The Impact of Social Media Marketing on Tourism

Lebanon’s area is ranked 170th in the world (CIA, 2014). It is smaller compared to size of Connecticut, one of the littlest states in America. Moreover, Lebanon is one of the few democratic countries in the Middle East region. Regarding its economy, Lebanon is a free market economy and has a very long tradition associated with laissez-faire economics. In addition to its seaside location on the Eastern Mediterranean coastline, Lebanon is considered as the central ‘window’ of the Middle East to European countries, North Africa, and the rest of the entire world. Because of this, its economy has gone through some very prosperous times and had been even once called the ‘Paris’ from the Middle East before the nation’s fifteen year-long bloody civil war which ended in 1990.
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Also, although Lebanon is tiny, it is also probably the most diverse nations in the world. Christians, Muslims, Druze, and other minority sects are spread all over the small nation and even Lebanon’s political system is based on sectarian power sharing.

However , this variety had played a pivotal function in the nation’s problems. This variety was a necessary condition of the country’s sectarian civil war and presently plays an important role in its politics paralysis, although other factors (mainly foreign) are to blame as well. There is presently no acting President and the nation’s rival political parties keep arguing and preventing rather than facilitating the country’s development.

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

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

Tourism plays a significant part in the nation’s economy. According to the Lebanese Ministry of Economy & Industry (MOET), “Tourism has long been one of Lebanon’s leading economic sectors” (Economic Study Unit, 2010).

Furthermore, The World Vacation & Tourism Council estimated that this travel & tourism sector within Lebanon contributed over $4 billion dollars in 2013 (World Vacation & Tourism Council, 2014).

The particular travel & tourism sector comprised about 10% of the economy this year 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 amount of tourist arrivals in the country kept reducing from 2011 to 2013.

Because the tourism industry has been somewhat floundering in the past few years, the room for error becomes very small for businesses in this industry. The political & economic situations are squeezing tourist-related (TR) businesses in Lebanon. This means that these businesses are forced to do more to make on with increasing losses (or decreasing profits) and with fewer resources. There is no telling when the political & economic situation within Lebanon will improve especially since the civil war in neighboring Syria displays no signs of abating.

There are many methods Lebanese TR businesses can adjust during these times such as implementing downsizing policies and cutting back on marketing & advertising budgets. When economic recessions and tough times affect businesses, the very first things to get eliminated are usually marketing budgets. But especially since TR businesses need to do more marketing for making up for lost businesses, this may not be advisable.

One solution to this problem is to take advantage of Social internet marketing strategies since they cost little in order 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, good effect of social media on business has been extremely high (Kaplan et ‘s., 2010; Stelzner, 2010; Treem and Leonardi, 2012, p. 143; Baker & Green, 2014).

Moreover, Fb and Twitter fans of a particular brand are much more likely to recommend and buy from these brands than non-fans (Cruz & Mendelsohn, 2011). But , we don’t need to make sure of social media’s impact on business through research studies. With regard to social media users, which include over 30% of the world, this fact is recognized. More and more businesses are inserting Social Media marketing equipment into their marketing strategies and, in some cases, have even become an integral part of their particular overall business strategy.

Naturally, one would expect that Lebanese businesses might quickly adopt Social Media Marketing as a crucial role in their overall marketing techniques but this is not the case. When it comes to the center East and especially Lebanon, the region is usually far behind the West within social media usage. Not only that, when it comes to businesses involved in the tourism industry, there is much room for growth. Little expenditure in technology is keeping tourist businesses away from maximizing marketing possibilities given by social media.

The Lebanese travel and leisure industry is not taking advantage of social media marketing strategies even though the advantages of doing so are obvious. This presents a great problem especially since the economy is going through an extremely rough time.

Moreover, Lebanese TR businesses and businesses in Lebanon in general are not adopting social media equipment as they should. This presents an enormous problem in the waste of assets as well as significant missed opportunities being a larger target audience can be reached through social media enabling businesses that follow social media marketing tools gain a better possibility of success and prosperity.

Purpose of the study

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

Also, as long as simply no study goes 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 has been numerous studies in the West about efficiently implementing social media marketing campaigns, the results of the studies may or may not apply to the Lebanese context. Therefore , it is also the purpose of this study to find out all those factors related to effectively implementing social internet marketing among Lebanese TR businesses.

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

Lebanese Tourist-Related (TR) companies fall far behind the created world investing and using SMM. Since there are many benefits of SMM, why is this so? Also, to cope up to the rest of the world, what is the best approach for Lebanese TR businesses in order to deploy an SMM campaign? So , it was the study’s purpose to get reasons linked to such low expense & use of SMM by Lebanese TR businesses and to help guide these businesses in effectively using SMM.

Methodology

The purpose of this study is two fold. This study aims to find out precisely what those factors are that are avoiding the widespread adoption of social internet marketing tools among Lebanese TR companies. The philosophy used is interpretivism, for an inductive approach to go from specific to general research, the strategy is ethnographic, and the strategy is qualitative. In-depth interviews are utilized with ten participants from ten different companies. Five companies got high social media ‘visibility’ and the additional five didn’t. So , the participants’ answers provided very useful information plus solutions for the research problem.

Findings

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

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