Do you Google your customer? Do you Google a property or check Trip Advisor for reviews? Before you buy anything from someone you have never met, do you Google their business or the individual and ask around to see if they have any experience of the product of individual? Millions the world over use Google to validate an individual, a product, a service. So what does Google say about you?
Are you managing your online reputation? You really cannot afford to be invisible, to have negative comments against your name or an empty LinkedIn profile. Nor can you afford to have your potential and existing customers judging you based on your Facebook profile.
Imagine this: You have an amazing group-wedding enquiry to Mauritius. We are talking lots of lovely commission and the prospect of some brilliant future repeat and referral business. You have wowed your customer but unbeknownst to you so has your major competitor. The customer decided to Google you both and finds only a Facebook listing for you, whereas your competitor has a LinkedIn and Pinterest profile complete with customer recommendations and photos all tagging them. Who will they book with?
You may be aligned to a Travel Brand but you also need to develop your own strong personal brand – your online identity that is positively visible – the customer will Google you not just your brand.
Your online identity is determined not only by what you post, but also by what others post about you, whether it’s a mention in a blog post, a forum, a photo tag or a reply to a public status update. When someone searches for your name on a search engine like Google, the results that appear are a combination of information you’ve posted and information published by others. Once you have created your online reputation you need to manage it.
Here are five handy hints and tips to get you started:
- Use the ASATA marketing toolkit and ensure your collateral has the ASATA logo on it.
- Create a LinkedIn Profile: It’s quick and easy.
- Once your profile is looking professional and complete, search LinkedIn and connect with your best customers.
- When they accept you connection, send them a LinkedIn request to recommend your services.
- Ask your customers to SMOAST about you – that means social media boasting
- Create Google Alert for your name and the name of the company for which you work. If a customer mentions you, you will be the first to hear about it and you can respond quickly and positively. The best tool to observe what is said about you and to react to it quickly is Me on the Web.
- Make sure your Facebook account has the correct privacy settings activated. You Tube has some great tutorials to show you how. Don’t invite a customer to be friends on Facebook. Keep your relationship professional so that they can judge you on your service not what you get up to on a Saturday night.
Driving the future of travel, ASATA’s Young Professionals in Travel met for the first time in Johannesburg this week. The first event saw some 40 professionals gather at Sun International Dreams’ offices to network and learn, with plans to host further events in Durban and Cape Town early 2015.
YPT is exclusively for ASATA members under or around the age of 40 who are seeking a platform to network with and learn from a group of peers experiencing the same issues on a daily basis. YPT hosts special events including speakers and seminars.
This chapter provides a platform for promising young travel industry members to network and engage their peers to help better understand their place in our industry, the role they play and the contribution they make to the development, growth and sustainability of our industry. It will also be an environment that will allow industry leadership to identify future leaders and nurture them through a mentorship programme.
In addition to an inspiring talk by Holiday Factory Sales Director Matthew Fubbs on his recipe for success, attendees hit the speed networking circuit to learn more about each other.
“I think the get-together was inspiring and a great way to share ideas and current trends. Not to mention the new introductions I have connected with this morning already,” says Lara May, National Sales Manager – Travcorp SA.
Natalie Swart, Operations Manager – XL By Arrangement says: “It really is awesome to be amongst like-minded individuals where we can learn from each other and move onwards and upwards.”
“It was a pleasure meeting with other young professionals from our industry. I look forward to the next meeting, and seeing this initiative grow beyond expectations,” says Renier van der Schyff, National Sales Manager – BCD Travel.
And Michelle Bergset, Pentravel National Sales Manager, had this to say: “I found the event to be a great mix of fun networking and awesome inspiration, Matthew really just confirmed why we have all chosen the most wonderful industry to be in, and I feel even more confident and motivated in my career choice and role. I found quite a few similarities in his journey compared to mine and think that continued meetings like these will grow us as individuals and allow us to have a group of peers we can lean on, and work with closely to become the new generation of industry managers and mentors!”
ASATA’s joint project with National Treasury aimed at developing a travel procurement framework for government is making “significant progress”.
Since discussions began in May 2014, the joint project has delivered a code of conduct, MOU and process around the categorisation of government departments and TMCs. This includes tenders, process workflows, best practice and a travel policy.
The project, run by Kim Koen from Kitso Consulting and led by ASATA CEO Otto de Vries, has been driven through a number of ASATA-established Member Advisory Forums in collaboration with National Treasury and other industry stakeholders, including FEDHASA and SAVRALA.
The project’s key objectives include:
- Compliance to Treasury regulations with irregular and/or unauthorised expenditure. Wasteful expenditure related to, no shows, last minute and non-essential travel, resulting in outstanding payments totalling millions that trickle all the way down the supply chain of services.
- Budget deficits as a result of inaccurate tracking of expenditure and misallocations that results in a direct impact on the country’s economy.
- Government’s requirement for a benefit of scale resulting in the best return on investment, value for money and a grading of TMC’s (travel management companies) to qualify and quantify companies to handle the vast array of travel arrangements undertaken by our government officials.
Part of this process is to secure a memorandum of understanding that will see government and industry (represented by ASATA) address these key objectives.
The joint project is currently compiling the executive summary that the Treasury can present to the Minister to highlight what has been achieved to date and what benefits will translate from the project.
We have also established a case log to be better track outstanding payments and assist treasury in helping industry recover overdue payments.
We will continue to keep members and industry updated on the progress.
Big Brother may be watching you, but if travel companies wake up to the massive potential of using Big Data to personalise the business travel experiences of their clients, it may just be worth it.
Big Data means using information about the behaviour of travellers through travel companies’ own CRM and other technologies, or that of a third party, to predict future behaviour and in turn use those predictions to guide the experience they deliver to travellers.
Travellers want to experience travel on their own terms; they are increasingly expecting a personalised travel experience and Big Data can help travel suppliers and the 21st century travel agency deliver this personalised, unique journey.
An example of how Big Data works in business travel:
Your client searches for ‘hotels in London’ online, which in turn delivers a full list of hotels across star categories, price levels and areas, among various other filters. In a Big Data world, the results delivered will be intuitively filtered to include a list of hotels that match the user’s search behaviour, eliminating wasted time trolling through information that has no relevance to the end traveller’s requirements or wishes.
Travel companies in South Africa are starting to use the information they have gathered about travellers’ behaviours to create individual ‘DNAs’ – unique search and booking patterns that help them to deliver personalised information and services. Big Data allows the 21st century travel agent listen to their customers’ opinions, needs and desires, engage better with customers and deliver service efficiently and intelligently.
According to a recent Amadeus study, as travel becomes more complex, customers need help increasingly in navigating through all the options so delivering information that is already personalised and targeted.
The road is long and travel companies are only now at a crucial Big Data crossroads. They have for many years had access to information about their customers – every airline reservation, every hotel stay, every car rented, leaves a data trail. But using this information to the advantage of travellers is very much in its infancy despite the obvious advantages for business travellers in future. But there’s no question, Big Brother has its eyes on all of us!