospitality, and many independent hotels. Brand Karma has offices in the US, Singapore, Greater China, Japan, and Europe. To learn more about Brand Karma, email or visit ILTM Americas opens the doors to the Americas community of the luxury travel industry in a time-efficient format; introducing select international suppliers to exclusive Americas buyers through bespoke appointment programmes and networking sessions. ILTM is the solution to growing your business across precise, lucrative markets. For more information on ILTM events visit 22brandkarma About Brand Karma About International Luxury Travel Market
  13. 13. For further information please contact: Simon Mayle Head of Marketing ILTM Events Tel: +44 (0) 208 910 7868 Email: For media enquires please contact: Lucy Clifton Cut Communications Tel: +44 (0) 20 8334 4008 Email: