cleartrip.com, expedia.com, MakeMytrip.com, Social media, social media marketing, social media strategy, travelocity.com

I’m Your Friendly Neighborhood- TravelWebsite

The genesis is interesting. During one a gyan loaded knowledge session with an agency, I realised that some of the points are worth considering. And so did I, after 3 days, started thinking on social media, community, travel application et al and collected some of these threads (at the fear of loosing them).
First some usual stuff about the social marketing buzz. It is fashionable to be on Facebook (the no of fans decides the success) and twitter (“how many followers you have dude”). Undoubtably, Social media marketing is the most potent jargon to get attention in seminars these days. Truly, there isn’t a dearth of social media evangelists.
Also some and fact (as a marketer)- there are handful of successful case study on the subject of social marketing. Social Media does gives an opportunity to interact and engage with the consumers (for the first time in history of marketing real time) but will you as a marketer consider as an arsenal to drive your campaign. How much time is required, is the next question and “no” is decisive answer for this question as well. And the performance benchmark? Social Media doesn’t have all the answers as of now.
Evangelist would differ, and are hopeful, they would say (Starbucks has 3.7 mln & Coca Cola has 3.5 mln & Facebook 4.4 mln fans on Facebook as we speak). Is the number of Fan the only performance benchmark?
Well all that is ok, but where does social media feature in online travel, where the bread and butter (for majority of vc funded travel site) is traffic acquisition and its performance. Online traffic needs to have a healthy ROI. Each channel is measured. So, where does the social media fit in with limited credentials as a case study and with no estimate of time and resources.
So coming to core of my thoughts. If I were to have an objective for social media plan around travel what will it be? To be on facebook and get million fans, to be on twitter and get million follower or to start a blog and get zillions of people to recommend…
Nice start, but not enough. The objective should be derieved out of the service offering, business goal and brand gene/goal. It may sound simple, however difficult to execute. Starting conversations is not easy.
At the cost of being repetitive, the idea should be to get the social media flywheel going (Dave Evan’s). This is the magic of social media, where for the first time marketers can actualy work in complete circle. Unlike earlier, as in tradional marketing, the cycle doesn’t stop with campaign and stimulus. The responsiblity of marketing goes overlaps with operations, encourages recommendations by the users and in process creates brand advocates. The vetran social media strategist Chris Bogan, calls them as trust agents. His mantra is to use web to create influence, improve reputation and earn trust.
Travel is no different from this global approach. Ideally, if the brand can convert more and more people into ambassadors, the brand will witness positive effect on conversions. There has been some activity around this…
1. MakeMyTrip.com: has Offisial atyachar.com (http://offisialatyachaar.com/, holiday promotion platform) with a fan page and makemytrip on twitter
(http://twitter.com/makemytripdeals). Check out the Anthem on offisialatyachaar.com; it’s a complete riot! Some work in the category.
2. Cleatrip: Innovative in social marketing sphere. Quite active on twitter and facebook. The Kiruba incidence has put their recognition right there.
3. Travelocity: is driving the social media through “The Roaming Gnome”. (He was in San Diago yesterday with an interesting video)
4. Expedia: Some presence here and there, but the focus is not as pointed as cleartrip or travelocity.
There is also example of Cleatrip is clearly the thought leader in the travel vertical and is doing a commendable job from marketing perspective. Right from the corporate blog, to twitter presence and the interacting with the fans, Cleatrip has it act in place. The updates are regular, informative and entertaining. Cleartrip is setting a great precidence and creating a web of social interactions through conversations, leading to relationships.
Maybe a lot of thinking and now a time for to act!
Cheers!
PS; Check out Fan page of Lord Ganesha on the Facebook
Here’s a great list of travel twitter apps from PhocusWright blog.
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dave evans, Social media, social media marketing, social media strategy

Dave Evan’s Social Media Marketing Seminar


Another article on the latest fad. Social media and what not!

And on twitter, which is growing by 1444% (nearly 19 Mln users)

I was at Dave Evans seminar organised by 2020 Media (#2020media on twitter) on 22nd June 2009. Quite good things at the event and unlike ones organised by IAMAI. The participation was from traditional marketing teams such as Pepsico, PR agencies and Traditional Agencies. Good turn-out to start with, but didn’t get to meet active guys at the twitter forum, except Gaurav Misra (@gauravnomics).

Maybe I need to be more active on Twitter.

So what is in for a service oriented e-commerce enabled travel intermediary, focused on providing lowest airfares to its visitor in social media. True to it’s performance DNA, measures ROI and benchmarks conversion and uses state of the art optimisers, tools. More over e-commerce as a category is one of the largest spenders on Google and has liaisons with other ad networks which gives it close to 20% reach in the digital world.

Life is good. Product managers are making the user experience better.

Not just loads of academic social media MARKETING concept at the event, there were few sparks of implementable solutions.

Two of these I found blog-able…

1. The Social Flywheel

Traditional Purchase cycle ends at conversion. Look at this cycle…

Acquisition —-> Consideration —-> Purchase/conversion

Marketers work at every stage of this funnel and a traditional business would “optimise” every step. Conversion once done, the retention cycle (classic CRM) takes over. Customer repeat rate or satisfaction index would be a measure of the marketing efficiency. This is our traditional marketing cycle.

Dave has extended this cycle, and in the realm of new media opportunity, this becomes…

Acquisition —-> Consideration —-> Purchase/Conversion —–> Product Trial —-> Word of Mouth/Recommendation —–> Purchase/Conversion

The last part of this funnel, Daves calls as the “Social Flywheel”, and has a positive impact on the conversions. The social media plan works on this flywheel and keeps it going to better the conversion. Not just acquisitions but also post purchase word of mouth is the key to strong competitive.

2. Marketing and Operations don’t work in silos, they have areas in common.

Marketing doesn’t end once the costumers has purchased the product, it is only the start of the experience. More true in service category where the product is not tangible. Traditional Marketing companies have embraced this fact and are first to realise the customer needs and wants. Pay a huge emphasis on customer needs and wants and listens to customer conversations.

Service companies, relies on the CRM and after sales support for the same objective. Here, marketing can’t wash it’s hands off and needs to equally connect with customer so that it positively influences the purchase cycle.

Take for example a typical case of flight ticket purchase from a typical website. The onus of marketing wouldn’t just finish after the new customer acquisition; it would need to put a similar effort to resolve any issues related to date change, refunds upon flight cancellation to create a great word of mouth. Else the customer would get a sense of being fleeced.

Two great actionable points and worth trying out, I thought.. Like a complete strategy. To start with, I’m active on Facebook.

It is all about conversations!

Cheers!