Again we borrow from the Greeks to bestow praise, kudos, on the doers of great
and noble deeds — or, in some cases, just
for doing the right thing.
We begin with the airlines. For a bunch of grown-ups, they complain an awful lot about how the government is out to get them, but on the matter of the
recent increase in the security-related tax on airline
tickets, they have a point. For many travelers, this tax
went from bad to ugly.
Not only was it restructured from $2.50 per boarding to $5.60 per one-way trip, it is no longer subject
to a cap of four charges per roundtrip ($10). Thus,
on some multistop itineraries the tab can now go to
$22.40 or more because
any four-hour break in a
journey is considered another one-way trip rather than a connection.
Airlines for America is challenging the tax in court
and lobbying for a rewrite in Congress, where the
House has passed legislation to reimpose a cap. But restoring a cap doesn’t fix what the U.S. Travel Association rightly calls a “critical” fault in the tax — the fact
that rather than being spent entirely on security, part
of it now goes to the general treasury.
Kudos to the airlines and U.S. Travel for pointing
out this bad precedent yet again.
Kudos also to Signature Travel Network for requir-
ing its travel agency members to become members of
It may seem a little heavy-handed for a marketing
co-op to make this a requirement rather than a suggestion, but we prefer to describe it as “bold” and therefore worthy of praise.
Marriott can also take a bow for being the launch
partner in “The Envelope Please,” an initiative with A
Woman’s Nation to place “gratitude envelopes” in over
160,000 North American hotel rooms to remind Mar-
riott guests that it’s OK to leave a little something for
the housekeeping staff.
We recognize that tipping practices across the globe
are not always easy for travelers to understand, so the
envelope might serve as a useful hint for international
And for the rest of us American slobs, it can serve as
a polite reminder to say thank you to the people who
clean up after us.
A special variety of repeating kudos is due to Carni-
val Cruise Lines for renewing its Great Vacation Guar-
antee for 2015. The guarantee offers a 110% refund
and free transportation home to dissatisfied cruisers
who notify guest services within the first 24 hours that
they want out for any reason.
Carnival says the guarantee has been invoked a mere
47 times in the last year, which is pretty good odds
against 4. 5 million guests — all the more reason why
Carnival should take a bow.
We all know the trope about “If It’s Tuesday, This
Must Be Belgium,” even if we didn’t see the 1969 mov-
ie of the same name. Alas, most cruise passengers will
get the joke if you say “If it’s 8 a.m., we must be on a
Happily, it has finally dawned on one cruise line,
Crystal, that not every leisure traveler wants to be multi-
tasking at sunrise, so it has developed some optional
short excursions that can comfortably start a bit later
in the day — say 11 a.m. or noon.
In addition to plain vanilla kudos, this utterly civilized innovation also deserves our “Why didn’t they
think of it before?” award.
ers who actively post updates about travel.
The reason I choose to interact with people whom some
might consider my competition is because the more people
with whom I interact, the stronger my network is. Building
strong connections with brand ambassadors, brand advocates and influencers increases my visibility and helps expose my business to new leads while gaining new followers.
Below are a few tools to identify influencers who can
help boost your engagement and increase your reach.
• Klout Score ( klout.com/corp/score), a number between
1 and 100 that represents influence. If you don’t have one,
get one. Also, it is a good place to identify people with
whom to engage.
• Try a few social intelligence programs to find influencers. One application I have tried is Little Bird (getlittlebird
.com), an influence marketing platform that makes it easy
to find people and content. It costs money, but
it’s worth a trial to see which people are considered influential in your travel niche, then engage
them in conversations.
• On Facebook, create a series of posts or
make a shared photo album highlighting one of
your suppliers. For example, use photos from a
fam trip or office event and make sure to tag everyone, including suppliers. Consider making a
shared album, which enables you to add friends
as contributors. Be sure to use keywords and
provide a lot of context to add substance.
• Don’t let up on your Twitter marketing. Mention and
retweet posts from travel influencers regularly, especially
when they are active during Twitter chats. To make it easier
to monitor, use a social media manager program like Buffer, Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to help you schedule tweets.
• Instagram Direct is worth exploring. It lets you choose
to whom you send photos and videos.
• Use Pinterest to reach out to people who already repin your content. These brand ambassadors might want to
help curate content on a shared Pinterest board.
3) Curate content
Social media can help travel agents gain more exposure
through engagement and increased traffic. However, trying
to find the time to consistently generate new content can
be a drain on time. Instead of thinking about creating new
content, consider “content curation,” the process of collecting and displaying information from multiple sources on a
relevant topic or interest.
The practice of resharing or repurposing popular content from the Web and sharing links to it on social media
is a good way to provide value to your audience and at the
same time keep you top-of-mind.
Try Flipboard ( flipboard.com) to see how you can quickly curate relevant information from your social networks,
publications and blogs. I use this app to share content with
my social networks, plus it enables me to keep my social
media updates in a magazine-like format.
BuzzSumo ( buzzsumo.com) is worth
a try. The site will display the most
shared links and key influencers for any
topic or website.
Google Alerts are a good way to find new mentions of
specified keywords. If you have not set up email notifications for updates regarding your niche, now is a good time
Content curation can also be used by travel agents looking for blog ideas. Mind you, content curation is not copying other people’s work; rather, it’s preparing summaries
of information about a specific topic. The goal is for the
travel agent to use his or her expertise to scour the Web
to find the freshest and most relevant content for clients,
prospects, fans and followers.
Give some of the time savers I’ve listed here a try, and let
me know how it goes.
Carrie Finley-Bajak is a social media consultant who specializes in building travel industry branding online.
Shifting from quantity to quality
Web 2.0 is the second stage of de- velopment of the World Wide Web, characterized by the shift from static Web pages to social media and other user-generated
content. Online social networks in particular have changed the way consumers discover
and use travel information. Instead of heading to the neighborhood travel agency, they
can use Google search, TripAdvisor, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest to find inspiration and planning advice.
It makes sense for travel agents to have a presence online to connect with clients and prospects. However, because of smaller budgets and
lack of resources, some agencies find themselves
at a disadvantage when deploying strategies to
reach consumers, making it hard to compete.
A common reason agents cite for not having a social media presence is a lack of time.
Although some agents I talk with express a desire to be more active on social networking sites,
digital marketing takes a back seat to other, more
pressing business matters. If this sounds like you, then keep
reading, because I have created a list of the top three social
media time savers that will help you take action.
1) Glean sharable information from suppliers
While big brands, ad agencies and PR departments are
executing social marketing campaigns, travel agents can
insert themselves into conversations that take place in the
wake of a social media push by suppliers.
Being able to anticipate how consumers will react to
content and then providing insight to help a supplier keep
conversations going is a valuable skill. Travel agents can
help facilitate conversations by acting as an expert when
fans and followers need a little extra information.
Below are a few examples of ways I organize social media
updates from suppliers so that I don’t waste time searching
for their current news:
• Use the Interest List feature on Facebook, which enables you to quickly see a summary of recent posts from
the members on the list. The Interest List feature is for your
personal Facebook page, but the information can easily be
shared with a page you manage or on your news feed.
• Google Plus enables users to create circles, which are a
great way to segregate suppliers, media, prospects and clients on Google’s social networking platform.
• Use Twitter lists to organize tweets from suppliers by
categories. I have them set up for cruise lines, airlines, hotels and people with whom I like to engage.
2) Stop trying to grow a fan base;
instead, nurture relationships
Some travel agents mistake social media success with the
quantity of people in their networks. As social networking
evolves, more emphasis is placed on the quality of the people in your network: Do they engage, act, share and follow
your lead online? If so, then you’re on the road to becoming influential, which is more valuable than the number of
fans and followers in your network.
Make sure you are doing everything possible to maintain
and nurture the relationships you already have. Have you
asked the people in your database to like, follow or friend
you? If not, make it a priority to reach out to your existing mailing list and invite them to share, comment and become a vital member of your online brand.
Develop relationships with brand advocates and influencers who share your passions. For example, I am a cruise
travel influencer. I place a high value on relationships with
cruise lines, travel media, other travel agents and influenc-