Does Your Brand Have a Social Media Plan in Place this Holiday Season?

Hotel La Jolla With the holiday season in full swing, long-distance travel is at a high as people jet set to see family and friends for wintertime soirées. Inevitably, travelers will run into airline snafus and lodging hindrances. Bags may be lost, flights delayed and hotel rooms overbooked. How should travel brands prepare for potential complaints and backlash?

In order to save face and stay in the good graces of patrons, a solid social media presence is necessary. By publicly tweeting complaints and shaming companies on Facebook, customers hold a new level of power. Fortune shares the type of hate hotels and airlines typically receive on social media. Posts have the potential to quickly go viral and cause a PR catastrophe, wedging companies between a rock and a hard place. All brands, including those in the travel business, can deal with potential social shaming this holiday season with these five tips:

Respond With Urgency
Quick responses are best. By monitoring a brand’s social media tag, both negative and positive comments are swiftly discovered. Top airlines including JetBlue, Delta and Southwest abide by the policy to respond under an hour. Brands can simplify monitoring by using one of the many popular monitoring databases, including Mention, Social Studio or Talkwalker. The longer brands wait to respond to a complaint, the more impatient an already unhappy customer may become. We recommend responding to all valid complaints because it’s a great way to turn a situation around and gain a customer for life.

Personalize Messages
Customers don’t typically enjoy talking to a robot so don’t respond like one. Personalize messages to show a human is on the other end. Some popular travel brands have specific brand icons, such as Hotels.com’s Captain Obvious and Travelocity’s Roaming Gnome, who are the voice of the business. Whether a brand icon or social media staffer responds on behalf of the company, be sure each message is personalized and authentic.

Take the Complaint Offline
If your brand is negatively attacked on social media, promptly respond to the customer and ask them to direct message his/her contact information. This will keep the conversation private and avoid additional public attention.

Offer Simple Solutions
Most complaints against hotels or airlines tend to revolve around simple mishaps. Don’t ignore the small stuff. Did a flight have a 30-minute delay? Offer a food or beverage voucher. Was the check-in wait a little long? Encourage visitors to swing by the hotel bar for a complimentary appetizer. This gives your brand the opportunity to turn a negative situation into something positive.

Encourage Positive Buzz
Push out complaints and build positive social media buzz by giving customers a reason to share experiences. For example, DoubleTree received thousands of positive #cookiecare tweets for giving guests complimentary cookies upon check in. Additionally, Kimpton Hotels created a YouTube video of Mat the Yoga Mat. During its launch, our previous client encouraged guests to post quirky photos of Mat on its Facebook page. In return, they would receive special deals, giveaways and freebies. Have fun with social media and your guests will, too!

The holiday travel season can be a stressful time. Make it easier on your brand by having a social media plan in place. And if you need social media marketing guidance, contact us.