Background and rationale
The general definition of marketing is the action, collection organizations, and the tasks for making, communicating, delivering, and trade products that are valuable to the customers, partners, and other stakeholders (Keefe, 2008). Marketing has evolved largely since the dawn of the internet and the social networking sites (Yazdanifard, & Yosuff, 2012). Marketing the business products and services is paramount in any industry including the tourism and hospitality industry. The evolution has brought up the digital marketing through social media sites and other platforms on the internet.
Facebook is one of the common social media and social networking platform that allows individuals to register as users and then be able to create profiles, upload photos, and videos, and may communicate to other registered users in the platform using texts (Rabbath et al, 2012). The platform has some additional features too including the creation of groups, the registered users can create, join, or add other people to a group that involves their common interests (Deloitte, 2015). The main benefit is that there has been an increase in the number of users of social media platforms over the internet (Seth, 2012). In social media sites including Facebook, information flow is faster around the world, to larger masses than any other form of communication on the internet (Krahl, 2013). Facebook has been mainly used for professional networking, marketing, communication, and entertainment. Facebook may provide a visual state of the destination (some users may upload photos and videos of various tourist sites) and therefore influence the decision of the on where to go (Gururaja, 2016).
Currently, it seems that there is ignorance about the capability of Facebook as a marketing tool. Many organizations including those in the tourism and hospitality industry have mainly focused on other online marketing solutions. This is despite Facebook being a free platform, hence cheaper compared to other forms such as having an online website or paying for online advertisements. Facebook also has recorded to having 2.9 billion monthly users (in the first quarter of 2018) hence providing a good base to get new customers (Statista, 2018). Most of the existing publication focus on social media as a whole thus lacking enough information about Facebook in particular.
The focus of this research paper is to investigate the effect that Facebook has on the marketing by tourism and hospitality firms and its influence on the choice of travel destination of the tourists.
The aim of this study is to identify and analyze the effects of Facebook as a social media platform on the performance of marketing strategies in the tourism and hospitality industry. In addition, to study how Facebook has influenced the choice of traveling destinations of the tourists.
1. To understand the general role that Facebook plays in marketing.
2. To understand the differences that exist in the tourism and hospitality industry, before and after Facebook became popular
3. To understand the effects of revenue that the companies in the tourism sector experience due to the influence of Facebook on consumer behavior.
4. To understand the new marketing strategies that exist and those can be introduced into the industry using Facebook.
5. To identify means that the industry could take advantage off in order to benefit from the platform.
6. To get a concise understanding of the changes in consumer behavior that has been brought about by access to information through Facebook.
Tourism is the social, cultural, and economic practice in which people move from one location to another, (maybe from country to country or within the same country) in most cases a new location away from their normal environment for either personal or professional business trips (Yu et al, 2012). Tourism has become a major economic activity in some countries and regions. It has gained status and has become a field that has been critically researched on and a crucial academic field. The stakeholders in the tourism industry have placed many expectations on the internet. Since the tourism industry provides intangible services to the customers, it, therefore, can easily adapt to electronic data transfer.
Facebook provides organizations of all sizes the capability to reach a large number of potential customers (through the platform that currently has over 2.9 billion people). The platform also has products that favor marketing such as pages and advertising. Businesses use these marketing tools to get new customers and maintain their already existing customers because people can now be aware of company's products (Deloitte, 2015). Such awareness has forced the players to be open, and have integrity because the providing false information in advertisements can be noticed easily (Benea, 2014). The Deloitte report further states that pages feature in the platform has enabled organizations to make their brand awareness in the common devices used. Target advertising has made it possible for organizations to reach the users who are most likely interested in the brands. This is done by the analysis of the characteristics of the users. The businesses benefit when users share the link to the organization's online resources with their friends, which has shown to help in increasing sales (Deloitte, 2015). In conclusion, Facebook provides a large audience base for tourism and hospitality businesses to tap.
The platform provides the customers a basis to acquire information travel destinations. Facebook like other social networking platforms is an Internet-based application founded on the Web 2.0 technology, that allows the user to share information that has been generated by the user him or herself (Kaplan, & Haenlein, 2010). This means that Facebook provides a platform where the user can exchange information that they themselves have generated, altered, and uploaded (Leung et al, 2013). The platform itself does not generate any information that is shared on the platform. For one to travel from one location to another as a tourist he or she has to carry out a broad research on the destination since the travel is usually a high risk and complex to carry out (Gururaja, 2016). The consumers mainly depend on the information relayed by other travelers who have experience. Travelers may put their feedback of the experiences that they got in their vacation online and therefore new travelers are able to view and make appropriate decisions on their travel (Krahl, 2013). This information is gotten in Facebook reviews that are made on the pages and accounts of tourism and hospitality organizations. In addition, the capability of one to do blogging on Facebook. Blogging provides a chance for individuals to express their personal opinions and may, therefore, build or taint the reputation of the company (ISM, 2014). Thus, reviews and blogging in the Facebook platform influence the destination choice of tourists.
The users have Facebook search at their disposal. This feature allows a user to search for items in the platforms' database. The items include people, locations, photos, trending topics, and posts (Fletcher, 2018). Facebook has connected the users to friends or family despite any physical remoteness and thus it has become popular for people to share videos and photos (R'athonyi, 2013). The users can be able to locate a suitable vacation site by just using this Facebook search which will display items that are related to the name searched. Socialike states that once the user searches for a destination then Facebook will provide reviews and posts from the user's friends and therefore the user is able to determine other customers' experiences in the destination (2016). This, therefore, provides the user with information on which travel destination to pick and may, therefore, be used by organizations to reach more audience.
The fact the one can share videos and photos means companies in the tourism industry can take advantage of this situation by posting photos and videos of the sites that one may desire to visit (Benea, 2014). Visitors are able to see the reviews that previous customers have made, loyal customers may also post their photos while at the visiting sites that are linked to the company's website (Zen & Genitsen, 2014). The reviews made online also attract new customers if they are positive (Manap & Adzharudin, 2013). A large number of people feel that the information gotten from the online reviews as a better source of information on travel destinations compared to the information on advertisements. This is an advantage to the companies if they have good reviews on Facebook since travelers depend on the information that has been provided by other travelers (Fotis & Buhalis, 2012). The companies are also able to communicate with the consumers which create a good impression and, therefore, building trust and loyalty from the consumers (Bredican & Vigar-Ellis, 2014). Facebook, therefore, provide the basis for getting information that can be used to generate, monitor, and evaluate the trending reputation of a company in the industry.
Companies in the industry are able to promote their products through (Kumar & Manoj, 2011). The companies are able to communicate the new promotions to the consumers in an efficient and timely manner. The companies also learn more about the target customers; through getting information about their needs and behaviors from the social networking platforms (Minazzi, 2015). Thus, through analysis of users searches, the organizations can be able to determine requirements of the customers. The organizations may do this by following up the comments that have been made by consumers with respect to the company (Stelzner, 2010). This provides an opportunity to improve customer relations since the customers' questions and other issues may be easy answers and addressed (Yazdabnfard, 2014).
The literature review has provided an outline of major publications in relation to the impact of Facebook. The review has also provided a brief description of Facebook as a social networking platform. Finally, the review provides the benefits that have been identified by various authors that affect marketing and travel choice with respect to Facebook. The defect of the publications is that they mainly outline the impact that Facebook has in marketing in terms of reviews, shared links, and photos. The current knowledge base lacks views on efficiency, direct impacts on costs, and the effectiveness that the use of Facebook introduces to the tourism and hospitality organizations.
Chosen research approach
This section outlines the chosen research philosophy (interpretive) and the chosen research approach (inductive approach).
The interpretive philosophers hold the idea that a single thing may have several distinct understanding and no basic process exists that can be used to determine the truth (Myers, 2008). The interpretive researcher aims to study a certain topic by getting the personal views of the subject population (Walsham). The aim of the interpretive is to gain an intensive understanding of the phenomenon instead of formulating general ideas about the population (Al riyami, 2015). An interpretive philosophy is appropriate in this case because it aims at getting an in-depth understanding of the influences Facebook has on the tourism and hospitality industry.
The inductive approach involves the researcher making observations and the formulating theories at the end of the research process. The theories are made based on the observations made. The research seeks to find a pattern from the obser...
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