The Top Social Network for Travel Suppliers to Connect with Receptives is …
LinkedIn. This was the consensus message from a panel discussion by receptive tour operators at NAJ’s recent RTO Summit West at the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey, Calif. Nor is it Twitter. Nor is it Pinterest. Nor is it Instagram. While all the aforementioned might have some useful features for receptive tour operators, the site that they rely on most for information, communication and updates concerning personnel and products is LinkedIn.
The panel—it was comprised of Patrick Swen, marketing director, Lassen Tours; Roselle Masse, product director, TeamAmerica; and Aniseh Dalju, co-founder of Onward, a new Anaheim-based receptive tour operator—was almost dismissive of Facebook as an effective medium for reaching them. Some excerpts from what the panelists said, which seemed to surprise the many travel suppliers and DMO staff in the audience for the presentation, include the following.
With Facebook, Masse told delegates, “There is such a thing as too much information … sometimes you have so much information that I disregard some. I may be old school, but I would welcome a phone call once in a while. When you have 2,000 messages or texts, it’s difficult to wade through.”
Masse said that she relied on the information on her LinkedIn account to track personnel information. “It’s useful if someone moves from one property to another,” she explained, which one can learn from updates posted by LinkedIn connections.
Said Swen: “If you are to connect with somebody by asking them on LinkedIn, it’s definitely OK … Professionally, it’s better to ask somebody if they’re on LinkedIn than if they’re on Facebook.”
And Daljuh, who only recently started her own company, Onward, after working for more than a decade with Destination America, observed, “If you’re interested in doing business with someone new … you can look on LinkedIn to see what you have in common.”
How Your Message Matters, Too: Swen drew nods of agreement from his two colleagues when he emphasized the timeliness of one’s message and its appropriateness. For instance, he noted, while smartphone apps are an absolute must not matter whether one uses Facebook or LinkedIn, one has to know how to use WeChat if one is going to sell the travel market in China. But, he said, because of regional and national preferences, if you try using WeChat in South Korea, “Good luck with that.”
The key question that a supplier must ask and answer, Swen emphasized, is, “Are you able to get your message across when you need to?”
What to Say to Those Posting a TripAdvisor Review of Your Business
“Saying ‘Thank you’ carries great emotional weight. You should say it often.” Advice like this was woven throughout the presentation of Andrew Wiens, international destination marketing sales manager for TripAdvisor as he spoke to delegates at NAJ’s recent RTO Summit West at the Ritz-Carlon Marina del Rey, California.
In fact, said Wiens, the conventional wisdom that says “If you have a good experience, tell no one—if you have a bad experience, tell everyone” is simply not true. What TripAdvisor has found is that more than three quarters of its ratings and comments are positive.
It appears that, whether it’s a good review or a bad review, the traveler, the guest or the patron who posts it wants and likes acknowledgement.
|Percentage of respondents who say seeing a hotel management response to reviews makes me believe it cares more about its guest||77%|
|Percentage of respondents who say an appropriate management response to a bad review improves my impression of the hotel||87%|
Data such as the above, in addition to data which show that quick (or “express”) responses to reviews can actually improve a business’ rank in TripAdvisor ratings is one of the reason the company offers a suite of products available to them through www.tripadvisor.com/owners.
At the core of its products, are the best practices that TripAdvisor lists for management responses to reviews:
- Sign up for review notification e-mails
- Read TripAdvisor’s guidelines
- Respond promptly
- Say “thank you”
- Be original in reply
- Highlight positives
- Address specific complaints
- Be polite and professional
Lest anyone doubted that Wiens was aware that the Summit audience included tour and travel professionals internationally, he reminded delegates that TripAdvisor operates sites in 45 countries and in 28 languages. He also displayed the following numbers.
TripAdvisor Globally: The Numbers
|Unique monthly visitors to TripAdvisor||350 million|
|Reviews and opinions posted||290 million+|
|TripAdvisor members||90+ million|
|User contributions made every minute||190+|
|Number of people who view TripAdvisor content on sites other than TripAdvisor each month||500 million+|