Published on Monday, February 21, 2011
Paul Richer, senior partner Genesys – The Travel Technology Consultancy, issues a warning to those who are sceptical of Facebook and Twitter...
"I was in a discussion with a couple of travel industry journalists this week. We were talking about social media. Journalist One said that she really doesn’t see what Twitter is all about and she is not at all interested in Facebook. Why would people she hardly knows be interested in everyday routine details of her life? If she wants to tell her friends such things, she will pick up the phone and talk to them, she declared. Journalist Two then sheepishly admitted that she does tweet, “but only occasionally,” as if this was something to feel guilty about.
Which camp are you in; the ignore-it camp - living a simple life without the pressures of informing the world of your doings, the occasional tweeter - not giving too much away, or the enthusiast – wanting to tell the world your every thought and emotion because the world really wants to know?
If you are in the ignore-it camp which I think many still are, the question you need to ask yourself is whether your business is going to suffer as a result?
I have just finished organising a conference on social media. The publicity went out and I was amazed at the reaction. There is a huge amount of interest in the subject. I had quite a few emails from social media marketing consultants and agencies wanting to be involved. There is a whole new industry here that has grown from zero to employing significant numbers.
What was very encouraging, though, were the emails I received from travel people saying that they don’t need to come to the conference, thanks, they are already doing social media and it’s going great.
Examples of social media in action include On Holiday Group’s Share and Earn scheme, rather cheekily called Google Bypass by Steve Endacott until it was decided, for reasons unknown to me, to change the name. This is a viral marketing initiative that relies on participants spreading the word on social media. It could not be done without tools like Facebook that allow the fast and wide dissemination of a message.
Then there was social media in action during the snow crisis in December. Some airlines were using Twitter to frequently update customers on the latest situation. For example, Virgin Atlantic’s tweet volume rose from an average of around 12 per day to a peak of 460 tweets on 21 December – one every 20 seconds. These were a combination of status messages and replies to customers’ tweets. I wonder how big a team one needs to support that amount of tweeting?
Interestingly, for a big company to act small and engage in one to one conversations must take quite a bit of internal re-organisation. Who is responsible; marketing, customer relations, e-commerce or perhaps a new social media group? How will they be empowered? What can or cannot they say? What decisions will they be allowed to make?
If yours is a smaller business then, organisationally, it is much easier. Resource-wise, though, it is going to cost you. Not in money, but in the time it will take to properly communicate with your customers.
Are you up for it or are you brave enough to go against the tide and say that social media is an over-hyped waste of time and energy. Look forward to your comments."
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The recent insolvency of Low Cost Travel Group, one of the large players in the travel industry had a big impact on the travelers, hotels and all related players from both wholesale & retail arms. There were about 27,000 people on a holiday who had booked through the company comprised of a €200 million wholesale arm and €500 million OTA / retail arm.