Travel and holiday companies are particularly well placed to benefit from social media. Travelling generates all kinds of personal experiences that people naturally want to share.
So it’s not surprising that some travel brands have taken to it in a big way. One is the American cruise company Carnival Cruise Lines, which has a presence on all the major social networking sites.
Carnival has its own page, and has also set up its own social networking community to help family and friends plan their cruise vacations, with a special invite tool that can be used to organise reunions and holidays. Meanwhile a blog offers running commentary on life on board a cruise ships, with a stream of anecdotes about guests’ experiences. So far it has attracted three million visitors, and the 25,000 comments shows it to be a hugely interactive communication tool.
That’s just the start. Carnival’s customers can upload their photos on Flickr, watch video clips on , and take part in a virtual tour on FunShipIsland.com along with friends and family - this clocked more than a million visitors last year. They can also communicate with the company and share experiences on its Twitter page.
Another big user of social media is Southwest Airlines, which has a presence on Twitter, Flickr, , and . The company produces regular new content for YouTube, which ensures it connects with the huge and growing video audience and boosts its search rankings. A blog called “Nuts about Southwest” is written by employees and gets 70,000 unique visitors each month. Some 8000 people follow it on Twitter. The business community is also an important target, and the on LinkedIn profile connects 3000 of its employees.
Both Carnival and Southwest Airlines are seen as “fun” brands with loyal followings, and both clearly see a presence on social networks as an ideal way to underline their unstuffy image. Southwest in particular relies heavily on the Internet for its bookings. It is also one of the most consistently successful airlines in the world, posting a profit for 35 consecutive years.
Two examples to take note of.