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Report: Social Media

Linda Humphrey offers some insight on how to engage travelers without getting derailed by social media burnout

 

The prospect of social media can be quite intimidating to businesses looking to keep up with the latest trends. Things change and develop at such a rapid pace, that one is often left with more questions than solutions.

Go mobile
One of the biggest springboards for social media is the advance of mobile technology. Facebook “has done a complete pivot to mobile,” says Phocuswright senior technology analyst Norm Rose. “They’re actually reaping their major advertising dollars from mobile at this point.” Messaging on mobile platforms isn’t necessarily a shift in channel, adds Rose, who is also the president of Travel Tech Consulting, in San Francisco. Rather, it’s just another platform. “Travel agents need to adapt,” Rose says. “We are connected constantly, and agents need to be in a continuous conversation with the client, including in-destination. Keep in mind that pictures and videos are really the drivers now, rather than words. We’re seeing a lot more use of multimedia.”

Just tweet it
“Some of our most devoted followers on Twitter are travel agents,” says George Hobica, founder of airfarewatchdog.com. “I honestly believe that Twitter is the best place to go.” Agents retweet the airfare bargains that pop up to their followers, or contact clients directly, Hobica adds. “They’ll say, ‘Look, this is an amazing sale to Bali, or Tokyo for $398 from Los Angeles on Singapore Airlines. How how about staying at the Park Hyatt while you’re there?’” Once clients grab the flight deal, agents can add hotels and build out the rest of the trip.

Work smart, not hard
Sheena Young, strategic special projects manager at Valerie Wilson Travel in New York, notes that most travel management companies stick with Facebook and Instagram and “haven’t quite figured out Twitter.” As part of the social-media panel at ASTA’s Global Convention, Young fielded questions on “social media fails,” such as burnout and public complaints. Rather than clicking through multiple sites, Young suggests logging onto Hootsuite. “I can schedule status updates on one website versus going on many different social media platforms.” The site allows users to cater the content to each social network, so that clients on multiple platforms won’t see the same post twice. Young also advises making posts personal. “People want the stuff that they can’t Google,” Young says. Show clients that you’re traveling the world and give them insights picked up on your trips. Post tips from the general manager of your preferred hotel. List the top five dishes at your preferred hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant.

Taking the bad with the good
At some point, a client will probably take to Facebook or Twitter to gripe about a vacation gone wrong. “If they post a complaint publicly, you should respond publicly,” says Young, even though an agency may not need to go into detail publicly. Post something like, “Thank you for sharing your opinion. We would like to talk to you privately about this.” Most people just want to be listened to, Young says. They want compassion. “Sometimes it’s just about listening and responding, as a human, as soon as possible.”

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