Social media appreciation on Twitter Carly McCrory and Visit Savannah

Surprised to learn that people book travel based on whether you’re responsive online?


Visitors these days turn to Twitter for interaction with travel brands, especially to get help with the airlines rather than sit on Hold with a call center.

What does that mean for the tourism and hospitality industries?

I think that hotels, CVBs (Convention & Visitors Bureaus,) DMOs (Destination Marketing Organizations,) Tourist Boards, and Chambers of Commerce that handle tourism should also start thinking of Twitter as more of a powerful quick-response visitor/guest service tool and less as a place to broadcast content, like everyone else is doing.

The Engagement Problem

Right now, it’s tough to beat Instagram for engagement among all social channels, although Twitter co-founder @ev Williams snorts,

“Twitter is what we wanted it to be, [a] realtime information network. I don’t give a sh*t if Instagram has more people looking at pretty pictures.”

Other than during major breaking news, sports, or entertainment events, it can be hard for people to see the value in this “realtime information network.”

Is Twitter even worth the effort, particularly when you hear that you “have to” tweet 5 – 25 times a day to rise above the noise?

If you’ve logged into your Twitter analytics lately, you may be discouraged by low engagement rates. As a point of reference, my engagement rate so far this month is only about 1.4% for my personal @SheilaS account, with 28K followers. Anecdotally, I’ve sensed a dropoff in responses/engagement since I first started using Twitter in late 2007.

However, when I’m involved with other people in a Twitter chat, or tweeting in conversation with people in my network, it is much higher, and this got me thinking about the real power of Twitter.

Win By Engaging with Visitors & Helping Them

In tourism and hospitality, you will get high-quality engagement on Twitter by being the responsive expert voice for your destination, attraction, or hotel. When you’re tagged (referred to by your @ Twitter handle in a tweet) make sure that you respond quickly and give people the information they are seeking.

When you’re doing that, you’re helping actual people – current, former, and prospective visitors – instead of sending out tweets in the crossed-fingered hope that maybe someone, anyone, will see them.

Twitter screenshot of Oklahoma state tourism ideas for a CC Chapman road trip

The real power of Twitter in tourism is direct interaction. Screenshot of Oklahoma tourism ideas for a CC Chapman road trip through part of the state.

The people that you help on Twitter will remember your responsiveness, and I guarantee they’ll talk about it on their own social networks.

Other brands may schedule a bunch of shouty tweets all day to win the numbers game, but don’t get caught up in that high-volume race. You won’t win and you’ll annoy followers.

Shift your thinking about this particular social media platform, and realize that no one can beat you as a digital concierge who can be trusted to respond to questions, give specific advice, and share your visitors’ great photos, video, tweets, and blog posts with your followers (they’re doing your marketing for you, and that means less work for you!)

Many Folks Still Say They Don’t “Get” Twitter

If you have been active on Twitter for a long time, then it probably makes sense to you.

You have had time to watch the service evolve, recover from the too-frequent “Fail Whale” in the early days, and you have an active network of “tweeps” who feed you news before it shows up anywhere else, plus they help you make crucial connections and introductions.

You know how powerful Twitter is for your own professional development and networking when you use it to follow conference hashtags, or to connect with travel bloggers and other online media.

You also know that there’s a monthly #tourismchat live chat on Twitter, right? Follow the @tourismchat Twitter account and go here for #tourismchat news and dates.

If you are not active on Twitter, or you are new to this particular social media platform, it can be very confusing. Frustrated Twitter investor Chris Sacca recently wrote a detailed post about this, pointing out in his What Twitter Can Be ….

  1. For most people, Twitter is too hard to use.
  2. For most people, Tweeting is scary.
  3. For most people, Twitter feels lonely.

If Twitter is still a head-scratcher, now is the time to give yourself another shot at figuring out how it can work for you. Reconsider how you want to use Twitter, or any social media, to support your overall strategy and goals. Perhaps Twitter is more than a marketing platform, and its customer service capabilities deserve a closer look by your entire organization.

Here are some thoughts that I shared this summer as an instructor at a TTIA Travel and Tourism College session on Twitter for tourism:

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