Mixing it up on social media: two travel companies that get it right

Mixing it up on social media: two travel companies that get it right

Mixing it up on social media: two travel companies that get it right

The numbers are staggering. According to the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), “almost 24 million Canadians, or 69% of the nation’s population, visited at least one social networking site last year.”

It’s not surprising then that leading travel industry players such as Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and Porter Airlines are enthusiastically embracing all things social (see sidebar for more information).

“We believe it’s necessary to be present on several channels to reach various audiences through various mediums,” says Hayley Mitchell, Director, Social Media & Community, FRHI Hotels & Resorts, adding, “After all, we specialize in great service, so we like to be present.”

Of all social networks, Fairmont and Porter agree: Twitter and Facebook have been the most powerful to date. Brad Cicero, Director, Communications & Public Affairs, Porter Airlines Inc., says Twitter’s strength is its immediacy, perfect for travellers seeking real-time information and answers. And Facebook, Cicero says, is great for “more broad-based information and customer service.”

Whichever platform you choose, attaching visuals will give you a definite edge. Twitter analyzed content of over two million tweets and found those with photos “averaged a 35% boost in Retweets.”

Facebook’s photo stats are even more impressive. Social Media Examiner, the world’s largest online social media magazine, says “photos are the most engaging type of content on Facebook, with a whopping 87% interaction rate from fans.”

While it’s tempting to jump on the social media bandwagon, consider the following first:

Suitability. The first step is to figure out which platform best suits your business – and your personal preference. Says Cicero, “Do it because you have an interest in it and you’re willing to learn it, not because someone is telling you to do it.”

Commitment. Once you start, you can’t just stop. Your followers will expect to read your updates and have their questions answered. Failing to do so is bad business and akin to ignoring e-mail or voice messages.

Time. It takes time, knowledge and resources. You could hire a part-time social media manager but be careful. Says Mitchell, “Social is very public, you want this handled by a professional who understands your business.” Consider using a dashboard like Hootsuite where you can manage multiple social networks, schedule outgoing posts and tweets, track mentions and analyze traffic. Or simply work it into your week. Cicero suggests carving out 20 minutes every few days to post information and engage with your community. At the very least, “pay attention, even if you can’t engage and respond every time.” Are people talking about a destination or airline you represent? Are they talking about you or your company?

Bad apples. While most interactions are genuine, the anonymity of social media can sometimes bring out the worst in people. No company is immune to negative comments, so the best defence is to be prepared. You have every right to remove offensive comments or language, says Mitchell, although you may want to keep a copy for your records. But if it’s a genuine complaint, deal with it. “Apologize, and see if you can fix it,” she says. “Time is of the essence; minimize back and forth by rerouting the public conversation offline to a phone call or email, but let the public know you’re handling it.”


Sidebar: By the Numbers

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
Twitter: 103,000 followers
Facebook: 169,652 likes
LinkedIn company page: 101,596 followers
Pinterest: 1817 followers
Instagram: 8,833 followers
Google+ 1,127 followers|439,963 views
YouTube: 1,583 subscribers, 433,040 views

Porter
Twitter: 59,600 followers
Facebook: 48,834 likes
LinkedIn company page: 7,618 followers
Google+ 716 followers|86,124 views
Instagram: 1772 followers
YouTube: 419 subscribers, 97,278 views