Every now and then it is worthwhile to remember that even the most interesting and dynamic of marketing tactics can go wrong. All companies, including travel agencies, need to erect the appropriate safeguards to prevent an errant employee from doing damage to their brand through some form of social interaction, whether online or in the real world. Many of you will no doubt be familiar with the plight of Domino’s Pizza which last month had to combat the adverse publicity that arose when two employees videotaped themselves in a Domino’s franchise abusing food and then posted the videotape on YouTube. Similar brand-damaging acts can, and do, occur in the travel world as well. Let’s learn from one such example.
TRO monitors most social media for any mention of the term “Travel Agents“. Yesterday we noted that someone on Twitter was bashing travel agents. Upon closer examination of the poster’s profile, it appeared to be coming from inside the reservation offices of a supplier! (No, I won’t say which supplier and, no, it was not an advertiser. However, they should be). The poster, by the way, was also commenting how little she cared for being at work. Knowing that the management would be horrified, I contacted someone in the company headquarters. Twenty minutes later, the posts were gone. Fortunately, the Tweeter had only a single follower, being rather new to Twitter and apparently not recognizing how public her comments were. Also fortunate was the fact that Google had not yet “crawled” the poster’s comments – had the search engines found it before the supplier’s management taken action, the post would have lived on forever to be repeatedly revealed through searches.
This is a good opportunity for every travel agency, and supplier, to formulate an internal policy regarding social media. The potential negative consequences of the actions of an unofficial spokesperson with a virtual podium is staggering. Companies should not permit employees to identify themselves with the company brand without official clearance. Further, set guidelines as to the approved topics and tenor of each post.
Social media is a powerful tool. Very powerful. Make sure it stays in the correct hands!