Hospitality.net reports that travel companies have seen the social media light and are fully engaged in these PR and marketing activities.
Is it best to work with existing social networks like Facebook, or is there ROI in setting up your own? How does one go about creating an effective social media strategy?
According to Forrester Research the sequence should be People, Objectives, Tools and then Strategy. We believe that strategy includes the whole process: set benchmarks and goals, tap into the conversations, develop and deliver your content, engage and facilitate conversations and measure the ROI.
You can't start by picking tools.That comes after you've done your homework.
Carnival Cruises chose to set up their own social networking community called CarnivalConnections.com. That makes sense for them - they have a large group of customers who cruise. The idea is to bring family and friends together by helping them plan and manage their cruise vacations. The site features an “e-invite” electronic invitation tool that can be tailored family reunions, girlfriend getaways and other groups.
Carnival was also an early adopter of Twitter – exploiting it to monitor their brand image, listen to questions from customers, communicate promotions and share experiences.
Holland America LIne has been using RSS Feeds to keep their customers in the loop.
Southwest Airlines implemented a social media strategy three years ago and they have a presence on several popular sites: Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.
Their blog “Nuts about Southwest” gets 70,000 unique visitors each month. “Nuts about Southwest” was winner of the 2008 PR News Platinum PR award for blogs.
Marriott Caribbean Resorts creates content about the destinations and syndicates it in RSS feeds. These articles have found their way into social news sites like StumbleUpon, Kirtsy and Newsvine as readers save and share the content.
Some social media tools may fit your needs more than others. And the users of each tool have a specific demographic.
You can really only decide which ones are right for you once you've done your research.
One of the tools proving useful to travel companies is the social media news release with added visuals and video material.
But one thing is quite clear: social media is an effective marketing strategy for travel companies. And in our current climate, effectve is what they need.