How Some Brands Are “Leaving Money on the Table”

Following on from my last post on the presentation given to ATTA on the opportunities for Travel and Tourism industry with social media, there are a couple of areas I would like to explore further.

Not all industries have taken to social media and in some cases, this isn’t a bad thing. Social technologies are just another tool in a company’s locker that they can use to develop areas of their business and they need to be deployed in the same way as all other initiatives – where they will have the most value to the customer.

For companies whose customers are not particularly active on social media yet, then the available resources should be focused elsewhere but for an industry such as Travel and Tourism, where user generated content plays such a huge role in a customers purchasing decision, it still seems that many of even the biggest brands are still ‘leaving money on the table’.

The crux of the problem is highlighted by a report in April from L2 a digital think tank who evaluated 89 of the top travel and tourism brands, from airlines, hotels and cruise companies. The table below looks at how well they have integrated social tools on their website (which is still the place where most customers will visit for information and bookings).

While over 90% have the option to book online from the website, which one would expect to be in action by now, the other areas which are the most important factors in helping customers make purchasing decisions and delivering better customer service are largely being ignored.

Let’s have a look at a few stats courtesy of Sticky Media which help back this up.
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  • 40% of online travellers visit social networking sites to influence destination selection
  • 87% said reviews impacted hotel choice
  • 84% said reviews impacted method of travel
  • 78% said reviews impacted choice of dining
  • 70% of consumers trust online recommendations while only 14% trust advertisements

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(source:http://www.stikkymedia.com/articles/social-media-and-the-tourism-industry-statistics)

With online reviews and opinions playing such a pivotal role in how we make decisions when we travel and go on holiday, all brands in this industry need to get a grip on reviews. Not just managing the comments and responding appropriately but using the insights to improve their service.

For luxury tourism, outstanding customer service is especially important. So, it is again surprising that so few don’t have a live chat service on their website to go that extra mile for any new or returning customers.

While many brands are looking at how they can build their Facebook fan pages up, it is vitally important to understand your online market and what is going to be best for the customer…because, (dramatic pause) that is what is going to be best for your business!

We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments on how social media and tourism can synergise each other or how any other industry is implementing effective digital and social tools.

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