Sunday, May 3, 2009
Losing/Gaining Revenue and Reputation...Here's How:
Now I know this blog is focused on how travel companies can make more money....but I wanted to write about how companies can lose money - by doing the wrong thing online. I've been watching to see how major vacation sellers respond to the current Swine Flu crisis - and how they communicate rapid changes via their websites and social networks. Here are a few grades for the largest sellers of Mexico leisure travel:
Apple Vacations, receives an "B" for effort and execution. Mexico travel is key to Apple, and with 1,648 Twitter followers and 558 Faceboook fans, Apple gets snaps for addressing this crisis with frequent traveler updates on social networks and on their website. The only reason Apple doesn't receive an "A" is because according to some Tweets and FB comments, its website was down for some time, and folks couldn't access vital info. But, we all know the online gremlins, so we need to give Apple some leeway on this one. Most importantly, the info and updates are timely, appreciated and top-notch.
Expedia, receives a "C" for its efforts. Granted, the Flu Advisory for Mexico is well-positioned on its homepage, but in reviewing Expedia's recent Tweets to 7,230 followers, I only see sales promotions and little about travelers' flu concerns. Expedia is the #1 leisure travel retailer, and these concerns are front and center. If Expedia did a better job listening to Twitter conversations, it would engage in the discussion with useful info.
Funjet Vacations, which is part of the much larger Mark Travel Group, receives an "A+." With only 291 Twitter followers, and a Funjet Vacation page with 390 fans, Funjet updates its Mexico Advisory page often, tweets about it regularly, and positions it front and center on its website. Further, the information is timely and relevant. And, like other travel sellers, Funjet promotes "fun" and great deals on vacation packages, but it weaves updates regarding travel to Mexico just as often. Kudos for Funjet in listening to its online customers.
The #2 online travel agency, Travelocity, receives a "C", like its colleague, Expedia. The last time it communicated info. regarding travel to Mexico to its 2,388 Twitter followers was 5 days ago on April 28, and the 943 followers of the Roaming Gnome will read tweeted chuckles but no info on Swine Flu and travel - You'll Never Roam Alone indeed. Really? The website does offer a link on its homepage to travel advisory info, but it doesn't date the info page, so I don't know when it was last updated.
Unfortunately a failing grade goes to my old alma mater, Liberty Travel, which offered its 94 Twitter followers nary a single tweet about travel to Mexico, among its 85 total updates. Since Liberty is new to Twitter, I checked its website, and there too was no mention of Mexico or travel updates - its as if the country fell off the Liberty Travel radar screen. To make matters worse, the new Liberty Travel website doesn't have a "search" box, so I couldn't even look for info. regarding its policies for travel to Mexico. I did, however, see several compaints on Twitter from @CatGray and @ChrisCamm, expressing dismay at the lack of response. Now here's an area that Liberty could have done some damage control by listening to conversations, and responding publicly.
So there you have it, readers. Social networking and website communications can not only help promote sales, it can enhance/diminish your online reputation too. And that affects the ability to make 'mo money.