How Travel Brands can make friends and influence people using social media
With social media being an essential tool for brands to communicate with their customers, it goes without saying that many travel brands look to social media to satisfy their customers’ needs and solve problems timely. Customer query and complaint handling has taken the travel industry to a new level altogether. The reach and potential of social media platforms is evolving rapidly, which gives the travel brands a great opportunity to target a large audience online.
That being said, some of us might have thought that brands have already made the most of social media and there’s no way to grow any further. As it turned out, that’s not the case.
Below you can see some examples of how travel brands can use social media, in an innovative way.
Dutch airline KLM is already known as one of the industry leaders on social media with highest engagement rates, but this time they took their social media customer support to a whole new [and innovative] level allowing its passengers to get a boarding pass and receive flight updates through Facebook Messenger. Once a ticket is booked, KLM starts up a chat thread, where it will send booking confirmation, flight status, and any scheduling changes. It will also send over a boarding pass, which passengers will be able to use to get through security and onto their flight.
KLM provides a 24/7 support on Messenger in 13 different languages: Dutch, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, Norwegian, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Thai.
This is a huge win for Facebook too, which sees customer service as one of the next major frontiers for the Messenger app. While this is the first airline to be fully integrated into Messenger, Hyatt has also experimented with using Messenger to communicate with their customers, with mixed success. It will be interesting to see how travel brands use Messenger to enhance their customer service, and if the KLM integration is anything to go by, Messenger could soon be an integral tool for travellers.
It’s been a while since Etihad Airways has launched what would seem to be a first for airlines and social media — an invitation-only Twitter account to support its top-tier frequent flyers. Preferential customer service is the norm in the travel industry, when top elite members receive better service than others, and it seems like the same rules are going to be implemented on social media.
The @EtihadPremium handle offers help with retroactive mileage claims, access to exclusive deals, as well as five-minute response times to customer queries, which is not a big deal as the average response time on the regular account takes slightly over 10 minutes.
That being said, it’s an interesting approach to help the most valued customers cut through the crowds tweeting to the airline’s customer service team.
Everyone knows Instagram as a main social media platform for sharing visual content. With over 400m users posting around 80m images and videos daily, Instagram is growing in influence and reach, and travel brands are continuously experimenting ways to gain both followers and new sources of revenue from the visual content-sharing service.
Last month, Starwood Hotels & Resorts announced that it is enabling hotel reservations through Instagram. The hotel chain’s Tribute Portfolio brand has partnered with shopping platform LiketoKnow.it to let users book a stay by tapping photos on Instagram photos posted by Starwood-paid influencers. The process isn’t as seamless as it sounds though: When users tap one of the photos, they receive a link via email to book their stay at the hotel’s featured properties. Two new Parisian additions to Starwood’s Tribute Portfolio, Le Metropolitan and Le Dokhan’s, can now be booked in this way.
Personally, I don’t expect to see this feature rolling out widely across the industry anytime soon, however implementing booking functionality into Instagram is certainly an interesting idea.Given that there’s plenty of room for improvement for travel brands when it comes to customer service on social media, elite-only Twitter account has the potential to be successful. Also turning Facebook Messenger and Instagram into a flight or hotel booking platform sounds very promising. It will be interesting to see how travel brands use social media channels to enhance their customer service.