It is immediate, people use it to find and exchange information quickly, to follow an interest or share something in real-time – like a video just taken or a news story just read. “We all travel and people love to talk about travel. And there is also a big focus on cost and deals,” says Greene.
Many in the travel industry – and in particular the airlines – have recognised this and already use the platform to promote deals or deal with customer queries. In fact according to a recent study by Exact Target, although Twitter has fewer users than Facebook, their regular users are the most influential online consumers.
Twitter for example, as EyeforTravel.com reported in December, accounts for 80% of American’s social traffic but is mainly used for reservations or pre-trip enquiries. Facebook, says Jonathan Pierce, Director, Social Communications at American Airlines, is used more for customer service. Having said that, American recently used Twitter for a live Twitter exchange with Dan Langford, its head of customer care.
According to Greene, a growing trend is that travel brands are incorporating their Twitter presence into integrated marketing campaigns. In doing so they are bringing online and offline together. For example, Priceline includes the hashtag #TheNegotiators at the end of their new commercials, the MGM Grand uses their Twitter handle on billboards and Virgin America has even included hashtags on airplanes. “We expect this trend to continue and become more pronounced this year and beyond,” he says.
On the horizon
While Greene stresses that Twitter exists first and foremost to deliver its growing user base of 200 million global and active users with a service that is both useful and compelling. However, Twitter is also a commercial operation and it must find ways to monetize this in, says Greene, an effective, ethical way that does not downgrade the experience.
“As part of this process we are figuring out how advertisers can leverage Twitter to reach their own users and also engage with ours,” says Greene. While the products being developed are not specifically for the travel sector, Greene believes there are natural synergies. For example, travel brands can easily incorporate photos and videos in their Tweets to more effectively communicate their messages
Greene also cites the firm’s existing Twitter card technology, which allows you to expand a Tweet to read, for example, a news post or to view a YouTube video. “This technology allows us to deliver a much richer advertising experience. We plan to expand on this technology over the coming months.”
For any travel brand – from hotels to airlines and online travel agents like Expedia or Travelocity – focused on getting users to download their app this could be a useful tool.
Another existing paid-for product is Twitter’s promoted accounts. While any brand can create a Twitter handle, start tweeting, promote a special offer and grow its follower base organically, there is also the option to amplify that using a promoted Tweet that could reach a much wider audience.
Over the course of this year Greene says we can expect to see enhancements to basic user interface. “We will see Twitter Ads products develop and will targeting analytics and attributions,” he says. A lot of work is also being done on direct response advertising where Twitter’s products work very well. Think flash sales, upcoming discounts and promotions, packaged discounts, new property introductions and so on. “Direct response is a big focus for the team with lots of new specific product road maps and features expected,” he says.
With countless social media brands – and particularly Facebook – vying for a share of the travel sector’s advertising spend, the competition is intense. Greene believes Twitter differentiates itself by being focused on real-time information and people turning to the platform for what’s happening right now, including the latest in special offers, deals and promotions. Although Twitter has fewer users than Facebook, their regular users are the most influential online consumers, according to a recent study by Exact Target. It found that active Twitter users’ reach goes beyond Twitter because they blog, post reviews, comment on news stories and participate in discussion forums. In addition, their Tweets are indexed by Google and syndicated by the Twitter API. And the list goes on. If you are not using Twitter effectively yet, it seems now is time to up the game.
Dan Greene, Director of Online Sales & Operations, Twitter will presenting at EyeforTravel’s upcoming Social Media & Mobile in Travel 2013 conference, March 18-19, San Francisco. Limited places still available.
EyeforTravel Ltd is a leading global media company specialising in business intelligence for the travel and tourism industry. Founded by Tim Gunstone in 1997, EyeforTravel produces world leading conferences, reports, webinars and news for senior executives of the online travel industry. For more information please visit www.eyefortravel.com.