Following are answers from Leisure Group Travel readers who responded to the questions: How are you using social media in your business? Are you having any success with Facebook, Twitter, Linked In or Pinterest in promoting your tours or company? Or is it a waste of your time?
I manage the social media for six Florida hotels and three sightseeing/dining vessels in Tampa Bay (StarLite Cruises). We’ve had good success by promoting our destination and partners as well as our product. We’ve created a dialogue with our followers and have received bookings as a result. We’ve also run a few contests and have been able to collect emails for future marketing purposes. One of my hotels
received a lead for 75 room nights their first week on Facebook. We like to refer our potential weddings guests to our Facebook page as it is easy for us (and the brides) to upload pictures and share them.
Laura Lothridge, President
Hospitality Solutions Tampa Bay
Success in Kansas
Tour Kansas uses Facebook as a resource to reach our members and group travel planners alike. Our page, www.facebook.com/tourkansas, started out with just a few likes and was more of a member-to-member contact method. Once we decided to utilize our page as a way to reach members, planners and the public, our page likes increased and today, we are at 329 page likes and growing. Facebook is a great tool to reach our fans in an instant, plus we can share the good news of our members, exciting new tours, upcoming events, articles about Kansas travel, general information and much more. In April, we are launching a tour planner contest to generate interest in Tour Kansas and our efforts as the only statewide association marketing exclusively to tour planners. Check us out!
Karen M. Crane, KDS CTA
Director, Merriam Visitors Bureau
I have shown “the powers that be” everything in the industry I can get my hands on and talked until I’m blue in the face, but our bank does not allow ANY of it! I feel it’s really going to start being a hindrance!
Elite Advantage Director, Hawthorn Bank
Promoting North Dakota
For us at North Dakota Group Travel, we are using social media as an extension of our existing marketing strategies. It allows me to develop new relationships where I might not have the opportunity in the traditional way. For example, Twitter: I can engage companies that apply to our market by targeting potential group tour operators, travel industry leaders, motorcoach operators and more. On Facebook:
I can showcase our location or image of our state through our fabulous photographs and also comment or interact with the group travel industry.
Deanne Cunningham, CTIS
Group Travel Marketing Manager
North Dakota Tourism Division
I’ve found Facebook to be an exciting, creative and invaluable tool in building awareness for what we do here at The RH Factor. With an audience growing faster than the number of McDonald’s hamburgers served around the world, my question is, “Why wouldn’t you take advantage of social media in any form?” Every time
I finish building an itinerary, I build a Facebook page for that tour and invite my contacts to take a look. I can regularly update that events page with photos, reminders, itinerary highlights and send follow-up messages and e-mails to those who request it. It’s fast and it’s FREE. What more could you ask?
The RH Factor
Can’t Do Without It
This is a marvelous moment for that question. I have been using Facebook very successfully for a couple of years. I’ve built friends among both my suppliers and customers. I pick up intelligence on the marketplace, I get hints that a hotel is thinking about a promotion, or that a customer is thinking about a tour. I’m fully engaged. Facebook is a wonderful tool for my business.
Now the funny part. I’ve been doing my Facebook on a personal site and have been told repeatedly that I need to move it to a business site. So, having just hired a bright young man, I asked if he could make the change and migrate all of my friends over. He said, “Yes sir, I’ll give it my best.” And he did. That young man tried hard,
I’ll not fault his effort because I was hoping to save a few dollars, but he lacked experience and I lost an important tool. So, my opinion as to how important social media is, is proved by the fact that this afternoon I hired a social media company to repair his work. I’m paying them a premium to fix this problem immediately, this week, not next, to bring back the connectivity that I had. I’ve been down for several days. I’m losing money.
Step two: Talk with professionals at length, this company and another, get competitive bids on building a social media marketing program and do it right. I’m like the guy who immediately regrets his divorce and says you don’t know what you had until you lose it.
Bob Cline, President
Alabama Uses Social Media
At the moment, our social media channels are geared toward the leisure market. We do not have any social media channels specific to the group market. The Alabama Tourism Department feels social media is a great marketing tool.
Jo Jo Terry
Alabama Tourism Department
Reaching Out to Groups
We use social media on a regular basis to reach out to our groups and to share highlights from each of their trips. We share photos of their trips on Facebook and communicate with them during their trip through Twitter. LinkedIn is a great way to promote our company and the events that we offer. Pinterest, however, is a new concept for us. We are always looking for new ways to provide our student groups with information about travel trends, though Pinterest seems to be more of a “do-it-yourself” option. Social media has been a great way for us to promote our company and to offer a more personal form of marketing.
Greg Dotson, CSTP/CTIS