When was the last time a client walked into your office and asked you to print a boarding pass? When was the last time you went home with red fingers? When was the last time you printed a paper ticket? When was the last time a cruise company mailed documents in a document jacket to you for your client’s upcoming cruise? When was the last time you mailed a postcard advertising the latest specials in your agency? If I had to guess, the answer likely is “a long time ago”.
Times have changed. When I closed one of my offices, we discovered a pack of carbon paper behind a counter. My children looked on in awe as if we had discovered the missing link or the Loch Ness Monster. When I opened it up, they were at a loss as to what to do with it. The point I am trying to make is that if you are not changing with the times, you are likely going to wind up like my kids and the carbon paper—mystified and clueless.
Last week, I began to take part in an online conversation regarding social media. And to be honest, I bowed out rather quickly. I was completely disappointed at the reaction (or lack of it) to social media many agents are taking. The initial inquiry was about a man who sent a tweet looking for advice on travel to the Amalfi Coast.
I’m planning a trip to Naples/Capri/Amalfi coast for some R&R and writing. I’m open to ideas/suggestions. Thanks!
The comments in response were amazing. Some agents berated him for doing it on his own. Others said they were too busy to learn Twitter or Facebook. And others still immediately dismissed the notion as being a ridiculous way to communicate. To those agents, pick up your rotary dial phones—here’s your wake up call!
This is the way your clients want to communicate with you!
How many clients have come into your office lately with a request like that? Wouldn’t the sensible response have been to reply to his tweet and perhaps direct him to a page on your site that discusses the Amafli Coast? If you are sitting in your office waiting for the phone to ring while everyone is on Facebook, how much business will you get? You need to change with the times.
Going back to my kids for a minute; they have had the same email addresses for over ten years. Zero percent of their e-communication is by email. It is by texting, IMing (also dying), tweeting and Facebooking. When I send then an e-mail, I get a “mailbox full” response. Yes, you read that right, e-mail is on the way out.
Do you need some more convincing? How about March 2009’s “Global Faces and Networked Places” – Nielsen’s report (PDF) on “Social Networking’s New Global Footprint” which states that social networking has taken over e-mail in popularity on the Internet. The report is fascinating!
Need more proof? Absolut vodka is one of the world’s most recognizable and valuable brands. You recognize the product without labels, without description, and without sound. I would venture to say that they probably have a leg up on every travel agency in terms of marketing know how to a targeted audience. Look at their new television ads. The very last thing you will see is
Why Facebook? Because now, they have a site that has two way communication with their targeted audience. Do you remember your teen years and the peer pressure you faced? Facebook is a master at peer pressure. Just look at all the fans of Absolut—you know you want to be one too! And once you are a fan, Absolut has an entre to you—and your friends. Had they just tagged the ad with their website, they may have seen some traffic, but there is no real hook to get the web visitor to come back. However, once they have you as a fan, they can send you their newest commercial, perhaps let you know about a contest to go to Finland, or just send you a message to say hello.
Some in our industry really do need to wake up. Our customers are speaking a different language now and if we don’t know how to converse, we might as well set up shop in Siberia. The learning curve may be a challenge, but the numbers cited in the above report should be alarming to everyone. It’s worth it!
And, by the way, are you following TRO on Twitter?