Greek hotels do not take advantage of today’s technology, according to the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises‘ Ideas & Action Council (SID) forum held recently titled “Internet Social Media: On-line Travel Communities.”
At the forum it was ascertained that cost and trust are the two factors that online travelers base their choice of hotel accommodation on.
Also found was that travelers do express their experiences through social media (online conversations among Internet users).
According to Yiannis Larios, special adviser to the special secretary of digital planning of the finance ministry, Greece still has a long way to go as far as social media is concerned.
Mr. Larios stressed that the characteristics and habits of customers change frequently and the online presence of Greek hotels is low and the potential for online bookings is even lower.
“Only three percent of Greek hotels have their own webpage, while 80 percent do not reply to e-mails sent by customers,” he said.
The special advisor said that Greek hoteliers view the Internet as a “luxurious brochure” as their homepages are limited to a general hotel description that only includes photos, menus and room prices.
It was agreed by all speakers of the forum that social media in some ways could prove even more valuable to hotels than if they advertised through large firms.
Stefanos Karagos, information architect, gave his insight on Web 2.0 applications and social media.
“Travelers upload photos of hotels they have stayed at during their vacation and post comments,” he said.
Mr. Karagos proposed Greek hoteliers to get more involved with the Internet and add forums on their homepages in order to get feedback from customers.
He advised hotels to “talk to their customers” even if their opinion is negative in regards to their provided services, as it is a way for problems to be spotted and solved.
Hoteliers were advised by experts at the forum to make social media a part of their everyday concern and perhaps hire a social media follower who would monitor online conversations in forums and detect what is being said in regards to their hotel services.
They were advised to improve their websites and make a blog in order for today’s travelers, who use the Internet and are in search of quick and accurate information, to compare options available for their journey.
Social media consultant, Panagiotis Vrionis, advised hoteliers to include a blog on their homepages and even use it to announce news and facts about the hotel, its upcoming events, etc.
“A blog takes the relationship between a hotelier and a customer to a different level as it is a communication channel and a good way to ‘keep in touch’ with travelers,” he said.
Communication sponsors of the event were Greek Travel Pages, Google, BCA, Aegean Airlines, Airotel, Atcom, and the Holiday Inn.