Week 4 – Post 1 – How Are Online Travel Agencies Using Social Media?

For the scope of this coursework, a fictitious company is being created. The company logo has also been created as shown here, and will be discussed in the following post. The company’s profile in this post is followed by a synopsis of the research conducted to determine how similar companies are using social media.

 

Company Profile

Flash Travel

Your one stop here will get you there…

 

The company, flashtravel, operates through an online one stop travel shop. It is primarily aimed at meeting the needs of the traveller who does not have the time to spend hours browsing the web for the best deal, and providing them with an alternative to its online impersonal competitors, offering tailor made packages yet allowing them also to carry out their own searches through their website, compare prices and make their preferred choice which suits their needs.

flashtravel, offers services related to all aspects of travel providing personalised and customised travel planning apart from the best price comparison sites for flights and accommodation, and the best comparison search engines for car rentals, cruises, taxi bookings, bus/train ticketing and more. It boasts above all of its customer care through 24×7 online travel support.

 

Online Travel Agencies and Social Media

Simon Burslem, Marketing Manager, writes on social media tools and strategies as well as SEO tips. Simon shares his advice on international SEO, using his expertise in foreign languages including French, Spanish and Italian. He’s also a keen digital marketing researcher. In one of his posts in Social Media & Online PR (10/07/2013 http://www.sitevisibility.co.uk/blog/2013/07/10/industry-analysis-how-online-travel-providers-use-social-media/#more-1008466 ), he addresses how four of the most important online travel providers use social networks and their impact in this sphere.

Burslem explains how Skyscanner uses great imagery on Facebook to capture its audience’s attention and imagination, whilst answering its followers’ questions and often posing open questions for their feedback too. On Twitter, Skyscanner uses lots of blogging content providing travel news and tips, using hashtags with the aim of attracting a wider audience.

Kayak, he says on the other hand, have the biggest fan base on Twitter, outreaching their competitors, due to their social approach. They make use of Promoted Tweets to get their message into as many profiles as possible. Their success on Twitter may, however, be above all due to their excellent customer care with a great team behind the scenes responding to all queries instantaneously. On Facebook they are also utilising the platform’s features such as hashtags.

According to Burslem, Expedia, possibly one of the most well-known online travel providers, has the largest fan base on Facebook reaching more than 1.8 million, yet a lower Twitter audience than Kayak. Expedia’s messages on Facebook drive its consumers to make decision and present calls for action applying discount incentives and exposing them to the best deals in an appealing manner. Like Kayak, Expedia makes use of Promoted Tweets to be able to reach a more expansive audience. However they use them in a different way, to highlight their latest project, #ExpediaViewFinder, which allows travellers to share their travel experiences, tips and itineraries. This project is still developing but may also be a great way for Expedia to build their Twitter audience. Although Expedia doesn’t use Twitter for as much customer service as Kayak, it still gives its fans the opportunity to engage, feel involved, and win prizes whilst learning about new travel destinations.

The fourth travel provider in Burslem’s article is another major player in the online travel industry, LastMinute, which has the second largest fan base on Facebook out of the four named brands, and the smallest Twitter following. The author explains that LastMinute’s social buttons are not prominent enough on their homepage, and perhaps their lack of Twitter following may also be attributed to their lack of promotion to their blog content and hashtags. Having said this LastMinute stands out in the way they thank their customers for positive feedback. On the other hand, they have the second largest audience on Facebook where they provide great visuals, tying the spontaneity of their brand name to their messages and inspiring followers to travel to somewhere new and experience the wonders of the world.

The Social Media in Travel + Tourism Awards 2013 featured in Tourism + Leisure (http://www.travelandleisure.com/smittys-2013) not only lists the winners and runner-ups, but gives a brief of what won them the awards in the various categories including Best Overall Use of Social Media, Best Twitter Feed, Best Facebook Timeline and Best Pinterest Photos amongst others. Reading through them one notes that the most used platforms in the industry are Twitter, Facebook, YouTube channels, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn. This is in fact also reflected in Monica Poling’s post Social Media Tools for Travel Agents (http://www.travelagewest.com/Travel-News/Travel-Agent-Tools/Social-Media-Tools-for-Travel-Agents/#.UxxQ-D9dWBR) which also emphasises that images are an important tool in promoting travel, besides guiding travel agents which platforms and tools to use to maximise their social media marketing strategy.

Sources and Further Related Reading

http://www.sitevisibility.co.uk/blog/2013/07/10/industry-analysis-how-online-travel-providers-use-social-media/

http://springnest.com/blog/online-offline-marketing-travel/

http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/travel_agents_urged_to_get_onto_social_media

http://www.worldtourismnetwork.org/services/social-media-for-travel-agencies/

http://events.eyefortravel.com/social-media-mobile-travel-report/

http://www.travelandleisure.com/smittys-2013

http://www.travelagewest.com/Travel-News/Travel-Agent-Tools/Social-Media-Tools-for-Travel-Agents/#.UxxQ-D9dWBR

http://socialhospitality.com/2014/01/how-travel-agents-are-using-social-media-to-win-back-business/#sthash.U9QqNvEl.hlCRgL7f.dpbs

http://www.amadeus.com/web/binaries/blobs/772/264/From_Likes_to_Leads_WEB.pdf

http://www.wtmlondon.com/files/wtm_global_trends_2013.pdf

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