The travel industry has embraced the power of user generated content while social media management is becoming a core competency.
Travel companies are monitoring Twitter and creating Facebook fan pages to control brand image. These efforts have been designed to create online community, improve customer interaction and provide a new outlet for special offers.
But the immediacy of mobile social networking is changing the dynamics of this process.
With location at the heart of mobile applications, connecting user reviews with the immediacy of mobile feedback presents new challenges for our industry.
How does a restaurant control the fact that an unhappy customer blasts the meal or poor service while at dinner and immediately posts a review on Yelp, Twitter or Facebook?
Clearly monitoring brand is becoming a difficult task.
The smartphone has become a major access point for social computing.
According to a recentÂ comScore report, 30.8% of smartphone users accessed social networking sites via their mobile browser in January 2010, up 8.3 points from 22.5% one year ago.
Access to Facebook via mobile browser grew 112% in the past year, while Twitter experienced a 347% jump.
This trend will continue to accelerate. Immediate annotation of real world experiences is todayâ€™s reality.
As travel companies refine their social media strategies, the immediacy of customer feedback will likely cause added stress to the system.
Panelists at the recentÂ PhoCusWright@ITB Bloggers’ Summit, includingÂ Robert K. Cole (RockCheetah),Â Samuel Daams (Travellerspoint), Uwe Frers (Escapio) and Claude Benard (Tnooz and HoteliTour), agreed that posting both positive and negative reviews provide a sense of honesty to online brand management.
Responding to negative reviews is a natural customer service activity, but dealing with individual complaints is not the issue.
A broader concern is the impact a given traveler has on his or her social graph. Location and mobility go hand in hand and travelers are the early adopters of next generation smartphones.
Therefore the immediacy of customer feedback will likely impact our industry first. In order to meet this goal we must move beyond simply monitoring of brand and embrace social network analysis so the supplier or intermediary can respond quickly to those travelers that have broad influence and large numbers of followers.
Yet not all Tweets are created equal.
Yes, all customers need to be treated fairly, but understanding those with the greatest influence and insuring that their issue is dealt with in a timely manner must become a core competency of all travel providers.