World Travel Market – Social Media for Marketers: Unpicking the 2.0 hype

Nov. 16, 2009 | by Jeremy Head

I spoke at a seminar at the World Travel Market last week titled Social Media for Marketers: Unpicking the 2.0 hype.

Click on the deck here to see my presentation. There are detailed notes with the slides.

I shared the platform with Jane Nicholson the Regional Director for PR for Queensland Tourism – who was instrumental in the Best Job in the World campaign which saw Ben Southall win a worldwide competition to be caretaker of a tropical island in Queensland for a year – surely the most successful travel PR campaign of 2009.

In some ways my job was to temper some of the excitement associated with the huge numbers and point out that if you’re planning to make a noise about something it better be worth making a noise about – particularly in social spaces where people will let you (and everyone else) know fast what they think. But there was no need – Jane highlighted the fact that they set out to offer something really, genuinely inspiring as the prize – a really great job.

Increasingly, I’m beginning to believe at least some of the ‘hype’ anyway. The profound influence of social media on all our lives – not just the more geeky of us who work for digital marketing agencies – is becoming more evident by the day.  One stat I quoted in my talk was that 40% of online purchases are incluenced by social media in some way (McKinsey, 2009). That’s very significant.

One of the key issues that interestingly Emily Ashwell chose to highlight in her write up of the session on Travolution was information overload. I’m sure you know the stats but just in case:

On average, customers make 12 travel related searches, visit 22 websites and take 29 days from the first time they search until they make a purchase. (Comscore 2007)

Old stats in internet days… but still hugely important. Travel brands that win big will be those that find smarter ways to resolve this problem. And social tools increasingly seem to me to be the way forward. Here are a few examples of travel companies using Social Media in smart ways to make finding the right holiday or flight for you easier. Expect much more of this in 2010.

Twitter: @easyjetcare – follows the model several US airlines pursue of using twitter as a quick response customer service mechanism. What’s interesting about this is that they’re a low cost airline – so investing in something like this needs to be a considered decision. It IS about saving money by solving problems more quickly, but it’s also about standing out from the competition in a very price-driven market. Low cost airlines (particularly one of their main competitors) have a reputation for not really caring much about their customers – easyJet proves with this tool that they do. If I was choosing between them and a competitor flying the same or a very similar routing I know which I’d prefer.

Facebook: One of the buzz-terms we use at iCrossing is ‘Connected Brands’ – lots elsewhere on this blog explain this concept but a key element is ‘being wherever your customers want you to be’. Using a hugely popular platform like Facebook to offer access to your brand makes big sense  – but that needs to be more than just setting up a page and sticking up some pics. It has to be genuinely useful. Virgin Atlantic* has developed a Facebook app for Flying Club members – to view flight info and their membership account on their Facebook page. And it was developed with input from vFlyer members too. Increasingly success in 2010 will be about allowing people to access your brand and products wherever they want to on-line.

Company blogs: Visit Florida is a great example for me of the next step in company/commercial blogs.  Blogs are all about personality. Faceless content on a website just describing the delights of the Sunshine state – no matter how well it’s written – pales into insignificance compared with using real people who are experts. And the team at Visit Florida clearly realise this -  in this online world of over abundance you need to show customers who you are and why they should trust you. VisitFlorida’s website is a multi-author blog… there’s the Beaches expert, the Family Expert, the Golf Expert and more. Lifting the lid on your business and letting potential customers see who you are and why they should trust your will  you credibility, empathy and authority.

Social Spaces: BA might be having a rough time at the moment, but its social space experiment is brilliant in my opinion. Metrotwin offers flyers on BA’s core route – London/New York to ‘twin’ places in the two cities. Know a great little Italian restaurant in your London neighbourhood? Wouldn’t it be cool if you could find one just the same in the NY? BA has also nurtured relationships with local bloggers in each city who really know their patch and can add useful value. And the concept is transferable. Metrotwin Mumbai launched a month or two back. What’s crucial again here is focus on core customers – offering something that is genuinely useful for them.

[*Virgin Atlantic is an iCrossing client]

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    Comments (6)

    • Scott Wayne

      Hey Jeremy,
      Congratulations -- great presentation.

      David Whitley is right about the challenge of coming to grips with social media. The key challenge is managing the channels and "cross-pollinating" as much as possible.Nov 23, 2009 04:11 am

    • Akash Sharma

      Hi Jeremy,
      Finally got my broadband fixed nice talking to you,again thanks for sharing the slide.As you mentioned am scrolling on your Slideshare column to go through some more interesting presentations.Nov 20, 2009 12:11 pm

    • David Whitley

      I think anyone who says they know exactly what they're doing with social media is a bit of a snake-oil salesman. Getting to grips with social media is a little like putting handcuffs on jelly.

      But, there are some interesting things happening. One is the increasing trend for travel companies becoming online publishers - and way beyond the usual generic destination guides. Good writing and a distinct voice are becoming a way of getting noticed - especially when it comes to the retweet effect.

      I've blogged about this in a little more detail on my personal site, but companies such as Viator, Roundtheworldflights, Skyscanner, Virgin Atlantic and Kayak are all investing in editorial content.Nov 17, 2009 06:12 pm

    • Jeremy Head

      Hi Steve.
      If you click the link at the bottom right side of the presentation 'View on slideshare' you can see the deck on Slideshare. The notes are there on a tab just below the slides (Comments/Notes)
      JeremyNov 17, 2009 04:58 pm

    • Steve Jack

      Hi Jeremy- thanks for sharing this: very interesting. You say there are detailed notes with the slides. Should I be able to see these automatically, or do you need to send them separately? Thanks - Steve (Inntravel Mktng Mgr)Nov 17, 2009 02:06 pm

    • Anjali

      Thanks for mentioning Metrotwin and Metrotwin Mumbai in your presentation! I work with Made by Many, and we're part of the team that built both sites.Nov 17, 2009 11:28 am

    Please note: the opinions expressed in this post represent the views of the individual, not necessarily those of iCrossing.

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