How can Twitter help you?

2009 September 27
tags:
by velvet

If anyone has any doubts about the reach of Twitter and its function as the ultimate resource, this is a great case in point. Yesterday, I sent out the following tweet via my travel alter-ego, Velvet Escape:

velvetescape I’m planning a trip to Naples/Capri/Amalfi coast for some R&R and writing. I’m open to ideas/suggestions. Thanks!

Twitter bird singingWithin 30 minutes, I received tweets from hotels, tour operators and fellow bloggers. The general managers of various hotels along the Amalfi Coast sent me tweets about their hotels via Direct Messages, offering information and special Twitter rates. I compared their rates against the hotels’ normal rates and those found on hotel booking sites and was quite amazed by the discounts offered. In addition, tour operators sent me information on sights, tours and transfers. Bloggers sent me their articles on the Amalfi Coast and Capri with accommodation, dining and sightseeing suggestions, as well as tips on transport along the Amalfi Coast.

Within these 30 minutes, I received everything I needed to plan my trip: compare the various towns and hotels, make a list of restaurants and caf├ęs and mental notes of sights to explore, and how to get there. I was absolutely bowled over by the speed with which the information was offered, as well as the depth thereof. For travellers, Twitter is a priceless resource. For bloggers, it’s an effective channel to promote articles. For businesses, it’s the quickest way to connect with potential customers.

How can Twitter help you?

14 Responses leave one →
  1. Ann, CTC permalink
    September 28, 2009

    Anyone can send you a recommendation on a hotel based on their experience. Of course, tour operators, hotel managers are going to send you info. But are you getting what is right for you? The hotel I adored (because I was on a honeymoon and the hotel caters to that market) may not be what you are looking for (because you are a young couple with an infant). Different needs and wants. Can you get that in a Tweet? Are you going to trust the opinion of someone who is ‘following’ you but you ultimately really don’t know?

    Yes, the social media is a great tool, but it is just that – a tool. Remember that all those suppliers sending you info have an ulterior motive, to sell you something. Remember that all those individuals sending you recommendations are sending you their personal opinions, and their needs may not be your needs.

    Haha, not that I’m biased or anything ;), but keeping in mind a good travel agent to help you weed through all that info is, umm, priceless?

  2. velvet permalink*
    September 28, 2009

    Woohoo! Thank you Ann for your BRILLIANT comment! :-)
    I agree with you that social media is indeed just a tool. To be honest, I seldom go through a travel agent for the simple reason that I enjoy doing my own research and planning. In this sense, a social media tool like Twitter is priceless. I get all types of information via Twitter and I filter the bits that do not match my interests. I’m just grateful that the resources are there for me to pick and choose as I wish. That said, I do not undermine the importance of travel agents in providing ‘unbiased’ recommendations which are tailored to the client’s needs and wants. This is especially important for ‘less-experienced’ travellers or those who choose to ‘outsource’ the research/planning to a travel agent because they do not have the time or interest to conduct their own research.

    To me, the traveller, Twitter is an amazing resource. To answer your question, yes, you can get any info you want in a tweet. If you tweeted a question about planning a honeymoon in Italy, I’m very sure, you would’ve received info about tours, hotels, facilities that cater to honeymooners. The only thing is, it takes time to filter and validate all the information. On the other hand, Twitter is also a great tool for travel agents to get in touch with potential new clients and to promote their expertise. It works for all parties, and yes, everyone has their own motive when providing you with info (obviously to pitch their products, wouldn’t a travel agent on Twitter do the same?) but at the end of the day, it’s the client who chooses.

  3. Barry permalink
    September 28, 2009

    One important thing a good travel agent knows that you never receive with tweets. They have a better understanding on current business climate on suppliers, wholesalers, airlines etc…

    Where you may be getting ready to spend a thousand to several thousands with a company, a good travel agent would know to avoid, who has poor service and so on.

    That is very important. I research my trips all the time small and large but still use a local travel agent. I like the security of having someone on my side. Many times they showed me why to go with someone else then what I was looking at, but that is just me.

  4. velvet permalink*
    September 28, 2009

    Thank you Barry for your comment. I agree with you about the importance of local agents who will be able to provide the ‘inside story’. When I went on a round-the-world trip last year, I opted to arrange my RTW ticket with a travel agent instead of via the web because I felt more comfortable being able to know the person who would be arranging my ticket in case I needed to make changes to my itinerary or if I ran into some trouble. I did, however, rely on social media and the internet in general for the research and planning of my trip.

    Best regards,
    Keith

  5. Barry permalink
    September 28, 2009

    Please don’t get me wrong, I use the Internet and social media also when researching/planning my trips. However I like the security of my local company to book it once I’ve researched. Many times they have come back and said, did you consider this or I don’t recommend that and here is why. Price wise, it is pretty much dead even with what I find on the Internet.

    But again that is just me. I’m pretty loyal to our agent and use them for anything from a simple hotel room which I reserve on there website to trips over ten-thousand+. They have helped us out of a bind many times over the years. I have a good working relationship with that local agency most of them know all my likes and dislikes as they have been doing my trips for over 20 years. That is important to me at least.

  6. velvet permalink*
    September 28, 2009

    Hi Barry,
    Absolutely no offence taken. I’m really happy that this post is generating a good discussion. I’m wondering though if the message in this post might have been misinterpreted. It certainly wasn’t meant to undermine the importance of travel agents. I wrote the post to illustrate the function of social media tools as a great resource and an excellent tool for businesses (yes, including travel agencies) to reach out to new customers. For travel agents, it can be a very beneficial tool. I know many TA’s on Twitter who use it very effectively to promote their services, expertise and destinations. Actually, there’s a whole campaign going on right now (Monday), set up by a group of TA’s, to assist Mexico’s battered tourism industry. Look up the hashtags #Mexmonday or #MexicoMonday. They’re doing an outstanding job.

    Thanks once again for your comments. Really appreciate it.

    Best regards,
    Keith

  7. September 28, 2009

    Keith–As a luxury-focused travel consultant, Twitter gives me the opportunity to position myself as such to thousands of consumers looking for advice/suggestions with their luxury travel plans. I’ve been contacted via Twitter by nearly 20 consumers in the past few months requesting assistance with everything from help booking honeymoons & weekend getaways to private villa rentals & yacht charters. In this tight economy & ultra-competitive environment my active participation in Twitter gives me an edge over the travel consultants who are not reaching out to those this way. I find Twitter to be the best form of direct marketing as those who are following me have actually chosen to do so. It’s much more effective than sending direct mail out to people who may not have any interest in my services. I love being able to assist my Tweeps, whether it’s with their travel plans or solely as a resource for them. My feeling re: Twitter is “You Get What You Give!”

  8. September 28, 2009

    I know for a fact that Keith @ velvetescape is a friend to the travel agent community and promotes the use of travel agents. I know this because he regularly re tweets my posts. I am a homebased travel agent in Freeport IL and I have been in the travel industry for over 15 years.

    I think some are misinterpreting his comments. I believe he was trying to show the power of twitter and how it is used by the travel industry as a whole. Keith provided me with research in developing a webinar I presented to travel agents on the benefits of using social media (available at http://www.mailpound.com) and wrote an ebook that complemented the presentation which is available on my website http://www.traveldesigned.com

    I use social media in a number of ways. First to develop relationships with potential clients, secondly, to market and drive business to my website, and last but certainly not least, to network with agents, vendors, hotels on the latest travel information. Twitter in my opinion is today’s most powerful tool for travel agents. Let’s not kid ourselves, no one knows it all, and we can all benefit from the use of social media, it is an ever flowing fountain and source of knowledge that is shared freely.

  9. velvet permalink*
    September 28, 2009

    Thank you Stacy & Stephanie for your comments. I can only agree! :-) Seriously, I think Twitter can certainly play a major role in direct marketing for travel agents. The resources available on Twitter will only serve to complement the role and services of a travel agent.
    Thanks for participating in this discussion. Really appreciate it.

    Best regards,
    Keith

  10. velvet permalink*
    September 29, 2009

    Check out this article I tweeted today about the importance of travel agents.

  11. Ann, CTC permalink
    September 29, 2009

    Ummm… I think I love you? :)

  12. velvet permalink*
    September 29, 2009

    Hahahaha! Good one! Great article by the way. Are you on Twitter?

    Best regards,
    Keith

  13. Ann, CTC permalink
    September 29, 2009

    No. Bad me, I guess… Yes, the article was good, as were the related ones. Pointing out the pros and cons – this is good.

  14. velvet permalink*
    September 29, 2009

    Oh goody… sign up to Twitter and follow me @velvetescape and @velvetconnect. I’ll show you around and introduce you to some great people. It’ll be awesome to follow your experiences. :-)

    Cheers,
    Keith

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