Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Travel 2.0 reality check

So while many were disappointed that the showdown didn't take place yesterday, Ian McCaig used his appearance to offer a typically heavy dose of, shall we say, balance to the Travel 2.0 hype.

The boss is not known for his hyperbole, especially in the area of social media and how travel companies can engage with it.

The issue for McCaig is one of ensuring, as a travel provider, that you don't lose sight of the customer.

Given that the audience has just listened to Facebook UK supremo Blake Chandlee wax lyrical about the UK's biggest social media site, this a handy counterweight to the argument.

"This is all about customer behaviour, not websites," McCaig says.

He asks two reasonable questions:

* Is it important for your customers today that you engage with them through social media?

* Or is it a better employment of resources to drive through conventional media (SEM)?

Now some would argue that a clever mixture of the two might help travel companies target this enormous audience playing around with social networks.

But, McCaig says, and as we've been writing for a while (most recently here), consumers are not in a purchasing mindset when networking with friends over the web.

He brings up the old advertising adage: “Selling implies someone wishes to buy”.

This is not the case on a social network and interuption marketing does not work, he argues.

Most - including us - talk about STA Travel's efforts on Facebook, but the challenge for everyone else of how to use social networks continues...

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

Technorati tags:


Matt Cheevers said...

some sensible comments at last about social media content. Interesting now to see people changing position completely on this issue. 12 months ago Travolution and others were saying that you have to embrace this content and new world or you will be left behind. This was being being preached to an industry who couldn't even show their customers fully inclusive priced product that was available

Travolution Blogger said...

Matt: yes we have said companies should embrace social media, but equally we have always said it should be done cleverly, always remembering that the consumer should be the focus.

Joe Buhler said...

Following on my previous post, I tend to agree with McCaig about the fact that selling requires someone ready to buy and with your comment about people when engaged in social networking usually not being in buying mode. The problem with those who see these issues always in black and white terms is that it's a grey area. It's about the appropriate engagement with customers at the right time that is key. Just writing off social networks as being ineffective might put the stressed minds of those old style travel sellers at ease but they will be missing an opportunity to put their product in play by using the social networks in the right way. The people on these are after all your customers, existing or potential.

Darren said...

I agree about social media sites like Facebook etc. I've never clicked on a banner on any social media site.

I was wondering what people thought about consumers who are seeking travel advice, and use blogs like Travel Rants - are they likely to buy from blogs like these?

Travolution Blogger said...

Darren: More likely than on social media sites.

Carl at Josh said...

Selling through social media, ie facebook and others is not neccesarily where you want to go with a travel site. The travel trade needs to take another approach to social media and allow customers to participate, rate, review, discuss, comment or find each other via their own sites, integrated into their own publishing system. This should, on an anlog with other shopping sites, help to increase the sales, boost loyalty and make for an overall improved customer experience.

Alex Cybriwsky said...

I think travel 2.0 has two faces. One which encourages users to create social media. The second face takes that social media, turns it into search engine spam, and uses it to attract someone in buying mode.