For better or worse, the travel industry is HUGELY affected by social media. On one hand… positive news/recommendations travel faster & farther than ever before. On the other hand…negative info does too
The Good News Travel is one of the most social purchases someone can make. Friend recommendations matter immensely. Travel is inherently social. Travelers have long asked friends for hotel & restaurant recommendations, and shared thoughts afterwards. (NYTimes)
So many deeply personal & emotional experiences are linked to travel And people want to share those experiences with their friends.
The Power of the Trusted Referral Friends ask one another for suggestions related to travel all the time. -- best vineyards -- 3am London activities when jet lagged -- one day best-of-Barcelona itinerary -- friendly airlines for travel with infant (now that I'm THAT PERSON on flights)
Go out of your way to provide an awesome experience to these digital influencers
Tip #2) Timely contests & promotions Facebook allows businesses to quickly & economically reach a large audience. American Airlines' Facebook page grew from 2,600 -> 210,000 in 2 days with their "Mystery Miles Journey" promotion. Fans earned 100 to 100,000 miles by entering their Aadvantage # on the Page.
Tip #3) Include & Feature Your Fans Fairmont Hotels put flip cams on all properties If you want people to promote you…promote them! Reward your brand ambassadors with attention. The New Yorker Hotel shows appreciation to guests who post a nice video or photo of their stay on Facebook, by featuring them on the company blog.
Feature Employees Too! (Give the Real, Inside Story) Sometimes the best way to show your awesomeness, is by turning the spotlight on your employees! Empower them to give a little behind-the- scenes scoop we wouldnt normally know about. Needs to feel real and authentic.
Tip #4) Track Keywords & Analytics Search key words for your city/big events in your city ("I'm heading to Austin for SXSW) Respond with deals, recs & target w/ads. Facebook analytics show info about people who Like your Page, time of day for most engagement & actions that spur more Likes If you have a global audience on Facebook, target updates by geo and post in multiple time zones & languages.
Tip #5) Stay timely and relevant VisitBritains objective: Use interest around Royal Wedding to engage prospective travelers on Facebook. LoveUK Facebook Page posted interesting & timely content about the wedding & London. Gained 127,546 new fans (doubled their likes) Page viewed by 1.3 million + people.
Tip #8) Mobile This has been, and continues to be, one of the most disruptive & innovative areas for this industry, especially with mobile geolocation. Facebook Deals launched Nov 10. As part of the launch, guests at Palms Casino Resort could redeem deals (free night or room upgrade) by "checking in via mobile.
Tip #9) Post Engaging/Creative Content Hotel in Napa Valley? Post insider-y tidbits about wine or how to get a reservation at French Laundry. Boutique hotel here in Austin? Post a bat-cam or have a complete 3- day Austin itinerary in a tab on Page. San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau: Facebook page includes upcoming events & area attractions.
If you want these tips to work, you have to educate your whole staff Often, social media is done by one department… …but everyone from the doorman to the bartender to the CEO should know about it. The Roger Smith Hotel educated all staff on social media. One bartender grew his own following and posts, offering to buy drinks for the first patrons during his shift. Now its NYCs social media hotel and holds its own against huge competitors.
A Few Crowd Sourced Ideas **Link key card to Facebook account and anywhere you go within the hotel, swipe & auto-update Facebook. **Photo booths in the lobby/pool (high traffic areas) that auto-post to your hotels main Facebook Page. **Ability to send bottle of champagne to friends on their anniversary, with one click, directly from a status update! **Run a virtual concierge service through social media **If mom is leaving kids in your activity program, post updates & pics of the kids in a private Facebook group.
In Conclusion, I Imagine a World Where… **Book plane ticket & see pic of whos sitting near you/friends who live in that city **If flight is cancelled/delayed, airline contacts you through FB to tell you/rebook **You scan your airline ticket to board flight & update Facebook **At check in, hotel gives you a free drink & thank you note for liking their FB Page **Everywhere you go within the hotel, you have the option of checking in/updating **Friends who see your FB check-ins can, with 1 click, send gift to enhance travel experience. **Virtual concierge service makes recommendations based on likes & check ins by Friends **You post about your awesome experience & find yourself featured on the hotel Page/Blog!
Building strong relationships through social media is worthwhile financially, but you need to fully commit. Be authentic, involved & patient. These are long term relationships and dont happen overnight. Respect and trust is earned through word of mouth, over time.