Travel Trends – The Columbus Experience, United gets Untied, Get Satisfaction!, Business Travel
The Columbus Experience – We love blogs. And we were very excited to see that our counterparts at Experience Columbus have also developed a love for blogging with their launch of the ‘Columbus Experience’ blog. I get it, Columbus Experience, instead of Experience Columbus! Anyway, kudos for launching the blog, but let’s take a look at some of the other things the team did right.
First off, great look and feel, the design complements the traditional site, but is not an exact copy. They included the social side of blogging, which will encourage more readership, by adding an ‘Add This‘ widget (two, in fact) as well as including links to other social campaigns including MySpace, Facebook and Flickr. Plus, they have added links to the staff Twitter accounts and named each of those accounts in a similar pattern…Name_ExpCols…very nice. Finally, they are linking via the News and Links section to other sites, stories and posts about Columbus. Which illustrates a point we make quite often, don’t worry about keeping people only on your site or blog, worry about getting them the best information possible so they actually travel to your destination.
United gets Untied – More thanks to Traci for pointing out this not so happy United site, untied.com. Oy, they also got a great domain name. Regardless of opinion on United or the standards of a, for lack of a better term, ‘complaint’ site such as this, untied.com does provide another sobering example for organizations within and outside of the travel industry. The internet, and the social communication that comes along with it, makes it easier and easier for your customers to vent their frustrations about you, plus quickly find other customers who feel the same way. Untied.com is a classic example. And for anyone thinking this is probably a pretty small site, no need for United to worry…when I search for ‘United Airlines’ via Google, untied.com comes up as the 5th result. Oh yeah, now I am worried.
Get Satisfaction - Speaking of customer service, not surprisingly, the age of the internet is going to bring customer service to your company whether you like it or not. For those of us in the travel industry, negative reviews on a site such as TripAdvisor are nothing new, so we should be prepared to address such concerns. However, the ability to find and resolve these consumer complaints or issues can be difficult due to the sheer amount of review sites available. For better or worse, add one more site to your list. Get Satisfaction is self-described as ‘People-powered Customer Service.’ Users create profiles for companies and begin posting their grievances for others to read about, comment on, share, etc., all with the idea that company representatives can respond via the site.
Personally, I think this type of site could be helpful for newer companies that do not have an established customer service channel. For more established companies, it could either be a positive (issues that might not have ever been addressed, in or on, one site) or a negative (more sites to monitor).
Current travel industry organizations on Get Satisfaction include Delta, United (surprise!), Marriott and Hertz, among others. In each case, there are few comments or complaints at this time (primarily because the site started out with a focus on interactive / online organizations), however the opportunity is available to begin re-shaping your customer service reputation. Take for example Whole Foods Market. Don’t look at it as customer service, but as a 1-on-1 marketing opportunity.
Business Travelers Book Online – Great stats from eMarketer: