Lately, I have heard travel professionals lament the time suck that social media can be. Let’s face it, it can be if you let it. It can be addictive, if you let it. But, no matter if you like it or not; it appears to be here to stay and you ignore it at your own peril. I am not suggesting that you must dive deep into all of the platforms, but you must be aware of them and understand that your approval or disdain will do nothing to quell the surge from them.
Back in high school there were cliques—as there are today. And part of the allure to these groups was the “inside information” they had on others in the school. Maybe it was true. Maybe not. But many a reputation has been ruined because of a discussion started in a clique.
Today, they still exist. I see it every week in the online forums where the older agents tend to be hesitant to allow the newbies into the group. Granted, there are no reputations being ruined, but the conversation about the newbies does continue.
With the advent of social media, the conversations are no longer kept on the schoolyard. They are out in the open, and most of the time in public for all to see. All you need to do is look.
In the past, we all had a circle of friends and if we had a bad experience at a restaurant, we told our friends. The damage to a restaurant for a bad experience was typically non-existent. Not so today. People will go to Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, and countless other platforms (sometimes with video) to demonstrate their displeasure. Now all of a sudden, that circle of friends is a lot larger and the potential for damage is far greater.
If a client of yours is unhappy with a trip (or a part of it) you can reliably be assured they are going to talk about it and drag your name into the conversation. In a small town that depends on local business, it could be the kiss of death. Get in the conversation.
Last night, I checked in on Foursquare to a local restaurant and also cross-posted it to Twitter because I included a photo. I immediately got a Twitter response from someone I do not know saying, “I hope you have better luck than me. Was there this afternoon and the service stunk.” He had nearly 5,000 followers. Now, there are 5,000+ people aware of his bad experience.
Even if you are not using social media, you must monitor it. You need to see if there are blogs talking negatively about you. You need to see if someone is tweeting about the “worst vacation ever” courtesy of you. And you need to address it.
Most people are very forgiving. As an observer, I am not as much concerned with the actual resolution, as I am the fact that you stepped up to the plate to offer one. That alone speaks volumes. Ignoring it clearly demonstrates indifference.
So what do you do? Jump in. Introduce yourself. State your position. Offer a resolution. Do they have the wrong agency? Politely correct them and provide the correct information to them. Did this catch you by surprise? Say so; and then ask them to call you off-line to resolve it. Did you see it coming? Jump in and at least explain that you did not ignore the situation.
Whether you like it or not, the conversation will go on with, or without you. Don’t get caught blindsided.
PS. Mike Marchev turns 30 today! Click here to send him an email!