Travel Operators – To Tweet or Not To Tweet

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Travel Agents and Social Media
Travel operators big and small are making use of social media, and it’s no coincidence that everyone’s getting involved.

In fact, social media is proving to be one of the biggest influences on consumer holiday choices. Adobe recently predicted that during this year, ‘50% of sales will somehow be influenced by digital interactions’ in the travel sector.

Backed by such strong statistics, it’s no surprise that some of the biggest travel operators in the country are taking notice and are increasing their online presence. Each of the below listed operators know the importance of social media and each have accounts across a variety of platforms.

In fact, you only need to take a look at the graphs below to get a clear insight into how much travel operators truly value social media.

Graphs of social media usage amongst UK’s top 10 travel agencies, including :
Saga
Kuoni
First Choice
Virgin Holidays
P & O Cruises
Euro Camp
On the Beach Travel
Expedia
Travelzoo
Thompson

travel operators and social media

Bubble Chart – http://onlineventuresgroup.co.uk/reports/twitter/bubble-chart/?sector=travel

TwitterGraphs Travel Online Ventures Group

​Graphs – http://onlineventuresgroup.co.uk/reports/twitter/graphs/?sector=travel

Why Consumers Turn To Social Media
social media

How Social Media can Improve Your Customer Service

Social media has become one of the most important forms of customer communication in recent years, and this is especially true of the travel industry.

 

But just how can social media improve your customer service skills?

Social media can give your company a personality
Whatever content you post on your social media accounts will help to give your brand a personality. If you want to be formal and taken seriously, post content about news and industry developments. However, if you’re aiming to be more approachable – comedic content and using informal language will ensure customers relate to your brand, which is one of the most effective avenues any travel company can follow on social media.

It will help you to directly interact with customers
What better way to offer a great customer service than to actually interact with them online. Answering any queries, issues and resolving problems will help to promote your brand as a company that wants to help. And retweeting the occasional positive review will also help to solidify your travel brand as one that can be relied on.

It will increase online brand awareness
Posting regular useful content and directly communicating with customers will not only help increase the level of customer service you offer – it will also get people talking. And if people are talking positively about your brand, your great customer service will soon exceed itself. Word of mouth is just as important online as it is offline – so make sure you treat every customer with respect. You never know what kind of online influence they might hold.

 

How To and How Not To Respond – Travel Blunders/Bloomers

There are, of course, some companies who have responded badly to comments on social media. We all get negative reviews sometimes, simply because you can’t please everyone.  But there’s a certain way to deal with them, and ways to not deal with them too.

Take a look below at some of the biggest social media bloomers (and blunders), and ensure you learn what to do and what to not to do in these situations.

British Airways – The Blunder

british airways plane

Our travel blunder comes from the one and only British Airways. Although usually a revered airline to fly with, even a brand as big as this can sometimes have off days.

Just recently, one social media user took his complaint to brand new heights.

Instead of sending out a tweet that only his followers would see, the user was so upset with the services he had received from the airline that he actually paid Twitter to promote it to users across the globe.

BA tweet

The customer’s main problem was that his father’s luggage had gotten lost during his travels. The reach of the tweet hit 76,000 Twitter users, and BA failed to respond for eight hours because the tweet was posted outside of their regular customer service business hours.

Social media isn’t just a 9-5 trend. In fact, it’s probably used even more so outside of work hours. So with this in mind, it’s of vital importance that if you plan to carve a namesake for yourself on these platforms that you have the dedication required to effectively manage it – no matter what the time is.

LowCostHolidays.com – The Bloomer

paris2

There are, of course, also excellent examples of travel operators making incredibly effective use of social media too.

In this next example, LowCostHolidays prove they known exactly how to treat their customers.

The whole situation started when a man by the name of Thomas Cook, actually contacted the Thomas Cook travel company stating that he had been teased all his life for having the same name – and that they should offer him a free holiday because of this upset.

thomas cook

As you can see, Thomas Cook said no and instead directed Mr Cook towards their deals page.

But LowCostHolidays decided that this wasn’t enough.

They took their customer service to the next level and gave Mr Thomas Cook a weekend away in Paris (which is what he asked for), and even paid for a friend to go with him too.

low cost holidays

This is exactly the type of thing that will turn your business into a social media bloomer, so take note!

 

The Operator’s Perspective

But you don’t just have to take our word on the importance of social media for travel operators, because below you can hear it direct from the companies themselves.

We asked some of the UK’s leading travel operators the following:

What affect has social media had on your company as a whole?

How important do you think social media is for the modern travel operator and why?

And this is what they had to say.

 

Tanasè at On The Beach

onthebeach logo

“Customers are more accessible than ever before, however, in turn customers can access our brand more easily and (importantly) in a public forum. This has created advertising and engagement opportunities but also challenges for customer service and reputation.

We have restructured our social media management, giving Customer Service Advisors access to Facebook and Twitter to speak directly to customers and resolve their queries or issues as quickly as possible, in their preferred channel of contact.  

This is incredibly important to our customers, often on holiday at the time, who expect to speak to us on whichever channel they choose. Ensuring that they are looked after quickly and efficiently leaves a lasting brand impression and even if they perhaps initially had an issue, can turn them into advocates and drive repeat purchase.”

 

Rachel O’Reilly – Head of Communications at Kuoni

kuoni

What affect has social media had on your company as a whole?

“Travel is always something that people want to talk about and share. Where you’ve just been on holiday and where you’re going is a massive topic of conversation in daily life from friends in the pub to the hairdressers and social media just gives everyone a platform to make those conversations heard by much, much bigger groups of friends and followers. Social media has had a huge role to play on our organisation, not just as a way to inspire people about places to go, travel insight and news but also as an extension to our customer service. Our social channels allow us to talk directly to people who love travel and are interested in our brand.”

How important do you think social media is for the modern travel operator and why?

“Social media is an essential consideration for any travel business today.  For those who are cynical and think it’s all about the kids couldn’t be more wrong. We see all age groups engaging on social media and it’s a way to inspire conversations and amplify our marketing campaigns in a much subtler style. And we see a clear role in the customer service space – if something goes wrong, customers now expect brands to respond quickly. It’s all part of our online brand reputation, which for a business that prides itself on service, is essential.”

 

Louise Hodges, Head of Communications at Travelzoo (Europe) Ltd

travel zoo logo

What affect has social media had on your company as a whole?

“As an online travel company we are used to presenting our brand to people via digital channels, however social media gives us the chance to show a bit more personality around what Travelzoo stands for. We see social media as a conversation with people who may want to book our travel deals, but it’s not really a place to sell, rather it’s a place to build brand engagement and trust. Social media also gives us the chance to understand people’s’ needs and interests, so it gives us an insight into our audience and makes us remember what our customers really want when they travel.

Having that direct contact with your customer is a huge asset, but it also needs to be managed or the conversation can quickly dry up or turn sour and companies need to make sure they are ready to commit to being ‘on social media’. It’s best not to be engaging fully with social media if you don’t have the time or passion to make the most of the opportunity.”

 

How important do you think social media is for the modern travel operator and why?

“Social media is very important for travel companies as travel is a visual and inherently social subject which plays well to these channels. It also makes people feel like you are not afraid to hear feedback – good or bad – and can build trust and integrity over time.

One crucial aspect that some companies do not consider is what to actually say on social channels. At the end of the day these platforms are simply another form of media in addition to the rest of the marketing mix. What is critical is having an interesting story to tell and then adapting how you tell it so that it fits the social channel you have decided to invest time and effort building. Being across all channels from Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter to Google+ and more, but posting boring content is pointless and will not drive brand loyalty or build an audience. It will simply distract your marketing team’s efforts.

Get the message right and the medium should follow.”

 

Social media is incredibly important and valued to each of these travel agencies, and you’ll find the same can be said about any industry across the globe. If you’re interested in getting your company’s social media efforts off the ground and would like a little assistance, get in touch with Online Ventures Group today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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