posted by Larry Weintraub
I'm way behind on my blogging. I have some great stuff to share, just can't find a minute to do it. Let's start with this interview I did for the Travel Smart Blog. If you run a business, read this. Yes it's geared toward the travel industry, but you can apply most if not all of these concepts to nearly any business. Enjoy...
As we continue to celebrate Social Media Week, I had the chance to interview Larry Weintraub, CEO and co-founder of Fanscape, a social media marketing agency. He was able to provide some great information about how the travel industry and its customers are being impacting by social media, which I’m happy to share with you here!
1. What is the best way for travel companies to measure ROI (Return On Investment) on their social media (SM) channels?
What works for one company does not always work for another. The real question is, what is important to you? If it is sales, then your ROI will be measured by how much revenue you generate from your social media channels. For example, if you are a hotel chain, you want to drive people to purchase rooms. But what you have to know is that if you simply push people to book rooms and you don’t engage them, you will be disappointed. You need to offer value. Value in the form of discounts, exclusives, inside information, special amenities, etc. Make it worth their while to come visit your social media channels. Do that, and you will see sales and your ROI will be properly measured as a result of your engagement and not by simply building a channel.
2. Are daily giveaways and incentives the only way for travel brands to attract new fans/followers?
No, not at all. The key is value. Daily giveaways and incentives are fun and do offer value. But let’s not forget about good communication. Your social media channels are an extension of you. If you are a travel professional, what makes you special? Usually it is because you have insight and knowledge that the average consumer doesn’t have themselves. You’ve been to all the places people want to go, you’ve stayed in all the hotels, taken cruises, rented cars. You know where to go, how to get there, and what to ask for. People love to travel, but they are often confused by offers or worried about making a bad decision that isn’t realized until they reach their destination. If you communicate well with your customers and potential customers, answer their questions and provide them with your insight, that can be more valuable than a daily giveaway. This connection to your audience will result in people telling others. Word of mouth is the number one reason people buy something or try something, provide value and people will tell their friends.
3. How can a hotel control the damage of an unhappy customer when his or her feedback is immediately published on a social media site?
What you hope is that if a person has a problem, they come to you first. Even if it is in a public forum such as a travel blog or your Facebook page. If they voice their concern in that public forum, then you need to address it quickly and show that you care. For example, if someone complains about their hotel room or the service they received, you need to respond to that person, again, in public, on the social media site they utilized, and say that you are truly upset that they had that experience and you are looking into it immediately. Ask them then to respond to you directly via email or phone and offer to discuss the issue. Once you have resolved the issue, post again to let all those who read the chain know that you spoke with this person, you fixed any issues that related specifically to your hotel, and that this is an isolated experience. This is not a guaranteed fix. There are those who participate in social media that cannot be appeased. All you can do is do your best. If you participate regularly and actively in your social networks and you respond to discussions about your property in other social forums such as TripAdvisor, then the audience there will know that you do really care about your customers. Others will tend to discount the lone noisemaker if you are consistent with your participation and compassionate with your customers.
4. Will we ever get to a point where travel companies no longer need full blown websites because their customers would prefer to book directly through Facebook and Twitter applications?
The short answer is no. You will always need a website. That website will most likely continue to evolve and become more and more social in nature. Meaning, most if not all websites will continue to evolve and many of the features of popular social networks such as Facebook and Twitter will become integrated into your website. Features such as sharing, commenting, uploading photos and videos, and many more. Facebook and Twitter are the current favorite places to socialize, but tomorrow there will be something else. This doesn’t mean that they are going away any time soon, it just means you will always have to update your profiles on many places, but the one consistent will be your website.
5. With so many exciting new networks popping up every day, what is the best way for companies to keep up and ultimately use all of these tools as new revenue drivers?
You only have so many hours in a day and your resources are not endless. You can’t chase every new thing that comes up. Sometimes you just have to wait a minute and see if something catches on. Not every company has to be a leader. In fact, most companies will choose not to lead and will watch to see if revenues are being generated by competitors or others in related fields. Identify a handful of companies that do similar things as you and a handful that you aspire to be, even if they are not directly in your industry. If you see them doing great things or you read about them making money as a result of new tools, then reach out to the makers of those new technologies and ask them how they can help you. If you then do decide to participate, try to make your offering better for your customers. This could be in the form of discounts, deals, or the sharing of really useful information. No one is going to criticize you for copying someone else. It’s just up to you to make it the best for your business and the people who utilize your service.