The Impact of Social Media Marketing on Travel

Introduction

Lebanon’s area is ranked 170th in the world (CIA, 2014). It is smaller than the size of Connecticut, one of the smallest states in in america. Moreover, Lebanon is one of the few democratic countries in the middle East region. Regarding its economy, Lebanon is a free market facebook buy and sell economy and has a very long tradition of laissez-faire economics. In addition to its coastal location on the Eastern Mediterranean shore, Lebanon is considered as the central ‘window’ of the Middle East to Europe, North Africa, and other world. Because of this, its economy moved through some very prosperous times and was even once called the ‘Paris’ of the Middle East before the nation’s 15 year-long soft city war which ended in 1990.

Also, although Lebanon is tiny, it is also one of the most diverse nations in the world. Christians, Muslims, Druze, and other community sects are spread all over the small nation and even Lebanon’s political system is based on sectarian power sharing.

However, this diversity had played a pivotal role in the nation’s problems. This diversity was a crucial condition of the country’s sectarian city war and currently plays an important role in its political paralysis, although other factors (mainly foreign) are find fault as well. There is currently no acting Director and the country’s rival political parties keep bickering and preventing rather than aiding the country’s development.

Furthermore, Lebanon’s proximity to Israel has made it a foreign policy/proxy battleground for foreign nations, each using Lebanon for its own selfish ends.

The sad political concrete realities of the country have significantly hurt the country’s economy. Also, since Lebanon is a service-based economy, this particular sector has brought the largest hit.

Travel plays a significant role in the nation’s economy. According to the Lebanese Ministry of Economy & Trade (MOET), “Tourism is one of Lebanon’s leading economic sectors” (Economic Research Unit, 2010).

Furthermore, The world Travel & Travel Authorities estimated that the travel & travel sector in Lebanon contributed over $4 billion dollars in 2013 (World Travel & Travel Authorities, 2014).

The travel & travel sector made up about 10% of the economy in 2012 but that share dropped to 9% in 2013 (ibid, p. 14). This is due to the political situation in the country as well as some other factors. Moreover, the number of tourist arrivals in the country kept decreasing from 2011 to 2013.

Since the travel industry has been somewhat floundering in the past few years, the room for error becomes tiny for businesses in this industry. The political & economic situations are squeezing tourist-related (TR) businesses in Lebanon. This means that these lenders are forced to do more to replace increasing losses (or decreasing profits) and with fewer resources. There is no telling when the political & economic situation in Lebanon will improve especially since the city war in border Syria shows no signs of abating.

There are many techniques Lebanese TR businesses can adapt over these times such as implementing downsizing policies and restricting on marketing & advertising budgets. When economic recessions and tough times affect businesses, the first things to get eliminated are usually marketing budgets. But especially since TR businesses need to do more marketing to replace lost businesses, this may not be a good idea.

One solution to this problem is to take advantage of Social media marketing strategies simply because they cost little to no resources, perfect for the current economic situation in Lebanon. Social media marketing allows TR businesses to overcome obstacles of limited budgets and decreased business.

Problem Statement

During the past few years, the positive effect of social media on business has been extremely high (Kaplan et ‘s., 2010; Stelzner, 2010; Treem & Leonardi, 2012, p. 143; Baker & Green, 2014).

Moreover, Facebook and Twitter fans of a specific brand are much more likely to recommend and buy from these brands than non-fans (Cruz & Mendelsohn, 2011). But, we don’t must make sure of social media’s have an effect on business through studies. For social media users, such as over 30% of the world, this in order to known. More and more businesses are inserting Social media marketing tools into their marketing strategies and, in some cases, have even become a fundamental piece of their overall business strategy.

Naturally, one would expect that Lebanese businesses would quickly adopt Social media marketing as a key role in their overall marketing strategies but this is not the case. When it comes to the middle East and especially Lebanon, the region is far behind the Rest of the world in social media usage. Not only that, when it comes to businesses mixed up in travel industry, there is much room for growth. Little investment in technology is keeping tourist businesses away from increasing marketing opportunities given by social media.

The Lebanese travel industry is not taking advantage of social media marketing tactics even though the advantages of doing so are apparent. This presents a great problem especially since the economy is going by way of a very rough time.

Moreover, Lebanese TR businesses and businesses in Lebanon in general are not taking on social media tools as they should. This presents a huge problem in the waste of resources as well as significant missed opportunities as a larger target audience can be reached via social media enabling businesses that adopt social media marketing tools gain a better chance of success and prosperity.

Reasons like the study

The fruits and advantages of social media marketing tools may take significant time to come about in Lebanon if we are ignorant of the factors that have led to the prevention of widespread social media marketing usage.

Also, as long as no study switches into the issue of effectively implementing a social media marketing campaign in the Lebanese context, many TR businesses may be lost even if they decide to adopt social media marketing tools.

Additionally, even though there have been numerous studies in the Rest of the world about effectively implementing social media marketing campaigns, the results of these studies may or may not connect with the Lebanese context. Therefore, it is also the stage that this study to find out those factors related to effectively implementing social media marketing among Lebanese TR businesses.

At the end, there is no doubt that social media marketing plays an extremely important role in the marketing campaigns and even in the overall success of tourism-related businesses.

Lebanese Tourist-Related (TR) businesses fall far behind the developed world in investing and using SMM. Since there are many benefits of SMM, why is this so? Also, to catch up to other world, what is the simplest way for Lebanese TR businesses to deploy an SMM campaign? So, it was the study’s purpose to find reasons connected to such low investment & use of SMM by Lebanese TR businesses and to help guide these lenders in effectively using SMM.

System

The stage that this study is twofold. This study aims to find out exactly what those factors are that are preventing the widespread usage of social media marketing tools among Lebanese TR businesses. The philosophy used is interpretivism, for an inductive approach to go from specific to general research, the strategy is ethnographic, and the system is qualitative. In-depth interviews are used with ten participants from ten different companies. Five companies had high social media ‘visibility’ and the other five didn’t. So, the participants’ answers provided very useful information and solutions for the research problem.

Findings

The results found that among the most relevant factors of little SMM investment & use by Lebanese TR businesses are that many don’t see benefits to using SMM and so don’t support it.

The results also provided useful information on factors for effectively implementing SMM by Lebanese TR businesses including the acceptance of SMM by ownership/decision-makers and the great need of these people in seeing the benefits of SMM. Also, problems with implementing SMM include negative customer feedback and inter-departmental power struggles.

Recommendations include communicating the benefits of SMM to Lebanese TR businesses which is of such high importance to get them to use SMM. There should also be an SMM plan with a consistent schedule outlining purchasing to add content to social media sites as well as comprehensive monitoring of SM user comments about the business.

At the end, it is the researcher’s hope that the study helped shed light on important areas of SMM and its relation to Lebanese TR businesses. It is also thought that the recommendations be thought of by Lebanese TR businesses.

References

Baker, S., & Green, L. (2014, February 20). Social media changes your business. Business week.

CIA World Factbook 2014. (2014, Nov 11). Total Area : sq km 2014 country comparisons, ranks, By Rank.

Johnson, B., & Mendelsohn, J. (2011). Why social media matters to your business. Retrieved from Chadwick Martin Bailey

Economic Research Unit. (2010) Travel. Ministry of Economy & Trade Newsletter, (5)

Kaplan, Andreas Meters. and Michael Haenlein. 2010. “Users of the World, Unite! The Challenges and Opportunities of Social media. inches Business Horizons 53: 59-68.

Stelzner, Meters. (2010). Social media marketing industry report: how marketers are using social media to grow their business.

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