15 Ways In Which Travel Companies Use Social Media
Social media is emerging as a revenue generating platform, that’s undeniable. The famous jargon “f-Commerce” is a great proof. By 2016, half of the travel industry will be using social media as a way of generating revenue and bookings. “Currently more than one-fifth (22 percent) use social media as a revenue generating tool with a further 27 percent planning to do so over the next five years” – says Robert Raunch in “Top 10 hospitality industry trends for 2012″. Last week, we described how airlines are innovatively using social media to increase their revenue, establish a personal connect with customers and improve customer satisfaction.
Lets discuss 15 ways in which travel companies (airliner, hotelier, cruise line, rail, bus, car, travel intermediary) use social media in their day to day operation.
Travel companies are using social media in one or more ways below:
1. Address customers issue: Customers post in social media about their trip dissatisfactions. This could be a flight delay, unfriendly air hostess, inflated cab bill, unclean hotel room etc. Travel companies use social media as a customer issue resolution medium. I have first hand experience in this – I posted about my Hongkong trip dissatisfaction on web and the travel management company immediately called me to discuss the issue.
3. As a Communication platform in times of crisis, emergency: Numerous examples can be quoted in this scenario. Let us discuss only one example. Remember the “Hudson river landing” by US Airways in 2009? When the flight captain Sullenberger landed the US Airways flight 1549 on hudson river due to an emergency, it was not the media companies that first published the news to the world. It was a common man in a nearby ferry who took a picture of the plane in his iPhone and uploaded into Twitter. Within 90 minutes of this incident, a Wikipedia page was created with 170 edits. Social media played a crucial role in this emergency.
5. Perform pre-boarding activities: Airlines allow their customers to perform all pre-boarding activities like baggage tag generation, selecting the seat, checking in online in Facebook itself.
8. Customer retention, engagement platform: Retaining existing customers are far more difficult than getting new ones. Social media aptly serves this need. Travel companies are creatively using social media to engage their customers. We have seen a destination management company running photography contests among its Facebook fans, a hotelier conducting polls on their concierge service, airliner engaging customers with innovative and engaging status messages, travel intermediaries refreshing the customers mind and inspiring them for their next trip with great destination pictures. Refer the KLM screens below.
9. Gather input from customers about new ideas, service likes / dislikes: Some travel companies are innovatively using social media to get inputs from customer on how they would like to see / use their new offering.
10.Sharing trip itinerary in social media: Nowadays, its a given that on any travel website you book your travel – in the booking confirmation page, they provide option to share your trip in social channels. Air New Zealand launched a “Share & Earn” program where customers who booked their premium economy seat ticket online can share their trip details in social media, when the customer’s friend makes a booking, then the customer receives $$s. Simple.
13. Location based services: There are many location based apps that offer customers a basket of benefits. Foursquare, a location based app that attracts a whopping 1 Billion check-ins everyday offers customers “Tips” about the place they check in, TopGuest app offers customer loyalty points for every check-in they make in Hotels. And, there are plenty of apps that give you information on deals / hotels / restaurants / gas stations around your location.
15. Innovative social apps to offer a differentiated customer experience: Another beauty of social media is the ability to build apps using their APIs. Its solely the creativity of the company in building a social app for travel. KLM launched a Facebook app that will integrate with the customer’s Facebook account, then the user can select a picture from his/her Facebook and print it on the baggage tag. This creates a personalized experience. Malaysia Airline launched a social app that shows Facebook friends who will be on the same flight as the customer, this helps the customer in picking a seat next to his/her friend.
Author: Karthick Prabu
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