How to make social media the silver bullet for your travel business
WRITTEN BY JAMES CAVE
Social media is usually seen as a silver bullet for businesses to achieve their marketing objectives. As well as helping to sell consumer products and promoting local events, social media can also be used to increase tourist trade during the low season.
Here are five great ways you can use social media to increase business.
Having an active presence on Twitter is a good way to increase your client base. During the low season you can schmooze with travel bloggers, who may then be open to you writing a guest post for them. You can also conduct searches for people talking about visiting your area. Jump in and suggest your own place of business; remember to be friendly. This isn’t a sales pitch; it’s the chance to build a relationship.
Offer money off codes to people following you on Facebook and Twitter to attract attention, gain business, and keep a loyal base of followers. Offering low season discounts is a successful strategy currently used by state tourism bureaus in the USA. Your followers are likely to use the discount codes as they will feel they’re getting an exclusive offer, and they’ll probably recommend you to any friends looking for an off-peak getaway.
With 750 million worldwide members, it would be negligent not to consider Facebook advertising. Paid adverts on Facebook cost very little when compared with Google, and you can target your ads based on information given by users; e.g. if your business concentrates on the honeymoon demographic you can focus on people who are engaged or are in long-term relationships.
Be creative and think outside the box; if you want to promote hotels in Mombasa, you could target fans of the Halo video game or Inception film, both of which feature scenes set in the city.
Add your site to as many directories as you can, such as WikiTravel and Google Local. It may sound obvious, but this will raise general awareness of your business among people who are searching for low season holidays.
Word of mouth is still important. Keep an eye on TripAdvisor to ensure that any negative reviews are responded to positively. Apologise to guests that had a bad time and offer them a money off voucher for the low season; likewise to anyone who has given a good review (kind behaviour should be rewarded).
James Cave writes for Skyscanner.net, an Edinburgh-based travel comparison company.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”