Thursday, September 13, 2007

We need to talk the language of social networking sites

Our latest column for Travel Weekly:

Is there any value in engaging with social networking if you are working for a travel company?

This is a critical question that needs answering now that millions of people are gripped by the social networking frenzy.

It is worth pointing out that by “social networking”, I mean using sites such as Facebook, Myspace or Bebo, rather than taking off to the pub for a drink – although the similarities for travel are not too different (just remove the alcohol element).

At a Travolution advisory board meeting earlier this summer we asked some of the leading figures in the industry how they felt a travel company could engage with sites such as

The group agreed that travel companies should not try replicating what social networking sites are doing. “Stick to what we are good at”, would summarise the opinions of the group.

In fact, “it is not that easy to go and generate a community,” said one member.

However, what travel companies should be doing is learning how to engage with people that are using these sites. Previously people would talk to friends, family and agents when looking for ideas as they considered where next to go on holiday.

This is still taking place, but people are happy to do this on a social networking site – sharing videos and memories.

Some travel companies are learning how to do this quickly. and have developed quirky – and useful – applications that fit into a member’s page.

Whether they are getting any leads from these toys is another matter. But they are right to try. For perhaps one of the best examples, look at the STA Travel page on the same site.

The agency is not trying to be a social network, but has managed to create enough of a presence that it is talking the language of the social networker.

NB: Join the Travolution group on Facebook. Or the Travel Weekly Group.

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

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Anonymous said...

have you reviewed social network ?

Travolution Blogger said...

Anonymous: Had a look. very good for musos i reckon. nice clean site as well.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's just me but does anyone else think that STA have gone a bit OTT with all the images etc?

They are obviously doing something right though, with over 12,000 members, and it's a great example for those travel companies that are thinking about using social networking to promote their brand and products.

Travolution Blogger said...

Darren: It is certainly not OTT from STA's perspective with that many "members".

and still looks less cluttered than most pages on MySpace.

Anonymous said...

Could Travelution perhaps produce an article that explains how best to utilise Facebook and other social newtworks for marketing or other promotional ideas?

I'm just getting a bit confused with this whole social networking area.

Travolution Blogger said...

Colin: It's on the agenda, don't you worry.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Kevin,

There are so many things we need to be doing now online that its' starting to become a bit bewildering so anything to help will be "gratefully received".