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The Portrayal of Social Media Marketing in the Luxury Tourism Industry: A Review of the Literature and a Preliminary Analysis
1 Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India
2 Department of Business Administration, Ravenshaw University, Cuttack, Odisha, India
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Luxurious tourist industry winds up with the thoughts of exclusivity with restricted access to a select number of socially isolated travellers. Our comprehensive literature survey focuses on understanding the approach of tourism academia in the context of luxury travel, which is constructed on the remarks from social media and the specialised areas with regards to the studies that were conducted prior to this. The ‘luxury tourism’, ‘elite travel’, ‘social media’ and ‘sustainability’ were used in different combinations to discover literature. This was done using Google Scholar, the ProQuest database, etc. The critical analysis was conducted based on the peer-reviewed publications. The following three areas were selected and reviewed: (a) social media’s importance in luxury tourism; (b) the behavioural features of luxury travellers who use various social media apps; and (c) existing literature surveys that provided the limitations of analysing data, specifically, in the context of luxury tourism. The examined papers and publications for the last 10 years, from March 2010 to March 2020, were considered to determine the themes and focus points, as well as to measure the value of social media in luxury travel. The article discusses the upcoming research issues, and the major hindrance in this is that it requires new conceptual and methodological frameworks to enhance deep understanding of the mediating effect between social media and the luxury tourist industry based on the findings of various reviews of literature.
Luxury tourism, social media, elite travels, sustainable
To have sustainable existence is the important aura in tourism marketing. In context to the United Nations, the four fundamental features of sustainability are economic development, social justice, natural resource protection and environmental protection (Andriate & Fink, 2017; Gilmore & Simmons, 2007; Jenkins & Schroder, 2013). Sustainable resource management develops the atmosphere which supports society’s social, economic and lucrative expectations. Corporate competitiveness may also be improved via the usage of sustainability (Cantele & Cassia, 2020). Sustainable factors have been found to have an impact on luxury tourism industry development, and the tourists are more inclined to the empathy of tourism industry including resorts (Rishi et al., 2015), cruises (Han et al., 2019), restaurants (Gao et al., 2016; Rishi et al., 2015), etc.
Furthermore, the tourist industries create massive environmental impact and the enormous increase trend of the luxury tourists are more concern to the environment. At a very early stage, the tourist service providers have identified and noted that luxury tourism will have more competitive benefits in the future (Hedlund, 2011; Modica et al., 2020). According to Han et al. (2011), eco-friendly strategy is one of the crucial marketing strategies for the luxury tourism business (Rishi et al., 2015). Research has also highlighted the need of encouraging sustainability in the luxury lodging market. A majority of the businesses have accepted the usage of digital and social media marketing tools to effectively portray themselves as environmentally friendly and as a sustainable business (Wood & Khan, 2016). Many tourism companies consider online exposure as an important way to capitalise their resources and gain competitive benefits for achieving corporate success (Smithson et al., 2011; Vorhies & Morgan, 2005). Consumers can use social media to express their thoughts and search for luxury tourism guidance (Culnan et al., 2010; Giglio et al., 2020; Kim & Lee, 2019; Park et al., 2016; Stieglitz & Dang-Xuan, 2013; Wood & Khan, 2016). Companies always focused on the social media marketing as their major low-cost information-disseminating advertising tool for sharing vital information about the company’s policies, products offered, services rendered and the offers and discounts.
In context to the luxury tourism industry, social media marketing is the most familiar tool for both businesses and consumers; it is also the hot and trending research issue among academics (Smithson et al., 2011). Social media technologies have proved useful in helping businesses to adapt their communication environments (O’Brien, 2011). The social media networks are ‘websites that allow users to interact and participate with other individuals, resulting in a community of people who exchange information and content’ (Minazzi, 2015). Social media, as a widely utilised communication medium, has now played a crucial mode for creating awareness on luxury tourism industries to increase the eco-friendly standards (Minazzi, 2015).
With a market worth of US$891 billion in 2019 and an estimate of US$1.6 trillion by 2026, the luxury tourism industry has grown enormously in frequent years (Allied Market Research, 2019). The industry’s efforts to communicate with its consumer base via social media have expanded considerably, and as has the sector’s economic clout. The use of social media and the big data analytics has a significant impact, and it can be considered as the major component of a luxury tourist brand’s strategic management from the viewpoint of luxury tourism. Scholars employed social media interactions (Kim & Lee, 2019), online rating and sentiment analysis and social media interactions (Giglio et al., 2020) to gather input from guests of luxury hotels in order to better understand customer sentiments (Boo & Busser, 2018). In contrast to past empirical investigations, we conducted our research using an integrated literature strategy. The following is how this article is structured: The review of literature section of the article makes use of the Google Scholar, OneSearch and most recent ProQuest database to highlight an overview of the key terms ‘luxury tourism’, ‘elite travel’, ‘social media’ and ‘sustainable’ in various combinations. Kuhlman and Farrington (2010) emphasise on the key terms ‘profit’ for businesses (economic) and ‘happiness’ for audience (social); both these issues are the mediating factors of technology, and they must always take into account the environmental factors in an attempt to construct sustainability in the context of the triple bottom line. The study highlighted the economic feasibility of the luxury travellers and through the usage of the social media tolls and strategies it’s became easy to understand the business approach and seeking to reach out to this high-end market segment.
Objectives of the Study
The major goal of this study is to find out the impact of social media marketing on the lucrative luxury travel business. The other purpose is to see if social media is being used to meet client satisfaction goals as well. The secondary goal is to research and develop tactics that will aid luxury tourism in building effective marketing strategies using social media tools and techniques.
Scope of the Study
With the capacity to promote economic growth and create jobs, the luxury tourism sector is seen as a critical component of many countries’ National Development Plans. Continuous efforts to promote the tourism industry are essential in order for it to remain competitive and contribute to the well-being of the people. The study’s purpose is to get a deep understanding of the utilisation of the social media to promote luxury tourism, which will aid marketers in making better decisions and legislators in formulating better legislation. The use of social media in the promotion of luxury tourism benefits both the promoters and the travellers. The study investigates the usefulness of the social media in marketing the luxury travel industry. Another topic for future research is why luxury travellers are afraid to utilise social media? What makes them appear to be overly reliant on cognitive media? This may need an in-depth study into the world of luxury travellers in order to understand their travel and online community activity channels. A study like this might be valuable for luxury firms wanting to improve their communication across numerous platforms.
An integrated literature review is a one-of-a-kind methodological tool that allows the construction of new forms by methodically studying relevant information (Chermack & Passmore, 2005; Torraco, 2005, 2016; Wood et al., 2020a). This integrated literature review successfully describes and assesses a specific genre of current literature (Chermack & Passmore, 2005; Wood et al., 2020b). This strategy can give new dimensions to the research that have produced a range of critical findings (Torraco, 2005, 2016). Considering only the genuine publications from the literature review, we followed Torraco’s (2005, 2016) earlier recommendations. To do so successfully, we employed Callahan’s six key criteria for conducting an integrated literature review (Callahan, 2010; Wood et al., 2020a): (a) From what sources (databases, for example) did the articles come? (b) When searching the database, how long did it take you? (c) Who was the investigator in charge of the case? (d) How did the articles find their way to their final destination? (e) How many papers were found and how many articles were chosen for the study? (f) Why were the studies chosen?
Between July and August 2020, the first article search was conducted on the online library platform, especially the ProQuest and JSTOR databases. In context to the luxury tourism, social media marketing and the impact of sustainability are the most understudied topics. To surpass this issue, a thorough research was done in Google Scholar, and various related articles were studied to expand the collection. The search included phrases such as ‘luxury tourism’, ‘elite travel’, ‘social media’ and ‘sustainability’. These keywords were chosen because they are interchangeable with industrial practice and are highly familiar with the topic related to the tourist literature. Only titles, abstracts or keywords were considered to ensure that the publications covered the essential key phrases. After a thorough database search, the total number of the published research articles that were studied was 4,769.
The published research articles were considered during the time frame of March 2010 to March 2020. The research was done on an initial keyword research basis to check that there was plenty of study on this issue. Luxury tourism, like luxury goods, had to decide whether to enter the web business to increase the engagement ratio of clients and to do the market segment analysis for the valued personalised services, in-house shopping and one-of-a-kind experiences. Many top-tier luxury tourism brands have digitalised their services and many luxury tourism industries is adopting revolution, in designing their home webpages for chatter planes, premium boats, and trademarked luxury resorts (Sotiriadou et al., 2014).
Findings and Analysis
With respect to the luxury tourism sector, the long-term viability has enormously increased the engagement of customers focused on the emergence of the penetration of social media in the luxury tourism sector. An in-depth study was conducted to explore the key findings on this topic. We also included theoretical notions to analyse the problems of using social media from the perspective of luxury tourism. An evaluation was also conducted on the key identical practices of the industry.
NVivo software was used for data analysis. The software can be best used for limited sample size than any other data analysis tool. The best part of the NVivo software is to focus on word count of every single theme (Blal & Sturman, 2014). The frequency of the word used and the word count was represented in the table which was done by NVivo software. It highlights on the importance of the social media platform that can be effectively used to persuade the users towards the luxury tourism industry.
The usage of social media has been growing prominently, and it can be considered as a key tool in positioning the luxury tourism industry companies in the minds of the customers in recent years. A review of this literature shows the various ways in which social media has been utilised as an important promoting tool for luxury tourism enterprises. Electronic word-of-mouth (e-WOM), particularly through social media reviews, has emerged as a critical income and push and pull sales source, with the studies confirming the relevance of comments and likeliness of the customers in this respect. Leung et al. (2017) evaluated numerous market sectors utilising a review system divided into block (total number of reviews received about a hotel) and valence (importance of reviews; the ratings in received reviews). The research observed that the review system and valence has a strong affinity on the revenue received in the luxury hotel, whereas quantity of reviews had a larger impact on lower and medium-range hotel revenue.
Amelia and Hidayatullah (2020) investigated the influence of diverse communication approaches in prior studies on social media efficacy on various categories of luxury hotels such as premium, upscale, luxury, upper upscale, midscale, upper midscale and economy. According to their study, determining the Facebook message typology approach included two components, focused with both ‘what to say’ and ‘how to say it’. In addition to that, the studies about various hotels of all sizes included Facebook as a marketing tool in many ways. Facebook was majorly used by luxury hotels to develop their brand. Xiang et al. (2017) presented a study on the influence of Instagram activity on purchase intent and perceptions of premium value in high-end hotel restaurants. This study found that utilising social media in this regard has a huge effect both on a consumer’s desire to dine at the restaurant and their perception of premium value. Such impacts demonstrate social media’s ability to boost the service performance. The usage of social media and the big data analytics is increasingly important for managing luxury tourism enterprises in the luxury tourism sector. To gain a better understanding of customer perceptions, researchers examined luxury hotels’ social media interactions. In this regard, Abrahams et al. (2015) investigated the use of social media by six high-end London hotels (United Kingdom). Their findings, achieved with Wolfram Mathematica software, showed that big data analytics and machine learning techniques can help luxury hotel management to monitor the impact of social media on a regular basis. Another study (Abrahams et al., 2015) considered the usage of the social media analytics procedure, which was identified in previous studies (Aydin, 2020; Fan & Gordon, 2014) to see if there are any differences in customer ratings between the Tripadvisor, Expedia and Yelp platforms, as well as to examine the relationship between a customer and a company.
Abrahams et al. (2015) showed that the content and structure of online review data acquired from different platforms may differ greatly using a regression analysis and text analytics approach. More crucially, their work advances the usage of social media analytics by proposing that research which gathers data majorly from online websites should highlight the characteristics and possible biasedness that exists in social media data.
In Table 1, we have summarised the reviewed articles, and a description of the social media platforms have been provided to have an idea about luxury travellers’ characteristics. Several platforms that are used are Facebook, Instagram, Tripadvisor, Yelp, etc. Some social network media sites were also taken into account. To facilitate direct engagement with luxury travellers, travel supplier websites have been picked from these media networks. With regards to (Tiago et al., 2018). Interaction with social media sites of hotel and websites providing multimedia content are found likely to improve engagement. Where story narratives are present, it has been found that the appeal to luxury passengers is substantially bigger (Cervellon & Galipienzo, 2015).
Table 1. Gist of Research Findings Found in Literature 2010–2020.
To have an idea about social media’s impact to influence judgements on the basis of a hospitality service provider, Liu et al. (2019) evaluated the response to Facebook postings created by a premium hotel to determine the priority of emotional or intelligence appeal. According to the findings, an informed appeal outperforms an emotional appeal in terms of improving consumer sentiments towards the hotel and raising quality perceptions. Social media, on the other hand, had no bearing on a customer’s decision to reside in a premium hotel and like it via social media apps like Facebook. Dieck et al. (2017) investigated about the reason and circumstances leading to a positive experience of tourists’ that could pique the millennial consumers’ interest in visiting a location using social comparison theory. Social media apps are also often used to retain customers. According to Heinze et al. (2016), five factors impact luxury hotel clients’ usage of social media networks, namely, social influence, enjoyment, accessibility, perceived advantages and trust. They also observed that, although being qualitatively suggested, pleasure had minimal impact on luxury hotel customers’ propensity to use social media in the future. Creating a sense of client loyalty is a crucial part of customer retention. The relevance of social media platforms in allowing and increasing loyalty of the customer in the context of premium cruise operators was proved by Ryschka et al. (2016). Furthermore, they indicated that cruise operators must ensure that they exchange authentic messages on social media. The messages should be customised, open, and honest in order to fulfil future-oriented goals. Perception has a significant impact on customer loyalty and retention.
Kucukusta et al. (2019) took a fresh look at this problem by investing the impact of social media on managing reputation of a company during a crisis. Their findings revealed that the frequency of people’s response on social websites, knowledge about brands and the respondent’s traditional values impacted the feelings of people about the reputation of a luxury cruise after a disaster. According to another study, social media may be used to achieve corporate social responsibility (CSR) goals. According to a study of Facebook postings, CSR-related posts are less prevalent than marketing-oriented posts while having similar levels of popularity and engagement (Yoo & Lee, 2015). Furthermore, the CSR-related postings with the most customer interaction were those that aim to encourage CSR initiatives. Cervellon and Galipienzo (2015) evaluated social media involvement on luxury cruise liners as part of their research. According to their results, for achievement of a business strategy with regards to the content orientation, the organisations must work on a social media strategy, thereby enhancing multimedia content across various websites. In spite of social media’s augmented popularity in the premium tourist business, some travel companies are still in the preliminary stages of adopting the social media. Ponte et al. (2015) explored the usage of social media in marketing historic tourist businesses from the perspective of luxury tourism. They discovered that most heritage listed hotels in the United States focus on supplying textual information about their history rather than producing a varied assortment of pleasant stuff for Facebook clients by analysing Facebook posts from these hotels. Premium hotels of Spain that utilise Facebook as a medium of communication, according to Feroz and Wood (2017), focus only on their customers, neglecting other essential actors in the hotel sector. To put it another way, hotels use social media to share information related to markets. One additional problem is the urge to look for several tactics with regards to social media for various demographics, which have been targeted, particularly to fulfil the demands of young and lady clients (Cervellon & Galipienzo, 2015). A social media presence can affect customers’ purchasing decisions and customer connections, providing luxury tourism providers with long-term competitive advantages (Ponte et al., 2015; Shin & Back, 2020). Given these considerations, augmenting the quality of tourism firms’ in the context of social websites for the engagement of potential customers is a significant challenge.
According to a survey of the literature, the luxury tourism area employs three types of methodological techniques: mixed approach methods, analysis of the content and, the most common, quantitative method. There are several examples from a quantitative approach. Xiang et al. (2017) investigated the relationship between Instagram engagement, luxury value perception and purchase intent in the context of luxury eating. Ryschka et al. (2016) employed interviews and online surveys to evaluate an expanded technology acceptance model (TAM) that includes satisfaction and long-term user intention. Finally, content analysis is a popular research method in social media studies. Researchers checked examined text data from passengers’ social media posts on sites, like Facebook in this respect (Liu et al., 2019; Ponte et al., 2015). Giglio et al. (2020) investigated upon Tripadvisor’s 7,395 pictures and have found that Various works have made use of visual data to show the significance of analysis in the context of big data, in building strategies towards management of luxury brands. Furthermore, Dolan et al. (2019) revealed that the notion of luxury may be obtained from images of vacationers hanging around casually, where spending of time is an indication of an affluent way of living. While information may be accessed on Facebook, emotional messages are typically off-putting to premium visitors and have smaller impact on the choices of visiting a certain destination (Liu et al., 2019). Promotional materials are sometimes filled with emotive elements that may detract from an attraction’s appeal to high-end visitors (Amelia & Hidayatullah, 2020). It may have an impact if the number of reviews on the hotel website is small, but as the number of reviews becomes larger, its influence reduces (Leung et al., 2017).
Figure 1 depicts three types of social media postings, each of which serves a distinct purpose in the adoption of social media by luxury travellers and the subsequent success of the posts. User engagement is strong when suppliers publish on social media (e.g., hotel posts on Facebook). As a result, they are thought to provide incredibly useful information. Messages like this, on the other hand, inspire no emotional response. Photographs impact the travellers on social media and can have a direct influence on customer’s affinity towards premium brands and possibly trigger a positive response. Hence, we can conclude that narrative pieces bring more success in comparison to marketing and reviews (Amelia & Hidayatullah, 2020; Rosenfeld, 2020).
Many of the studies that have been conducted so far support the industry’s belief that premium visitors do not depend on social websites. Figure 1, according to our research, provides two major characteristics of social media that are critical in getting an idea about luxury tourists. To begin with, luxury visitors rely heavily on social media for information (Liu et al., 2019). Second, although it was not addressed in this study, it is reasonable to presume that luxury travellers have their own social media network apart from mainstream social media. In this regard, an exciting research indicates that rather than the consumers themselves, celebrities, bloggers and cruise liners or agents are the top contributors in tweets about cruise ships, supplying information or propagating alluring destination postings (Park et al., 2016). Another important notion to consider when it comes to luxury travellers is that they may or may not desire to continue utilising social media programmes (Heinze et al., 2016). Luxury travellers are known for relying significantly on personal relationships with travel agents and consultants to organise their trips (Thirumaran & Raghav, 2017). As part of our literature research, we searched for relevant topics and favourable trends for luxury travel companies. The most commonly used terms in the abstracts are shown in Table 2 in the word frequency list.
In many aspects of luxury tourism, social media is becoming increasingly important, especially when it comes to gathering information, making choices and promoting tourism, with a focus on the finest applications for communicating with clients via social media platforms. The rise of social media has had an impact on luxury tourism and hospitality research, in addition to its implications on tourist consumer behaviour. The social media strategy assists in the implementation and marketing of well-known strategies, as well as providing market and consumer insights that are used to build and adapt the organisation’s business plan. Tourists have discovered that, compared to other tools, social media is an essential tool for them when choosing a vacation destination, ordering food and beverages, and shopping.
Figure 1. Social Media Responses on the Acceptance by Luxury Travellers.
Table 2. Frequency of Significant Words.
Despite this, a review of the research offers industry practitioners with clear guidelines for participation. Quick replies to enquiries, informative presentations and eye-catching photography are all excellent methods to promote the products or services and to engage the customers. In certain circumstances, social media updates can influence client purchase intent via improving customer contact. Luxury tourism providers, on the other hand, should develop strategies that make full use of the advantages of other forms of rich content, such as movies. In terms of luxury travel, it is found that the mostly used source of information dissemination is social media in contrary to the different social networks and having dialogues. Because luxury visitors are unique, their approaches of handling the social media sites are a bit different than the general tourists and different segment of the tourism markets. Luxury travel agencies should be more focused about this, and they should prepare the strategy of professionally interacting via different channels. Because of this scenario, the luxury tourism industry should be proactive in handling the social media and responding quickly to errors or misinformation. At the same time, users are becoming more used to the Internet’s encryption and personalised services. The tourist destination industry has been updated thanks to the Internet’s contributions, as it can be utilised as a distribution channel and a source of information, and visitors’ shared information, evaluations and suggestions assist to attract and reach new consumers from all over the world. Social media has both positive and negative influence on communication depending on the research topic and the mode of contact. Social media demands the integration of all marketing methods as well as the use of persuasive advertising that marketers can understand in order to create a competitive product/service experience. Where e-WOM is critical, this new communication channel maximises customer engagement.
Concluding Remarks and Future Research Opportunities
This article looked into the intersection in context of sustainability, luxury travel and some of the popular social media. The importance of the usage of social media in luxury tourism has received very little research. Given this gap, the research had found out a variety of contributions to the luxury tourism sector’s long-term survival. This extensive review of the literature revealed a number of remarkable results. The findings were categorised into three broad segments: (a) the importance of social media in context to the luxury tourism; (b) the behavioural features of luxury tourists while using the social media sites; and (c) the technique utilised during previous studies. The first group comprises the majority of the articles.
Overall, our findings show that the way social media is presented has a substantial influence on the luxury travel industry’s long-term viability. Social media posts are seen as a good source of information for travellers. Furthermore, luxury travellers prefer factual content to emotional content. Our word cloud demonstrated that luxury tourists utilise social media platforms, but the link to sustainability may be secondary to the information provided or the anticipation of receiving a prompt response to a query (Kucukusta et al., 2019; Yoo & Lee, 2015).
The advantages of doing research using mainstream social media include the ability to determine the way for a platform focused to educate the luxury adventurous travellers, although they have less knowledge or the accessibility to use the social media sites to gather the information. This information is critical since it directs practitioners in the proper direction if they want to break into the luxury market and continue in business. They need to be more focused on the recent and most popular social networking sites. This research has clearly highlighted the sustainability of the tourism and suggests that informative rather than promotional sustainability marketing is more effective. Some of the major limitation of our study is to understand the relationship between luxury travellers and sustainability features in a more exclusive market that typically operates in a community that is less accessible to academics.
Despite this, a review of the research offers industry practitioners with clear guidelines for participation. Quick replies to enquiries, informative presentations and eye-catching photos are all excellent methods to keep customers more engaged about the travel package. In certain circumstances, social media updates can influence customer purchase intent by improving customer engagement (Amelia & Hidayatullah, 2020; Giglio et al., 2020). Luxury tourism providers, on the other hand, should develop strategies that make full use of the advantages of other sorts of rich content, such as movies. In terms of luxury travel, the research found that social media is mostly used as a source of information rather than a platform for forming social networks and having dialogues. Because luxury travellers are different, their interactions with social media platforms differ from those of other tourism industry segments. Because of the excessive usage of the social media sites by the tourists, service providers must be proactive on the popular social media platforms at all times in order to respond quickly to errors or misinformation (Abrahams et al., 2015). Another finding is that luxury tourism firms are enormously increasing the usage of social media to market their CSR initiatives, allowing them to engage with all stakeholders (Yoo & Lee, 2015). Finally, the research findings highlighted that huge budget should not be allocated to do the promotion in the luxury tourism industry as the tourists are not that much inclined or dependent about the information search as the content provided by the service provider may be irrelevant or not reliable which may not be received by the tourists (Tiago et al., 2018).
First, can the popular social media provide an acceptable outlet for luxury travellers to make their judgements, provided they will seek advice from the service provider for their tour details Second, will the study be able to penetrate the barriers within the social media networks to get better clarifications to judge the appealing aspects for luxury travelers Third, in-depth analysis may perhaps have the impact on the sustainable existence and to gain a better understanding of luxury visitors’ viewpoints on travel-related environmental concerns.
Our findings revealed the critical need to investigate the interaction within the luxury tourism industry and the further intervention of social media. Some of the premium social media sites such as the Facebook, Instagram and Twitter appeal to a broad range of people who use this platform to gather information. The websites built for businesses such as the luxury hotels and travelling partners extended a space for feedback and suggestions where the audience can get a clear-cut idea of the product and services rendered by the companies. There has not been any research comparing the directness of the three kinds of communication or the types of feelings conveyed. This type of research might be useful for premium brands that are seeking to strengthen their communication across several media.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The authors declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship and/or publication of this article.
The authors received no financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article.
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|Frequency:||Jan & Jul|