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Advice & Trends
Here we give advice and inform about important trends in the world`s biggest industry - travel tourisme! Life could be so wonderful if we only knew what to do with it. Travelling is one alternative. Explore more!

How can social media create new business opportunities for the travel industry? Part 1 of 2!

Social media are communities on Internet as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Some tour operators, travel agents and tourist organisations have engaged in social media with great success. They have realised that new media has completely transformed the way their potential customers find travel information and offers. Also the way they communicate. So how can social media create new business opportunities for tour operators, travel agents and tourist organisations?

Photo. Social media is a tool that could be used to do business in a new way, but what is companies’ philosophy for using it?

How to turn websites and social media into measurable revenues for companies and organisations? Social media have changed the way people keep updated with news, connect and communicate. These technologies are being adopted by people of all ages, all over the world, in a very fast speed. It’s not just people, it’s also between people and companies.

Now a days it’s growing up portals for social networking which are both open and closed communities are active on Internet, and these are often integrated with business software systems and websites. Today Facebook has more than 500 million active users. But how to understand and benefit from it? That’s a fundamental question which it’s difficult to answer with single words. It’s a chaotic world out there on Internet with all kind of websites and networking societies. They all offer facilities for connections, blogs, forums and chatting. Some companies sign up for social media services without knowing what they are doing and they don't see any tangible results from their efforts. Isn`t any opportunity for benefit from social media, or what are some companies doing wrong? 

I am really thinking, by using social media, tour operators, travel agents and tourist organisations, can grow their business in another way. They can reach a higher number of potential customers, building stronger loyalty to customers, and increase the conversation rate (more bookings per number of unique visitors on their website and social media sites). The key to using social media successfully is making it a part of companies overall marketing strategy and goals.

Establishing in social media without having a clear goal and defined target group is just a waste of time. In worst case it can harm companies businesses. The purpose of social media can be considered as a conversation between a company and customer with added value such as special offers and contests, found only on that medium. For example a blog provides better visibility on search engines, fresh and rich content, is more personable, easier to update, and gives potential customers a reason for to read it often.

Social media today is used by tour operators and tourist organisations to:
•    Build company brand
•    Promote offers
•    Attract visitors to their websites by added links
•    Track leads: find potential customers and establish connections
•    Retrieve and study information about travellers interests
•    Create a more active dialog and build a stronger relationship with their customers (loyalty)
•    Achieve recommendations from satisfied travellers shared with others
•    Offer booking directly

In my opinion is social media just perfect for the travel industry. Tour operators, travel agents and tourist organisations can publish information and offers on the same arena as their customers operate, and they can get in contact them more easily than through a website. By following active users of social media, it’s also possible for companies to find out more about their behaviour and interests. Tour operators, travel agents and tourist organisations can also get valuable feedback directly from travellers so they can improve their products and services.

Travellers can exchange their travel adventures in a quick way on social media. They can publish comments, articles, photos and video clips and share it with other users with just a mouse click.

Now a days travellers get travel information and offers continuously when they are logged on in social medias as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. They don’t have to wait until a specific time to receive the information or visit a specific site to find favourable tour offers.

Read more about business opportunities in social media in the part 2 of the article.

Stein Morten Lund, 4 July 2011

Additional information
This article in two parts are based on my personal observations, opinions and reflections from my experience working with social media, websites and business systems. It has given me a new business perspective. In my opinion social media has to be taken more seriously. It’s very much noise there, but it’s also an opportunity to built personal network and generate leads. I am holy convinced now: doing it the right way can make businesses more profitable.

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