You can’t blame travel suppliers and companies for their myopia. For all too many years they’ve had a Pavlovian response to their brands: promote them, and get around to taking care of customers later.
Or maybe never.
In spite of all the brouhaha that suggested social media is the way to connect with and service customers, the facts speak differently, according to Hotelmarketing.com. They report that 62% of customers are looking for more support through social media. But, brand reputation and promotions still top the list of how companies use social media.
Not many destinations or destination management organizations (DMO’s) seem to use their on line presence to support the needs of their customers, or would-be customers.They’re too busy promoting the virtues of their properties to actually ask what their customers want; more importantly to answer questions and provide quality, individualized advice.
Unfortunately, the disconnect between what customers want and what companies emphasize is actually growing.
At the end of 2011, MarketTools reported that 23% of US companies provided customer service via Facebook and 12% provided customer service via Twitter.
Econsultancy goes on to point out that many companies just don’t get that they’re in business to serve the people, who spend 23% of their time on line.
Using corporate social media muscle to promote brand and not to give the people, their customers, a voice, is very wrongheaded.
Econsultancy’s Infographic highlights that the retail industry has the highest percent (45%) of customers using social media as their voice, and contacting (and getting) support through social media.
Travel and Hospitality comes in third, with an unimpressive (34%), but Health Care comes in last, with just 9 % of customers using social media to contact a health provider or hospital.
Travel executives don’t make themselves available to support and sustain their clients, to listen to the traveler.
What’s finally interesting about the infographic is that the disconnect may be the result of top brass not knowing how to use social media.
Seventy-three percent of corporations and companies said they would “use social media for customer service,” if they understood the tools available to them.
It certainly is time to get past that.