THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN TOURISM BUSINESS INTERNET MARKETING STRATEGY (CASE STUDY TOURISM AUTHORITY OF THAILAND (TAT) IN “AMAZING THAILAND” TOURISM CAMPAIGN

Abstraction

Since 2008, the growth rate for social media marketing spending has surpassed search, display, email and television marketing. Facebook, as one of social media tools has motto, open and connected, also provides facilitation for business connection with consumers. The point of the Facebook marketing platform is Facebook Pages. this paper is written focus on the implementation of the campaign “Amazing Thailand” by TAT through social media and the effect of the implementation. The writer also wants to propose the possibility of the campaign “Amazing Thailand” if it is implemented in Indonesia.

INTRODUCTION

By the internet, all information people want to get will be easier because the internet provides information in real time and rapid access. The changes of the internet trend always occur in time to time especially how people not to get the information but also to interact with other people. The utility to interact with other people by using digital media is called by social network, then, the strategy for broadcasting is called social media (Cohen, 2009; Stelzner, 2009).[1] Social networks have evolved over the years to the modern-day variety which uses digital media. However, the social media isn’t that new. Through the use of social media, people can exchange photos and videos, shares news stories, post their thoughts on blogs, and participate in online discussion. According to Dewing, (2012), social media also allow individuals, companies, organizations, government, and parliamentarians to interact with large number of people.[2]

Social media, nowadays, brings some benefits for many sectors if life. In the business sectors for example social media will help strengthen the brand experience which will support brand building (Edosomwan, et. al, 2011).[3] If it implemented in the government sector, social media will help the government build a good reputation for its country. By building good reputation of its country it helps to reinforce the brand in the minds of the citizen; the brand includes: tourism sector, local products, attitudes and behavior, culture and many more.

Social media influenced by social networking is pressing suppliers and buyers who value more and more the opinions, reviews and referrals of fellow travelers (Miguéns, Baggio, & Costa, 2008).[4] Social networking by social media Internet broadly usage is in tourism sector to plan their holiday trip; holiday destination, convenience hotel to stay, to which culinary they want to visit. Mostly, they get recommendation from fellow media social or social network user. It is no surprise then to find out that travel and tourism related topics are among the most popular issues in this environment.

Tourism lover often use online tourism service from TripAdvisor to get information about attractive tourism destination. TripAdvisor is a website based on the idea that travelers rely on other travelers’ reviews to plan their trips, or at least can be satisfactorily helped in their decisions by them. These websites allow users to interact and provide reviews on hotels or on local tourist attractions. Some examples of these websites are TravBuddy.com, Travellerspoint, WAYN, Woophy, Passportstamp, and TripAdvisor.com. The latter is probably the largest travel community on the Web. It was founded in 2000 and currently covers 212 000 hotels, over 30 000 destinations, and 74 000 attractions worldwide. Presently TripAdvisor contains 10 million travel reviews and opinions and written by 5 million registered members and counts 25 million visitors per month.[5]

Travel networking websites users do not have pre-existing associations. Their only connections are the discussion forums and the reviews and ratings generated by other users. TripAdvisor, as said, is a website where most information posted is autonomously generated by its users. They post reviews, comments and ratings on a destination, a hotel, an attraction or any other tourism related ‘object’ or service. Furthermore, it is possible to add multimedia elements (photos and videos) or travel maps of previous trips or take part in discussion forums, web-based applications that allow users to post some material and discuss some specific topic. The forum’s authors need to be registered; this entitles them to create a profile containing basic data (nickname, residence etc.).

TripAdvisor is one of example of social media marketing in tourism. Marketing strategy by social media is helpful to build tourism’s brand in the country. Marketing is a subject of vital concern in travel and tourism because it is the principal management influence that can be brought to bear on the size and behavior of this major global market. The users can promote some tourism destinations by giving comments or ‘asking-answering’ in the forum and help the reader decide to go the destination.

Tourism is also of interest because of the millions of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) it sustains and its global nature, there are now very few regions of the modern world where tourism is not a relevant consideration (Middleton, 2009).[6] Online social media is important tool to promote the tourism as a whole practically and rapidly. The Tourism Authority of Thailand is viewing the Net, and social networking sites in particular, as a marketing tool.

Thailand has become one of the world’s favorite destinations. The “Land of Smiles,” as it has become known internationally, as a benchmark of its tourism brand. Thailand is a highly successful tourism destination because it continually welcomes new visitors and draws back returning travelers from around the globe. Unfortunately, on August, 17th, 2015, Thai capital Bangkok was hit by an explosion that killed 20 including 14 foreigners. The incident was happened in the one of Thai destination place that caused tourist arrivals into country have fallen from 85,000 a day to 70,000. Thailand’s tourist industry has been dealt a huge blow after the country’s worst-ever bombing caused a 17 per cent fall in visitor numbers.[7]

Thailand, since 2007, established Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) as a tourism marketing media. TAT has focused on promoting Thailand as a diverse, high quality destination that offers rewarding and unforgettable experiences. The Tourism Authority of Thailand expects close to 20 million arrivals in 2012—a number that has nearly doubled over the past decade—bringing in about 765 billion baht (US$25.5 billion), or more than 6.5% of the nation’s GDP.[8] The TAT has been implementing our marketing policies by focusing on digital marketing and social media to promote the positive image of Thailand and foster the strength of the Thai tourism industry.

By the bombing incident on August, 2015, TAT has a big responsibility to bring back Thailand tourism in good image. A few countries, such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Slovakia, issued level 4 travel alerts advising people not to visit Thailand unless it was totally necessary. However, most countries only issued level 1-3 alerts advising their citizens to take adequate safety measures when visiting Thailand. Therefore, TAT implemented several campaigns to promote Thailand and bring back the tourism of Thailand in normal condition, such as the campaign “Amazing Thailand” through social media.

From the background above, this paper is written focus on the implementation of the campaign “Amazing Thailand” by TAT through social media and the effect of the implementation. The writer also wants to propose the possibility of the campaign “Amazing Thailand” if it is implemented in Indonesia.

PROBLEM FORMULATION

  1. How is the implementation of the campaign “Amazing Thailand” through social media?
  2. What is the impact of the implementation of the campaign “Amazing Thailand” through social media?
  3. Does the success of the campaign “Amazing Thailand” could be implemented by the Department of Tourism Indonesia?

THEORITICAL LITERATURE

1. Social Media

Social media emerges from the rapid of development of both technology and the skills. Social media until now continues to change at a rapid rate, as new websites and online content appear each day. As Jacka and Scott (2011) argue, ‘there is no single recognized definition of social media.’ For many people, well-known social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter typify social media. The sites have become enormously popular across demographics of race, age and gender, and have hundreds of millions of users.[9]

Boyd & Ellison (2008) defined social network sites as web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system. The nature and terminology of these connections may vary from site to site. [10]

Jacka and Scott (2011) contend that it ‘can be said that social media is the set of Webbased broadcast technologies that enable the democratization of content, giving people the ability to emerge from consumers of content to publishers’. The Oxford Dictionary (2015) defines social media as ‘websites and applications used for social networking’. In turn, social networking is defined as ‘the use of dedicated websites and applications to communicate with other users, or to find people with similar interests to one’s own’.[11] For many this will intuitively make sense, based on their personal experience, the experience of others around them, or what they have heard or seen in the media. However, social media have evolved to include other tools and practices that were not conceived of only a few years or even a few months ago.

The Social Media Guide website (2011) has listed some 50 definitions that it says it has collected from various other websites. In its terms, ‘social media is user generated content that is shared over the internet via technologies that promote engagement, sharing and collaboration.’ Kaplan and Haenlein contend that social media as we know it today can probably be traced back more than two decades. While it was unsophisticated by today’s standards, users could post public messages on sites such as Usenet. Not surprisingly, the advent and availability of high-speed internet access has led to a proliferation of sites and an explosion in their popularity (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010). Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) developed their own technical definition of social media:[12]

‘Social Media is a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of User Generated Content.’

Many social networking sites were created in the 1990s. Some examples include Six Degrees, BlackPlanet, Asian Avenue, and MoveOn. These are, or have been, online niche social sites where people can interact, including sites for public policy advocacy and a social network based on a web of contacts model. In addition, blogging services such as Blogger and Epinions were created. Epinions is a site where consumers can read or create reviews of products. ThirdVoice and Napster were two software applications created in the 90s that have since been removed from the market. ThirdVoice was a free plug-in that allowed users to post comments on webpages. Opponents of the software argued that comments were often vulgar or slanderous. Napster was a software application that allowed peer-to-peer file sharing. Users were allowed to share music files bypassing normal distribution methods, which in the end was determined to be a violation of copyright laws (Ritholz, 2010).[13]

In 2000 social media received a great boost with the witnessing of many social networking sites springing up. This highly boosted and transformed the interaction of individuals and organizations who share common interest in music, education, movies, and friendship, based on social networking. Among those that were launched included LunarStorm, six degrees, cyworld, ryze, and Wikipedia. In 2001, fotolog, sky blog and Friendster were launched, and in 2003, MySpace, LinkedIn, lastFM, tribe.net, Hi5 etc. In 2004, popular names like Facebook Harvard, Dogster and Mixi evolved. During 2005, big names like Yahoo!360, YouTube, cyword, and Black planet all emerged (Junco, Heibergert, & Loken, 2011).[14]

Social media such as Facebook, blogs, YouTube have become major sources of hiring. LinkedIn is another similar source used by recruiters, and about 80 percent of companies use it for the recruiting process. Social media has also become one of the easiest ways to improve productivity and to generate a natural interest in the work carried out by the employees. Using these media, companies can track employee’s creativity and enthusiasm.

Social media helps conversations to reach a wider audience leveraging the “long tail” concept, which means conversations that can be conveyed to different forums. There are several communication channels in an organization that include meetings, phone calls, and emails. These communication channels have their own limitations such as forgetting a message, missing to take notes during a meeting, and searching for information in a huge list of emails which can be challenging. Use of social media web sites has increased the channels of communication and its effectiveness in the organization. Now people need not waste their time as it has become easy for a person to send messages through an instant messenger or a tweet and get the response really quick.

Social media forum acts as a powerful way to communicate the brand value and brand attribute as they facilitate open forms of communication. Social media is best for the following situations:[15]

  1. Promote open communication between employees and management.
  2. Enable employees to share project ideas and work in teams effectively, which help in sharing knowledge and experiences.
  3. Social media also promotes better content, such as webcast and videos, than just simple text.
  4. Helps to communicate collaboratively between current and potential customers, in receiving feedback, product definition, product development, or any forms of customer service and support.
  5. Encourage members, or part of the company’s employees, to become members of a well-recognized community.
  6. Social media becomes a good venue for discussions and becomes a classic goal of marketing and communications, but the companies must ensure that the employees are adhering to the rules and etiquettes of social media.

2. Internet Marketing Strategy

Middleton (2009) defined marketing is a process through which individuals and groups provide, exchange and obtain products – ideas, goods and services – capable of satisfying customers’ needs and desires at a desirable price and place. Marketing requires a strategy. It is an all-encompassing, planning, scheduling, studying, figuring-stuff-out, researching, testing, and practicing strategy.

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