Death of the website or love of social media?

With corporate social media platforms a must for most businesses, where does a website fit in these days? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr. All checked! Google+ Page. LinkedIn profile. Checked again! 

With the indulgence of social media, this week’s trend looks at the agonizing question plaguing many: website or social media? Exactly where to invest the effort, time and dollars to manage the overwhelming number of online choices is staggering but can businesses really operate with one over the other?

This debate is trending and I hope this week’s blog lends some value to the smaller businesses on the “other” side of hospitality who market and support the product and service needs of the industry.

With the industry trend of rebranding properties into lifestyle hubs, marketing to millennial’s and showcasing “all things local,” many of the newer products of interest are from independently operated, smaller and relatively new businesses which can cause agony for the hospitality world to source relevant let alone local items.

Having an excellent online presence is crucial and although it requires a full time devotion to manage multiple sites, platforms and pages, it’s an expectation in the sophisticated and often fickle channel of Hospitality sourcing. Those in charge of innovation or purchasing are typically married to their screens as many simply do not have the time to attend tradeshows like they use to, let alone shows outside the hotel industry (which ironically is where many of the new vendors originated).

Lets take a look at the pluses and minuses of a website vs. social media: 

With over 1 billion people using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and other social platforms, small businesses instantly earn an advantage of a built-in base of potential new customers along with an interaction opportunity to build relationships on social media. So, many of the newer suppliers have grown up in this world and it’s all they know. This is why more than ever, the hospitality brand managers and strategic sourcing folks are turning to social media in a quest to find new ideas.

Social media profiles and pages are indeed the quick and easier option which is why many in Hospitality would testify the content often appears fresh compared to what is seen on websites. Many of the new suppliers simply do not have the means to keep websites updated which is why many will redirect their domain names to social media pages, (also referred to as domain forwarding). There is indeed an element of ease and of course it’s much more professional than saying “follow me on Facebook!”

Social media has become respected as the place to learn more about business values, the mission and purpose thanks to the constant updates and consumer responses social media does provide. It’s also the better opportunity to confirm consumer loyalty.

On the flipside, social media can be a constraint to your brand appeal as you do have to follow a specific layout which is why customizing your header and profile picture is an absolute must. Also, due to the interaction taking place between the business and customers, it’s crucial to monitor your platforms frequently.      

Let’s take a look at the appeal of a corporate website starting with the attraction of full control over your products and branding which for many is the deal sealer for this option. A corporate website is yours – you own it and the costs affiliated to launch or redesign one have greatly improved thanks to Go Daddy and Wix. You will also have more space to market or explain your business and products. Lets also not forget there is no substitute for “credibility” and even if your site is playing it safe with simplicity, the trust factor is golden.

The down side of running a website-only basically depends on the size of your site and costs to keep the content up-to-date. The rule of thumb is the more sophisticated your site, the more money and time it will require to manage it let alone the work involved to get traffic to your site. 

Ideally, if you plan to market to hotels, you should leverage a website and social media presence. Having one without the other in this day and age is not a good first impression. On behalf of Hospitality which can generate an almost uncomprehendable amount of visual impressions for your brand, I’m a believer that every ounce of investment for an excellent online presence is well with your investment. (It’s a motivator behind my time and devotion to research and report weekly trends via this blog!). 

What are your preferences? Website, social media or both? If social media is where you’re investing your time, which platforms do you get a majority of your business traffic from?