Zuckerberg: Ten tips by big sister for using Facebook in travel

The opening keynote at HITEC in Austin, Texas, last week was given by Facebook’s Zuckerberg.

The Zuckerberg in question was not the hoodie-wearing CEO, but his sister Randi who is Facebook’s director of market development and one of the brand’s greatest spokespeople.

Her presentation was titled “Change Through Social Media: How the Web is Radically Altering Our World”.

A few people I spoke to before the speech wondered whether it was just going to be a generic Facebook pitch, but were hopeful that she would tailor the presentation to the travel sector.

And that she did. Her presentation was not just travel-focused, it was clear that she spent a lot of time thinking about travel and did a significant amount of research on how social networking is impacting the travel industry.

Zuckerberg noted: “So many deeply personal and emotional experiences are related to travel” – engagements, weddings, family vacations and the like. And as such people are looking to trusted sources for recommendations and suggestions of where to go, where to stay, and what to do.

She singled out TripAdvisor as one company who was leveraging social (and Facebook) very well. TripAdvisor not simply using Facebook login credentials, but deeply integrating the Facebook API in order to present a completely customized TripAdvisor home page.

Finally, Zuckerberg shared her list of best ways that companies can use Facebook in travel, with several examples for each tip.

tripadvisor facebook rampup1

So, without further ado:

1. Treat fans special

Go out of your way to provide an awesome experience to your fans. In particular, focus on digital influencers.

2. Timely contests and promotions

Contests are always great ways to engage customers and gain fans. Zuckerberg highlighted American Airlines’ Mystery Miles promotion that allowed AA to go from 2000 to 200,000 fans in the space of just two days.

3. Include and feature your fans

One example was Fairmont Hotels provided flip cams to guests to enable fans to share and highlight aspects of the hotels. Zuckerberg also suggested to feature employees as well.

4. Track keywords and analytics

There is a tremendous amount of analytics and keyword targeting available on Facebook. Take advantage of them. You may also want to target updates by geography.

5. Stay timely and relevant

Whether it’s using Facebook as a communications vehicle during a crisis (eg. the Ash Cloud) or taking advantage of current events (The Royal Wedding).

6. Embrace ocially conscious travel

One great example was Southwest Airlines making donations to the Make-a-Wish Foundation in return for mobile check-ins.

7. Use Facebook as a booking engine

It’s not about technology, it’s about the relationships you build over Facebook. If you can establish a strong relationship with your customers, and keep them engaged, you can reduce price sensitivity… which is good for profits.

8. Leverage mobile

Mobile is about context and location. Travel is about context and location. Offer deals. The Palms Hotel offered a free night’s stay or room upgrade for guests that checked in on Facebook.

9. Post engaging/creative content

Share special insights and insider tips or offer up non-standard content. Marriott just launched a Farmville-style game called My Marriott Hotel to get prospective employees excited about being in the hotel business. The Ritz Carlton Toronto live-streamed their opening.

10. Crowd sourcing

Get guests to help contribute ideas to improve your property.

What do you think of Zuckerberg’s “tips”?  Are you using any of these ideas already? Is there a great idea that you’ve implemented that you’d like to share? Please let me know in the comments.

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Glenn Gruber

About the Writer :: Glenn Gruber

Glenn Gruber is a contributor to tnooz and senior mobility strategist at Propelics , an enterprise mobile strategy firm.

Previously Glenn was AVP travel technologies at Ness Technologies, responsible for developing the company’s strategy and solutions for the travel industry.

Prior to Ness he held leadership roles at Symphony Services, Kyocera and Israeli startups Power Paper Ltd and Golden Screens Interactive Technologies. He also writes a personal blog, Software Industry Insights



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  1. Erica Hogan

    Great article with great tips for those of us just starting out with rentals and reservations… Facebook and other social media resources have helped us grow our business tremendously over the years. We are about to launch our online reservation system, and were planning on using these tools to offer coupons and deals – this article will help us navigate the waters!

  2. Best of Tnooz This Week - Zuckerberg tips, Useless apps, Check-outs check-in | Tnooz

    […] Zuckerberg: Ten tips by big sister for using Facebook in travel […]

  3. Andy

    And another really awesome video on social media and its scope can be found on the blog http://www.netamatixblog.com

    Travle needs to get onboard with this or be blown away. Read why.

    Some of the stats blow you away.

  4. Vago Damitio

    I would think that pairing with prominent and well known travelers like me ( http://www.facebook.com/vagodamitio and http://www.vagobond.com ) would be another way to harness the power of social media and in particular facebook.

  5. Ruby

    This is getting printed and going up on the front of my desk.

  6. Brittany Laughlin

    Thanks for writing up the talk – sounds like a great look at social travel right from the source. At http://www.gtrot.com we’re working to leverage Facebook data to enrich travel experiences. So much of online travel is focused on search, research and booking. We’re connecting people with their friends between the booking process and when they come back. We’re now working to help connect the best advice to those with upcoming trips. I’m always happy to talk more about FB + travel – ping me @gtrot.

  7. Andy

    On the money with the emotional aspect of travel. Feed into a psychograph and you’ve got it covered. We’re building a social media platform to allow a number of integrations to take place for the business. Our customers, both the consumer and our suppliers, will then be able to interact on a host of platforms from a single page in the admin area of our sites. With interaction based around learning from the customer and giving them what they seek through that learning it’s an exciting project that we commence in December this year.
    Social is the way to go.


  8. APOMT

    I feel Randi has some great tips for the travel industry. Since the beginning of my business A Peace of Mind Travel.com I was extremely interested in ingratiating as much Facebook elements as I could into my travel sites. I continue to try to read as much as I can find on Facebook marketing. I have heard some people say social networking is a fad and will not last. I believe it will be around for a long, long time due to the fact there is so much money being made around the whole social phenomenon. The one piece of advice that I can give other businesses wanting to market on Facebook would be to don’t put all your eggs in one basket and keep an eye on other social networking sites that may be utilized in conjunction with Facebook.


    C.S. Montgomery

  9. Dirk

    Good wrap! Selling travel is about selling the emotion. Facebook is a great tool to create a profile of you products, destination, etc beyond the glossy brochure. As dive travel specialist at http://diversiondivetravel.com.au it gives us the chance to engage with fans about all aspects of the dive experience.

  10. Heddi

    This is really interesting, especially for http://www.mytab.co – where we’re focusing on the emotional attachment related to gifting Facebook friends & family cash for wish list travel i.e. birthdays, weddings, graduations etc.It’s not just related to Zuck’s comment about recommendations, where to go, what to do etc – but the focus is still on price for users. What can they afford? Can they actually afford to get to the Best Friend’s wedding, pay for hotel, spend cash without panicking about burning the wallet etc. So what Facebook’s saying is very no-brainer in the general industry scheme. But they’re obviously making a stance that travel is important for Facebook to grab onto – something that’s been rolling around with them for about 8 months. Great article!

  11. Oz Har Adir

    These are good tips actually. Very Facebook centered of course, but the Facebook logic of connecting to your customers is so different than the classic approach that sees travel reservation systems as a static vehicle that should only produce fast and reliable results.

    The combination of Facebook and user reviews (as we learned in another piece today) can create great impact for a brand. I do wish that there were more ways to identify the actual effect Facebook has on visitors, and that there were better ways to segment the messages to the fans. Moreover, getting an army of fans to actually get involved in the conversation on your wall is quite hard. I think that Travelzoo has a good example for generating constant Facebook engagement for a seemingly boring product.

    Anyone knows other good examples?

  12. todd

    We’re doing many of these things with the soon to be released Clique App for iPhone, and providing something new for the people of Facebook. Coming soon!!!


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