How travel brands are cruising along social media

NB: This is a viewpoint by Ranjani Raghupathi, marketing executive at Unmetric.

Today, planning a holiday has apparently become a cake walk, thanks to the numerous online travel services.

Visiting your local brick and mortar travel agent to organise your trip is no longer the norm, yet the idea of being able to talk to someone with more experience when it comes to any questions or concerns one might have is evolving.

That person-to-person communication is happening in social media, of course, especially Facebook.

By becoming open and “likeable”, some brands have made themselves almost as approachable as an actual agent. Or at least that’s the idea.

In a new report, Unmetric, the social media benchmarking company from New York, takes a look at how some of the top travel brands are performing on social media.

Facebook

Facebook has evolved to be the most important social media platform. Beyond its marketing capabilities, most importantly it helps brands have two-way conversations with its fans.

Unmetric score is a social media benchmark score that blends qualitative and quantitative metrics to rank a brand against its competitors.

Expedia and Travelzoo are the top brands on Facebook with an Unmetric score of 49 followed by Priceline.com at a distant score of 26.

Unmetric - 1 Unmetric Score

The key factor to success on Facebook is engagement. It’s interesting to note that simply posting more updates doesn’t automatically convert into engagement; it’s the content of the post that draws fans to Like, Comment and Share.

The graph below shows how quality always wins over quantity when it comes to fan engagement.

Jetsetter, in spite of having decent number posts, enjoyed the highest fan engagement, while brands like Cheapoair, despite having a high number of posts, saw very low fan engagement.

Unmetric - Post vs Engagement

The social quotient of a brand doesn’t increase by only engaging a fan and bringing in new people to increase the target base.

As shown in the graph, Travelzoo grew massively at a rate of 37% while the other brands grew much slower as compared to the sector average of 6.53%.

Unmetric - Facebook Fan Growth Rate

Travel industry has been posting more of questions to fans but the posts which engaged the best were contests, followed by “like this” or engagement oriented posts.

Unmetric - Content Strategy

Twitter

When compared to Facebook, Twitter is a more personalized medium. On Twitter, conversations become one to one and a message can be tailored depending on the person it’s targeted at.

Kayak and Travelzoo are the two top brands on Twitter with an Unmetric score of 57.

Unmetric - Unmetric Score

Having a good growth rate is a sign that the brand’s strategy is working well, particularly on Twitter, where followers can be fickle and unfollow at the drop of a hat.

Kayak has the highest number of followers while Yahoo Travel had the highest followers’ growth rate at 9.13%. Compared to the sector average of 5.56%, most brands have witnessed below average growth rate.

While Kayak leads on Twitter it seemed to lack some luster on Facebook. This indicates that for Kayak, Twitter seems to be a priority.

Unmetric - Follower Base

Unmetric - Twitter Follower Growth Rate

On a social platform like Twitter, it’s very important to reply to followers in near real time. Twitter is the instant communication platform and people have conversations in real time.

Orbitz was the fastest to reply to fans within a span of two hours, followed by Expedia replying within three.

It is also important to note that while Orbitz replied to only twelve queries, Expedia has replied to over 200 queries.

Unmetric - Average Reply Time

YouTube and Pinterest

The goal of a brand is becoming more and more about having a wholesome social presence. Of the 10 top brands only 5 exist on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest.

Especially for travel industry, YouTube and Pinterest can be great mediums to post interactive and visually appealing content.

With an Unmetric Score of 50, Kayak is the top brand on YouTube; with an Unmetric Score of 73, Jetsetter is the top brand on Pinterest.

NB1: Data Analysis Methodology:

  • The Engagement Score calculation is based on the number of Likes, Comments, Shares and estimated impressions, so a page with a lower fan base can still have a better engagement score than a page with a huge fan base even if they don’t get as many interactions.
  • All data has been compiled and analyzed from the Unmetric application, for the period of March 2013- April 2013.

NB2: This is a viewpoint by Ranjani Raghupathi, marketing executive at Unmetric.

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Viewpoints

About the Writer :: Viewpoints

A founding principle of tnooz was a diversity of viewpoints from across the spectrum. Viewpoints are articles by guest contributors from around the travel and hospitality industries. The views expressed are the views and opinions of the author and do not reflect or represent the views of his employer, tnooz, its writers, or partners.

 

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  1. Ranjani Raghupathi

    Hi Jeremy,

    Thanks for your feedback. Yes, it’s definitely a case where brands have to be as approachable as an agent as many people have an affinity with the brand over the individual. With social media increasingly becoming the defacto call centre for many service based industries, the personal service is changing from one-on-one to answering massive amounts of short form questions. American Airlines has scaled up its operations to respond to over 15,000 tweets a month in an average of 15 minutes per tweet. The trend is towards more people talking to the brand than the agent now.

     
  2. Jeremy Head

    I’m confused. Do you honestly believe “By becoming open and “likeable”, some brands have made themselves almost as approachable as an actual agent” or not? Bit of an odd introductory paragraph…
    ‘This is a viewpoint’ – so what’s your key argument here?

     
  3. BeyondtheDiploma

    These cruising statistics only proves that Social Media sites in today’s generation is a lot useful for our life, especially entrepreneurs.

     
    • Ranjani Raghupathi

      Very true. We’ve seen a lot of brands/people using social media to connect with their clients. It is all the more useful today since everyone is connected 24/7, thanks to their smartphone. A conversation with a brand is only a tweet away.

       
  4. Joe Bühler

    What these numbers, especially for Travelzoo mainly reveal is that most people are still only interested in a cheap deal and not in an ongoing conversation with the brand.

     
    • Ranjani Raghupathi

      Hi Joe,
      To some extent agree with you, however it would take a deeper analysis to say for certain whether this is the case (and this is something we are looking at doing). As consumers, we are primarily interested only in the best deal and then once it’s been obtained, the conversation usually ends there – until the next time that is or if there is a problem. The frequent micro-content updates from these brands help us to at least keep them in mind when we start our next price comparison.

       
 
 

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