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The travel industry using social media as a marketing channel makes complete sense and for the most part, travel organisations can be commended on their social media activity.

However, in lieu of the Econsultancy/Turkish Airlines Social Media and the Travel Sector Trends briefing, it seems that sometimes things can turn sour. Here are a few examples... 

Blogs 

A few months ago, Tourism Australia’s new $150m advertising campaign launched. Using the slogan, “There’s nothing like Australia”, Aussie nationals were crowdsourced in an effort to create compelling verbal and visual snapshots of the country. Yet, within a matter of hours, the campaign had been hijacked, with a spoof blog emerging. 

Although this in itself could be potentially crippling to any campaign, what makes this partly worse is the lack of digital execution by Tourism Australia, namely by not registering the variation URLs of their website. Only holding the .com address ensured that nothinglikeaustralia.net was able to be registered by, some suspect, New Zealand’s own tourism board. 

Bookmarks

Anything negative that's floating around the internet isn’t usually great. However, it’s often exacerbated through social sharing and bookmarking, as this allows online content to spread quickly - and can even effect natural search rankings. Virgin found itself as an unlikely piece of viral content in this way, following what many people are referring to as the funniest-ever passenger complaint letter.

The Telegraph’s article has been “Dugg” nearly 6,500 times alone:

“You open the present and it’s not in there. It’s your hamster Richard. It’s your hamster in the box and it’s not breathing. That’s how I felt when I peeled back the foil and saw this...”

Online video

Generating more than three million views in less than a week on YouTube alone, United Breaks Guitars is a video that everyone’s heard of. The destruction of Dave Carroll’s instrument by United Airlines , followed by their complete lack of customer care, ensured that an unknown Canadian country and western singer would cause a bit of a social media headache for the airline operator, especially when it was picked up by the mainstream media. 

Social networks 

Returning again to Virgin, the airline infamously fired a number of staff, following insulting messages towards passengers on Facebook and jokes about faulty plane engines. 

Equally, a Facebook group of BA Gatwick staff caused a stir after they attacked passengers online, following the opening of terminal 5 at Heathrow. Both cases are now often used as case studies to highlight the importance of establishing corporate social media guidelines for staff, both inside and outside of work.

Microblogging 

 The speed and reach of the channel can be a bit problematic for organisations, especially when combined with the influence that some individuals have within the sphere. Focusing especially on Twitter, there a number of instances where individuals have created issues for travel companies.

One of the most recent is that of Kevin Smith vs. Southwest, where Smith, a film director, was told to leave a flight, as the crew thought he was too heavy to be sat in a single seat. Smith quickly began unleashing an attack on the company via Twitter and was joined by many of his 1.6m followers.

Although various issues within this instance can be heavily debated, the frantic backpedalling from Southwest and the subsequent media frenzy arguably gave some the company a considerable amount of negative press.

Jake Hird

Published 28 June, 2010 by Jake Hird

Jake Hird is Econsultancy Australia's Director of Research and Education. Follow him on Twitter and Google+, connect with him on LinkedIn or see what he's keeping an eye on via diigo

126 more posts from this author

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Ryan Alley

More and more often brands are jumping onto the social media bandwagon without putting sufficient thought into their objectives and desired outcomes. It is diffucult to succeed without first understanding what you hope to get out of the initiatives, and perhaps more importantly, what your customers stand to gain. You also need to ensure your social strategy is matched with your brand. Twitter, Facebook pages, YouTube channels and private online communities serve very different purposes and it is critical for social strategies to be appropriately aligned. Social media allows you bridge the gap between brands and their customers and build an army of advocates. Unfortunately, if these attempts to connect with consumers go horribly wrong you have also provided tools for consumers to amplify a negative message across the web. Brands must consider their objectives and their audience before diving into the social media game. Private online communities are a great way to incorporate your customers into the development or testing of campaigns and ideas before they launch to the masses.

about 6 years ago

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Rene

Ryan has it spot on. Social media as an umbrella is massive, people just think of the main platforms and dont apply the same strategic thinking they would elsewhere. Fundamentally brand owners need to consider whether they want to proactively put content in front of specific audiences or engage more widely in conversation. Social media can be used powerfully to support customer service and other commercial objectives but needs careful consideration.

about 6 years ago

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John Hyde

Great example from the Aussie campaign. I wonder if this has hurt them or just generated even more interest? Remember that Kiwis will do anything possible if they can beat the Aussies. It's like Scotland/ England.

about 6 years ago

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ghd hair straighteners

I'd like to add an interesting example of my own. My wife and I had a bad experience on our way back from our honeymoon on US Airways. I wrote a blog about it to see if they were paying attention to the blogosphere. After a few days and several hundred hits to the blog a member of the US Airways team contacted my wife and offered us vouchers for money off future flights. I also had them contact the other individuals who had commented on my blog post. Just goes to show that people are out there talking and companies need to pay attention.

about 6 years ago

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zipper bags

Thank you your data Social media failure: examples from the travel industry.

about 6 years ago

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กาแฟ

Great example from the Aussie campaign. I wonder if this has hurt them or just generated even more interest? Remember that Kiwis will do anything possible if they can beat the Aussies. It's like Scotland/ England.

about 6 years ago

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Johno

If you need to bookmark sites for research, for example news article stories about social media fails, or interesting videos, I suggest using http://www.howl.com.

It lets you post bookmarks super easy.

about 6 years ago

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Bangalow Accommodation

This post highlights the need to be careful with SM, and to use it correctly. The basics that apply in real daily life also apply online, that is, play nicely, don't slander minority groups even if the joke is funny, and allow other opinions to exist. The rules of SM are the same as real communities.

about 6 years ago

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Shennan T.

I've heard of stories in which people are buying the domain names of young athletes, in hopes that if they turn pro, they could sell it to them for large amounts of money. 

almost 6 years ago

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Anita Waddell

Following on from the last post, I've not only heard people buying URL's but also Twitter and Facebook names too.

almost 6 years ago

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Concierge

I wonder if this has hurt them or just generated even more interest?

almost 6 years ago

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Schaeffer

Terve sivusi on kiva. Kiitti tästä.

almost 4 years ago

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