Airline and Hotel Social Networks Worth Joining
Smart companies are taking full advantage social media by interacting with customers in innovative ways. Travel providers—including airlines and hotels—are no exception, and this strategic shift has many benefits for business travelers who know where to look.
Kudos to Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) for its recent launch of a social circle strategy. In an email to its members, SPG directed them to spgpromos.com/socialmedia, which displays all the various contact points for engaging with SPG, including Facebook, Twitter, an iPhone app, FlyerTalk.com and SPG’s Starwood Lurker—and, of course, Starwood’s blog, TheLobby.com, which has been around since 2006. TheLobby.com is the best place to get an inside view of upcoming Starwood properties, as well as travel tips for the areas where the company’s hotels are located.
Starwood’s presence on Facebook features SPG TripShare, where Starwood customers can add their own photos or browse trips for travel. @SPGInsider, on Twitter, is the official voice of the program and a great place for members to share their own feedback. SPG’s Twitter presence features Carrie, the official SPG Chirper, while @SPGInsider offers tips on hot spots, must-see attractions and more from fellow travelers and local experts, and you can also share your own insider secrets. (This channel is still in its infancy and will need some time to catch on.)
Starwood Hotels offers a free iPhone app, focused on the SPG program, that members can use to check their accounts, find and book hotels, access customer support, visit TheLobby.com and more. The app caches user account and reservation information, in case members need to access that data in places where they can’t find a network signal.
To learn more about what’s available on Twitter for business travelers, visit BoardingArea.com. Click “About Us,” and a “BoardingArea on Twitter” link will drop down with nearly 100 travel-related links, including @JetBlue or @JetBlueCheeps (basic information about fare deals, last-minute discounted flights, customer service Q&A), @MarriottIntl (members-only deals for Marriott Guest Rewards, sometimes before they’re offered to the general public), @UnitedAirlines (problem resolution and “twares”—airfare sales specifically for Twitter users), @HyattConcierge (a virtual concierge that provides similar services to what you’d find at your favorite brick-and-mortar Hyatt location) and @JDVHotels ( Joie de Vivre Hotels of California, with special rates and “Mobile Mondays,” where you can receive special offers at JDV hotels, restaurants and spas when you text “JDV” to 888999).
When it comes to taking advantage of new social media tools, SPG has always been further ahead of the curve than other travel loyalty programs, and it can be seen as a leader. But other programs won’t be far behind in engaging their own member circles, so you can safely expect to see more such tools in the future.
Twitter cheat sheet
A few travel companies that use Twitter to offer discount updates, problem resolution and company news:
RANDY PETERSEN is the publisher of Inside Flyer magazine and president of Frequent Flyer Services. Email Randy at firstname.lastname@example.org.