Earlier this month the B2B travel industry event World Travel Market (WTM) provided an outstanding opportunity for Ogilvy PR and its travel clients like the Brazilian Tourist Board to meet and network. For our travel PR specialists a particular event highlight was the Travel Blog Camp, a knowledge session on online PR and social media. It offered bloggers, journalists, travel industry and PR professionals the unique chance to discuss the impact of social and online media on the travel and tourism industry.
Run by Darren Cronian of Travel Rants (www.travel-rants.com), the Travel Blog Camp was first and foremost a forum for travel industry leaders to voice their opinions and share experiences on all things social media. As social media pros, we were pleased to learn that many of them have already embraced the new medium and its progressive possibilities.
Yet, what emerged during the session was the recognition of what social media in essence stands for – an extremely powerful and contemporary form of word of mouth marketing. With some serious commitment for generating positive word of mouth and best practice procedures in place, travel brands needn’t shy away from incorporating social media into their overall marketing strategies. As much as social networking sites like Twitter allow countless visitors to see a customer complaint, they also offer a democratic platform for eye-witnessing companies’ proficiencies in dealing with disgruntled customers.
For more information on word of mouth marketing hot topics, visit the websites of Ogilvy PR’s global 360 Digital Influence practice head John Bell who is the President of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) (http://womma.org/main/). He’s in fact opening the WOMMA Summit 2009 today. The Summit Buzz Room (http://womma.org/summit09/) is a great way to keep up-to-date with all the latest word of mouth debates.
So what did the Travel Blog Camp teach us? No matter if one is an advocate of publicly displayed criticism or not, the means of travel industry communications are changing fast. But the basic principles of customer service, right at the heart of all travel and tourism businesses, remain unchanged. Social media is another, and indeed very powerful, platform through which travel brands communicate with their consumers.