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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 2 of 2!

How can tour operators achieve more travellers on their tours by using social media? Many companies use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to promote their offers. Also YouTube is popular, where it`s possible inspire travellers and promote offers through video clips. Sometimes companies go too far with spamming and over-promotion. The big challenge is to use the new media in an intelligent way that creates new business opportunities, not scaring away customers.

Photo. Social media is both a market tool and sales tool.

With social media it has become much easier for tour operators and other travel related businesses reaching out to their potential customers. When a tour operator has an online presence in social media, travellers are more likely to respond and join in on conversations. It’s because they both are on the same arena. Travellers appreciate it if a company reach out to them instead of the other way around. For example can companies connect with customers (users: members) by using The Facebook Like Box, which enables users to “like” your Facebook Page and view its stream directly from their website. For starters, companies can choose a pared-down box with their Facebook Page name, logo and Like button (as pictured above). On the other hand, companies could choose a more fully featured box that displays how many users already “like”the page (and which of their friends “like” it, too), shows recent posts from the page and allows users to “like” the page with one click (Facebook plugins).

Customers are companies’ most valuable asset. Companies struggle to retain customers, to get more out of them, and to find more customers. The value of recommendations from satisfied travellers shared with others in social media is high (good customer references). Customer satisfaction is alpha and omega for a company to be successful in the long run. Providers of Customer relationship management (CRM) systems offer companies a way to keep current customers satisfied, as well as a way of finding new customers.

These providers also offer companies to integrate these new networks and technologies into their services, for example integrate their CRM-tools with sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. That`s is what they call social CRM. As mentioned earlier these sites make it possible to get in contact with potential customers in another way. In addition the sites provide deep insight into their lives, likes and dislikes, wants and needs (observe the activity and study the statistics).

Provider of webpublishing tools offer standard functionality so users of websites can click on buttons (iqons, links) for several social media as Facebook for sharing the webcontent (ex. article) with others in a very quick way (social plugins). To market your business, have you thought about holding contests or sweepstakes that target your customers? It`s possible through Facebook own functionallity and based on supplying software programs, which can be integrated.

Facebook and Twitter are mostly used to connect consumers, but the purpose for using LinkedIn is mostly for building a professional network and to get in contact with companies that might be suitable business partners. You can import contacts from your e-mail account into your social media as Facebook and LinkedIn. It's easy to search your email contacts and quickly grow your network. You can also do it in the opposite way by integrating social media with your personal e-mail account as for example MS Outlook, Gmail (Google-mail), Hotmail, Hoovermail etc. If someone sends you a message in Facebook, you will automatically be notified through your e-mail account.

As I consider social media, it’s not just for marketing, but can also be used as direct sales tool. The solutions are now coming up for several industries. In general I believe it`s a good idea to integrate social media with websites and business systems. The various sites and systems play different roles. What`s matter here is finding the best combination between social media sites, website and business systems that can create positive results. Whether you are a tour operator, travel agent or a tourist organisation, the big question is: are willing to be on the same arena as your customers are?

So my last advice: before you start promoting your product and service, you should study the behaviour and interests of your potential customers first. You find this information in social media, and then you are ready to start earning money from the new media.

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.

Some facts about Facebook:
More than 500 million active users
50% of our active users log on to Facebook in any given day
Average user has 130 friends
People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook
Click here for more information: Facebook statistics

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