Hospitality Word of Mouth: How Social Media Has Revolutionized It

The owners and managers of hospitality businesses should be familiar with the three types of media present in advertising: owned, paid, and earned. Owned media includes forums owned and controlled by your company such as your website or blog. Paid media involves any paid advertising such as radio, television, or banner ads. The third type of media, earned media, is the most important and by far the most valuable to any business. Earned media is so named because this is the advertising your company earns by pleasing (or displeasing) clients. Earned media is advertising spread by word of mouth physically or electronically between your customers and their business associates, families, and friends.

Hospitality Word of Mouth

Vital to the success of your company, earned media is the most widely trusted source of advertising by consumers. In fact, 70% of consumers say they trust hospitality word of mouth recommendations from friends, while only 10% trust paid forms of advertising. No matter how honest, poignant, and clearly communicated your paid advertisement is, potential customers will still listen to the recommendations of their friends and families first. Consider your own judgments of advertising. If your father reported having a negative dining experience at a restaurant to you, would you still believe that same restaurant’s advertisements claiming its merits?

Infinite Reach

The internet and the subsequent innovation known as social media have revolutionized earned media and the nature of word of mouth marketing. Consumers used to be limited to communicating with only the people they knew personally, constraining the power of word of mouth marketing. Today however, every consumer has the potential to reach nearly every other consumer in the world by reviewing his or her experience with your company, making the potential of word of mouth marketing almost infinite. Consumers can communicate with the entire online community through social media, and unlike the spoken word which whispers, fades, and is eventually forgotten, the written word lasts forever. Due to its newfound power, word of mouth marketing has proven itself to be quite useful for hospitality businesses who choose to harness its potential.

While all business owners strive to run their companies smoothly in order to receive only the best reviews from customers, the occasional mistake or oversight can and will happen. Whether your client enjoys his or her stay or has a regrettable experience, you can be sure he or she will turn to social media to review your company. With the ability to spread either negative or positive messages about your company, it is imperative that businesses engage and interact with customers on social media platforms such as FacebookTwitterTripAdvisor, or Yelp.


With an active presence on social media platforms, your business can manage and transform negative reviews into positive examples of your company’s above-standard customer service by reaching out to individuals with an apology and an offer of assistance. Your business will also capitalize on positive reviews by thanking customers, and asking them to share more about their experiences. By participating in social media, your business will take control of the conversation, and increase the amount of earned media advertising your brand.