Future Implications of Social Media

Human behavior is changing. With the rise in popularity in smart phones, more people are on their cell phones more than ever. I’d like to say it’s somewhat of an addiction, and our generation should be renamed the mobile generation. The evolution of smart phones coincided with social media evolution, and it’s rapidly growing and changing. Companies are continuously trying to find new ways to connect with consumer, while building brand loyalty through social media. Companies are almost required nowadays to have some sort of social media page, and consumers expect that there will be a representative of that companies brand to respond to their questions, comments, and praise. This in itself has changed human purchasing behavior.

More and more often I see brands offering mobile discounts or mobile coupon codes. This is typically because they want a consumer to download their mobile application. By offering a code or coupon using their services, like company Orbitz does, the consumer not only has to visit their site, but downloads also the application that sends out notifications directly to them. These notifications alert consumers that download the application to visit the application or act on a sale or promotion without even having to open their email.

Companies can also track who sees their posts on social media, and clicks on what. This gives companies a better idea of what they should be posting, and who they should be interacting with and targeting on any given social media site.

Humans desire to be a part of things. Lays “Do us a Favor” chip contest was successfully pulled off through the help of social media. Consumers can now feel like they are a part of the brand, and a part of the making of a new chip flavor. The wacky flavors makes this campaign memorable and gets fans invested. Without social media these kind of campaigns would never be possible.

New ideas of what you can actually do with social media surface daily, and with social media, the possibilities are endless.

Viral Marketing Initiatives in the Travel Industry

One of the best things (or worst things) to happen to company is for their content is to go viral. Marketers try very hard to get their companies information seen by the right people. And in a flash anyone can post something related to a companies product or service and have it be seen by millions of people. Sometimes companies decide to take these viral marketing opportunities into their own hands as well.

of these reasons:

The “Selfie Shootout” is a popular viral campagin made by Turkish Airlines. This viral marketing campaign has over 130 million views! I believe that this marketing campaign went viral because

1. It has a clear objective.

Anyone that views this video can easily tell that the objective of this video is to inspire travel. It showcases the fact that Turkish Airlines flies to more countries around the world than any other airline.

2. It evokes emotion.

This video showcases a fun game of traveling around the world (which most people would like to do). It is awe inspiring of what someone could actually do and visit favorite and recognizable places. There is also a sense of humor in the game the two are playing to out-do each other.

3. It features a celebrity.

This video features Kobe Bryant, which is a world renown basketball player. Almost everyone has heard of this player, even if they are not a basketball fan. It also features Lionel Messi, a famous soccer star who I was not familiar with, but the rest of the world probably is.

4. It keeps your attention.

Kobe is licked by a lion, Messi is scuba diving with sharks. These are things you would not typically see everyday.

5. Use social media to boost your campaign.

Turkish Airlines also used the hashtag #kobevsmessi to drive the campaign. They also asked people who won to keep the conversation going. Pure genius, and the campaign definitely resulted in more flights booked on the airline.

Differentiation

Calling all  travel buffs! Does Social Media Matter when it comes to booking travel?

This blog post focuses on the social media utilization of two popular American travel booking sites: Expedia.com and Orbitz.com. There are so many booking agencies out there, travel sites need to really differentiate themselves from the competition through social media.  From what I’ve seen Expedia’s “Where you book matters” slogan is apparent when viewing their social media involvement and I think that they have somewhat one-upped Orbitz.

Throwback Thursday is a popular hashtag on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Expedia recently came up with a social media project to transform peoples old vacation photos to recent photos (Expedia, n.d.). You first have to follow Expedia, then hashtag their hashtag #throwmeback. Expedia’s goal is to bring back feelings of nostalgia and realize that your family should be creating these memories by traveling, particularly with Expedia. This is a way for them to gain new customers and followers at the same time by creating buzz by using these hashtags on social media sites.

Expedia’s main mission using social media seems to be connecting with potential customers and inspiring their travel. Expedia also uses the hashtag #ExpediaChat to just chat and connect with it’s customers and followers. Their blog-  http://viewfinder.expedia.com/  is written by travel bloggers and inspires customers to book travel, while being user friendly and interesting.  Expedia’s twitter account posts photos of travel and hashtags with a bigger scale of winning amounts, and many tweets are responses to users of Expedia having trouble.

A few years back Expedia had a social media campaign with another big giveaway of a trip of a lifetime for the contest submitter and 5 friends. As friends shared with other friends in order to win, Expedia increased their Facebook fan base by 750%, and attained 1 million fans in six weeks (Expedia Soars, n.d.).

From what I see, Orbitz does not have as strong social media strategy. Orbitz has a Twitter campaign going called #ask orbitz in order to win Orbucks aka money to use on their site. It has some potential to attract followers. Orbitz’s twitter account managers also seem to post a lot of pics to encourage travel (Orbitz, n.d.). Orbitz Twitter account is more focused on getting the deals out there for potential customers to see and small contests. The site also has as travel blog – Orbitz Travel Blog  but to me it is not as appealing as a traveler with photos and articles written by employees like Expedias.

I think that Orbitz is using social media to get their deals out there for customers to respond to, but overall I think Expedia does a better job of using social media as a two way communication channel between their customers and company. Expedia uses large prize packages as incentives to follow their pages, has a excellent and captivating travel blog, as well as fun and interactive games and chat times for followers. This brings them closer to their goals of connecting with customers. Orbitz seems to use the social media outlets more for promoting deals that are currently on their site.

 

Tweet this..Blog That!

images

Twitter and Blogging may not be popular in five years, but in today’s world they have become a normal way of life for most industries. Well, the ones who are doing it right. Some people love to hate on the airline and travel industry (i.e. United Airlines). Blogs and twitter accounts are a way to publicly address concerns and add a positive spin to what could be damaging information about their company. Blogging and tweeting are a way to take control a brand, and of course just a way to connect with customers. 

It can be a little overwhelming, but I find that the best companies reply to as many users as possible that tweet at the company. Writing customers with empathy can help the little problems or issues for your companies booking process,  delayed flight, etc. stay little. All customers want is for someone to listen and at least try to understand their needs. Sure, there will be customers who will never be happy with anything but all a company can do is try. For instance, Southwest Airlines has a specific link on their twitter page to direct users to make official concerns, but still do respond with empathy to their followers with easily resolved issues.

Empathy is something that is underrated, but engaging with your customers with empathy can make a huge difference in gaining lifelong loyal customers. A way to save time while doing this is looking for opportunities to re tweet posts. This can cover two bases at once, it can get the information out there to your followers, and also connect with a follower (Schaefer, 2012). Using the same example of Southwest Airlines, they do not retweet their followers that much, but do retweet tweets about articles mentioning them and other related content.

One of the biggest issues companies had was,  how do I cram time to post to each and every social media site we now have? Well, one of the biggest time savers is using a utility tool like Ping.fm or Hootsuite to post information s to all social media platforms simultaneously. The great thing about these platforms is that you can create all the social media content you would like (photos, gifs, videos, etc) and schedule times/days to post it. Posting different times a day allows you to reach different target audiences.

There’s no real science to blogging and tweeting. There isn’t a set standard of doing it. Most blogs are not written by experienced writers, just people who love to write about their industry or what they are passionate about. The only key thing in writing a blog, is that you can’t be scared to write (Eradon, 2013).  If your scared to write, then you will lose out on connecting with customers and potential customers as they come across your material. Remember, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take; So keep tweeting, and keep blogging travel industry, and your customers will thank you!

Eradon, C. (2013, September 25). Inbound Hub. What the Best Business Bloggers Do (And You Should Too). Retrieved March 1, 2014, from http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/blogging-best-practices-list

Schaefer, M. W. (2012). The Tao of Twitter: changing your life and business 140 characters at a time. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Social Studies

Being social is a way of life. People love to share ideas, thoughts and opinions with each other, and in the social media world- especially opinions. However, this isn’t the only reason a brand in the travel industry should be very present in the social media world.

As I’ve stated in previous posts, people are more likely to book travel based on other friends and peer recommendations than any other reason. If their friends don’t have a social media outlet to voice their opinions, potential customers may not choose your airline or hotel.

Customers also want the comfort of a social media account to get in touch with the company quickly and easily in the moment when something goes wrong. Take for instance this example: @AmericanAir: having trouble checking in. Tried “click to talk” 5 times + simply disconnected. please help! —@JCreatureTravel. The result for the Twitter user was that an American Airlines agent got in touch and resolved the passenger’s complicated ticketing issue (Samiljan, 2012).

Travel social media sites and blogs know that someone is going to give their brand negative feedback at some point. Brands  can actually use this information to improve themselves, and create a game plan to try to keep the bad experience or service from happening again.  If they can’t keep it from happening again,  try to improve upon their customer service and image.

There’s also always a push to be visible to your target audience, and social media keep sales and promotions visible to the customer every time they check their newsfeed, account, etc. Using social media is a way to amplify your brand’s word of mouth. Social travel applications and sites keep evolving, so the travel industry needs to be online and aware of these new sites that pop up. A popular site is Gogobot, a website and iPhone app that will send your queries about a specific place to your Twitter and Facebook networks and even the site’s own members (Smiljan, 2012). Friends that have checked in on Facebook or Twitter also show up on the pages of places and hotel they have been too. 

Social media also helps brand’s develop and execute innovative marketing campaigns. The most innovative traveling social media marketing I’ve seen is from Cape Town Tourism. Capetown Tourism held a contest for user’s Facebook page to have a holiday in South Africa. The winners who entered had daily photos and videos posted on their wall. They even recieved gifts from the places their Facebook page went to. These users’ friends all viewed the information on their news feed while liking and commenting on it, and thought their friends were actually in Cape Town. Some luckily winners were actually flown to South Africa to experience the vacation in person. This is GENIUS, since online friends are often influenced to book travel depending on where their peers have visited. The marketing campaign was a hit, and helped Cape Town Tourism win the Best Overall Use of Social Media Award (Convention and Visitors Bureau) at the 2013 Travel + Leisure Social Media Awards.  Through the campaign, tourist numbers in Cape Town rose by 4%  (Athenkosi, 2014). What an interactive, fun campaign!

Athenkosi. (2014, January 10). 6 innovative social media campaigns from the travel industry. – Springnest Blog. Retrieved February 23, 2014, from http://springnest.com/blog/social-media-travel-marketing/

Samiljan, T. (n.d.). How Social Media Is Changing the Travel Industry. Travel + Leisure. Retrieved February 23, 2014, from http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/how-social-media-is-changing-the-travel-industry/2

Traveling? There’s an App for that!

Searching for travel

These days booking travel on your smartphone has never been easier. Pretty much every hotel chain and airline has a mobile application to make the consumer and company connect. Of course, Kayak sets the standard for searching more than one travel site at once and making reservations. It’s ease of website use continues to it’s mobile application, from searching for travel to booking. Google flights is another application that checks all travel sites but uses a different interface, so it gives sort of a second opinion. 

Here’s a tip! Did you know that downloading travel applications can give you discounts and last minute deals you might not have seen otherwise? Expedia’s iphone and Android app has these deals along with all the reviews travelers need to see before booking a room. Once a consumer has booked a trip there are hundreds of travel apps that can keep up with a traveler on the go. 

 Pack that bag up! 

There’s a ton of packing apps for that person who likes to stay organized, and what’s wrong with that! Packing Pro is a mobile app to help you do that!. It helps you remember what to pack and can also serve as evidence of what you packed if your luggage were ever lost. You can even set reminders to do things before you leave for your trip. 

Flying Away! 

The TripCase travel app takes all of your flight numbers and information and puts in all in one place that you can access from anywhere. There’s a ton of great food and retail in airports, if you know where to find it! The GateGuru application has details about over 60 airports with reviews were to dine and shop.

Now I’m here!

A nice app to have while traveling a new place is Stay. This offers tips and helps when you lose service somewhere and need to find your way around quickly!  We all know that traveling can get expensive, so Viator helps plan itinerary’s and gives ideas with a low cost budget. This is great way to see the city like a local. There’s also translation applications as well, one’s to verbally translate like Google Translate. There’s even applications to translate menus and signs in a flash called Word Lens.

Back to Reality..

Just because your back from your trip doesn’t mean the fun with apps has to end! You can share your photos on Trip Journal. Trip Journal allows you to document vacation experiences and share them with your friends and family. You can post things on vacation, or when you are back. Of course, you could also relive every minute of your trip using a travel blog application where you can also pinpoint your travels on a map on an application called Travel Pod

Traveling is fun, hectic, exciting and anxiety producing all at once. These apps make traveling a little easier and more fun. Relax knowing these apps have you covered from beginning to end!

Social Media in the Travel Industry

The travel industry is a huge industry effected by social media outlets.  While a consumer is thinking of booking travel, to booking a trip, while traveling, and after traveling consumers like to share their experiences, and ask questions to companies through social media.  Around forty percent of travelers use social media to share experiences, but I feel that number will only continue to grow. I can’t recall the last time I booked any travel plans without checking social media sites first. Seventy percent of consumers say they trust other’s recommendations over any other form of advertising. This means that as a hotel brand or airline, you need to be on top of the social media game and make sure to respond and review traveler’s reviews.

Nowadays most consumers don’t even use Google to find certain hotels in an area, but use sites like TripAdvisor to find their next hotel. TripAdvisor might not exactly be “social media” but it is a social network that allows users to connect directly with their Facebook account and post their reviews to their social media account. Since the reviews consumers write can be posted onto their Facebook accounts (with their Facebook friends to see) the reviews are important.

There are many social media sites out there, but for traveling, Facebook is the biggest social media site out there. Facebook users reported that photos of their friends trip experiences influenced their decisions up to fifty-two percent. Consumers trust reviews from friends or family members more than any other form of advertising. When searching for a location in TripAdvisor, reviews from other Facebook friends, or even friends of friends come up first in the search results.  Having an account on TripAdvisor to respond to the reviews promptly is very important.

Here are some thoughts and applications for social media from travel brands. Luis del Olmo, EVP and CMO of Melia Hotels International, says that the online reputation of each of Melia’s brands is a key success indicator. Their online reviews not only give them insights into our daily operations, they also directly influence their revenue and profitability.

During the summer of 2013 the Four Seasons Hotel New York location decided to do something a little different to attract a new demographic of the modern travelling family.  Their specific focus was to try to increase weekend bookings at the hotel. The Four Seasons partnered with the company Shoutlet to do so. According to their website, they clam to be the leading global, enterprise-level social relationship platform who helps brands elevate their social channels to drive highly engaged customer relationships to result in a  measurable business impact (Who We Are, 2014).

The hotel came up with a highly engaging and interactive 12 week campaign featuring “Maxine”, a lovable fuzzy plush toy.  Each week Maxine traveled around New York City visiting a unique  destination.  Four Seasons Facebook fans guessed the location of each adventure, with a draw being held at the campaign’s close for a Four Seasons Gift card. The Four Seasons marketing team used Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and Vine to promote Maxine.  When families visited the hotel they got a chance to interact with Maxine, through photos and personalized amenities created for each family (Olenski, 2014).

Of course hotels are not the only versions of travel industry that use social media in an innovative way. Southwest Airlines has mastered the art of social media. Southwest uses Twitter for promotions, alerts and precautions, and connecting with consumers. They have vowed to answer consumers within 24 hours of tweeting them. This to me, is just another reason why Southwest is awesome and successful.

I’ve included an infogram of how influential social media is on the travel industry:

infographic travel industry

Sources:

Olenski, S. (2014, February 7). The Impact Of Social Media In The Travel Marketing Industry. Forbes. Retrieved February 9, 2014, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/steveolenski/2014/02/07/the-impact-of-social-media-in-the-travel-marketing-industry/

Who We Are. (n.d.). Shoutlet Social Media Management Software. Retrieved February 9, 2014, from http://www.shoutlet.com/who-we-are/