3 Things The Travel Industry Can Teach Your Business About Social
Looking back to the preliminary days of social media, brands in the travel industry were some of the earliest adopters and have since been named some of the most successful companies on networks like Facebook and Twitter. Early in 2009, Mashable recognized major players Jet Blue, Carnival Cruise Lines and Hertz, among others, as companies whose “ground-breaking [social] efforts lead to better service.”
These businesses have been connecting with customers in a public forum long before the birth of social, so expanding these experiences to social channels has been a natural fit for building and maintaining relationships.
Perhaps due to the groundwork the industry laid for superior customer engagement, today’s travelers are more active on social than ever before. Seventy-three percent of travelers log onto social networks daily, and more than 50% of U.S. travelers who access the Internet via a mobile device use it to update their networks with trip-related posts.
Taking a page from some of the travel industry’s finest, here are three best practices that businesses can start implementing to improve their social game:
Challenge the status quo with exceptional customer service.
Social never sleeps, and neither does the travel industry. Many hotels and airlines have led the pack in adopting a “when and where you need it” approach to social with separate pages and handles dedicated to customer requests. For example, the Hyatt hotel chain’s @HyattConcierge account offers guests at over 485 properties a central location to receive concierge style service via social media – a simultaneously creative and on-brand way to deliver value while reinforcing guest relationships.
Likewise, Delta’s @DeltaAssist Twitter handle focuses on providing customer service around the clock. It’s even noted in the first line of their profile: “We’re listening around the clock, 7 days a week.” Delta also lists alternative contact information in their profile. Both companies not only aid guests in being tended to promptly, but they ensure other branded channels are less cluttered with customer feedback.
Brands that don’t yet have the infrastructure to manage social support 24/7 can take a note from both Hyatt and Delta by setting clear expectations: defining what accounts aim to provide, communicating estimated response times with “social business hours” and offering additional outlets for requests.
2. Visually engage and inspire.
We live in a visual world – especially when it comes to travel planning and inspiration.
The travel industry taps into the emotion of the thousands of beautiful travel destinations around the globe by showcasing pictures on their social channels, often finding personalized ways to engage their audiences and encourage sharing with related questions or quotes.
United recently hit home with travel enthusiasts by sharing an outdoor photo on their Facebook page accompanied by a Hans Christian Andersen quote, “To travel is to live.” With no call to action, the airline rather used the moment to visually inspire its fans.
HomeAway.com, a leading vacation rental site, used visuals to run an incentive-based contest on Best Outdoor Spaces. Fans were asked to “like” their favorite picture, and the property with the most likes would then be featured in a marketing campaign. HomeAway was able to promote their service and properties while creating an enjoyable, interactive experience for users.
Though other industries don’t necessarily have the same wealth of visual assets to tap into, visual updates remain one of the most captivating experiences to attract users in the social realm.
3. Reward your fans with special deals.
One of the top-cited reasons customers engage with brands on social is to find and track deals. A lesson all businesses can learn from the travel industry is timing deals to upcoming holidays or events – times when customers are more likely to splurge. For example, British Airways offers customers timely specials by running and promoting flash deals around the summer and winter holidays on its social channels.
Southwest Airlines took a similar approach with their Carpe Vacay campaign, a special to reward fans with an end-of-summer incentive to book an affordable getaway. Both examples are not only timely and a good value, but they also give their followers a feeling of exclusivity by being the first to learn of spectacular savings as their fan.
With technology advancing and consumers relying more and more on social for everyday life information, it’s imperative businesses amp up their social game to stay relevant and preferred.
How will your brand leverage these lessons?