There are challenges for the travel industry when taking their brands social. It’s not the lack of tools but the creation of the relationship between online, mobile, and actual physical locations that will meet and exceed the customer’s expectations. Instant access to everything has created customers who are very demanding. I’m one of them. I have instant access to information and recommendations on Twitter, Facebook, forums, etc. If I ask questions from someone in the travel industry, I expect a quick response and I expect it to be good.
Using social media is a game changer for travel planners. They are used to picking up the phone and making a sale. It doesn’t work that way with social media. The target audience is a bit bigger than one person on the phone. However, the good side of an audience on social media is that they can be very loyal and very engaged. BUT, you have to work to keep that audience engaged and loyal. And the goal is to not only keep that particular audience engaged and loyal but their audience and so on.
The creation of the relationship that travelers get when they are face-to-face talking to someone is what needs to be created in social media. Word-of-mouth recommendations still go further than any other form of information. Create a relationship with your clients so they take your recommendations as something similar to a word-of-mouth recommendation.
A good travel planner can also build a relationship with its audience by writing reviews. Any good travel planner takes trips themselves. That way they can give personal recommendations to their clients. Travelers are reading reviews. Starting writing travel reviews and using social media to promote them.
The key to having your brand social is to be vigilant. Travel planners are up against travel apps and the idea that they aren’t needed anymore. I’m sure we’ve all thought at one point in time while looking at trip information, “I don’t need a travel agent, I can find a better/cheaper price online myself.” But what people don’t realize is that travel agencies have access to a multitude of databases giving them the opportunity to compare prices and look for the best deal. Travel companies need to be vigilant in their education of consumers. Let people know what you’re doing. It goes back to a company being transparent to their employees and the public. Same thing goes for travel companies. Let the public know what you have access to so you can promote your business. It builds loyalty among your followers.
Bar graphs from research conducted by SDL Global Customer Experience Management in The Modern Traveler: A Look at Customer Engagement in the Travel Industry.