Selling via social media has become the elusive Holy Grail of marketing. A new entry claims to have found a formula to do it and presents an interesting case.
Founded by previously successful tech executives and self-funded, Los Angeles-based Kaptivating combs social media to see who is asking for vacation advice; or reviewing or recommending travel products. A platform, which the company calls the Konnector, then makes direct offers to those social media users based on what they have posted. Executives say they “proactively interact with persons showing an inclination to buy and intelligently select the most appropriate product match.”
So far, the company has clients in Las Vegas and Miami; and scours for leads on Twitter, with plans to expand imminently to other destinations and social media platforms. In the first few months it claimed to send 100,000 leads to clients.
As Tom Galido, chief strategy officer, says, “The cost of customer acquisition continues to rise and eventually some sales will end up with negative margins. We have the ability to drive a relationship with individuals through one-to-one offers.”
Key to all this is that the hospitality client has to agree to allow the offers to be outside parity – meaning a true deal not offered to the general public.
Kaptivating claims a better than 30% click-through rate in its early days, proving, said Steve Tulk, chief technical officer, that “people will buy through social media if the offer is right.” Kaptivating can create an offer two seconds after a prospective customer posts, but the tool waits a few minutes because too rapid a response can “seem creepy.”
The offer can be positioned to come from the actual supplier with their name or it could be from a concierge or it could be from a newly created persona. It all depends on client preferences, as well as the match and the deal. Also, hotels are not the only possible clients for Kaptivating. They are also targeting travel agents who can make similar offers to potential clients.
Kaptivating itself has an IATA number (as do most travel agents) and is paid a 10% commission like an agent; there is also an access fee.
“Selling on social media is tough,” concedes Galido, “you need to reach people who are ready to spend money and we believe our algorithm does that.”
“Our goal,” he said, “is to focus on the meaningful and differentiated. Each offer has a unique URL and so can’t be duplicated.”
Price is just one factor in the offerings; other personal issues might also come into play – spa, sports, etc. “The definition of value is different for everybody,” said Galido. “We’re about making a relevant offer in a relevant voice.”
Whether Kaptivating has found the Holy Grail will be revealed as it expands – and deals with competitors who will also claim to have solved the secrets of social media.
In a month that saw the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, anything can be seen as possible.