Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Can Social Media help combat the demise of brand loyalty?

At EyeforTravel’s recent Social Media & Mobile in Travel event in San Francisco, Lee McCabe from Facebook quoted Jim Abrahamson, CEO, Interstate Hotels & Resorts - “We’re going to see the death of brand loyalty”

McCabe highlighted the fact that people are travelling more than ever, income levels are rising and technology has enabled customers are planning and sharing their travel ideas and experiences more and more, inspiring others to travel.  It should be a great time for travel brands and yet in reality the travel space has become more complicated and many execs are feeling the pressure.
Does brand loyalty exist in this hyper-competitive space?  What should travel brands be prioritising to win customers and compete?

McCabe highlighted that brands should focus on building good connections with their customers and work on turning them into influencers.  He advised that taking the approach to build connections on Facebook as quickly as possible through sweepstakes and competitions, is not the right way.   Instead brands need to invite their existing customers to be fans on Facebook and encourage them in turn to influence those in their network to also become fans. 

With developments such as Facebook Graph Search, the influence of a friend’s network with play a stronger role in their decision to purchase.  Encouraging customers to share their travel experiences post their stay is often a forgotten tool in the travel marketers armoury to help to further influence travellers at the dreaming and planning stages.

It can certainly be said that the connections a brand has will become more and more important in the near future.  In addition, customising message and ensuring consistent connectivity across multiple devices will play an important role in influencing a customer’s decision to choose your brand.
Facebook will be sharing more insights into the above at EyeforTravel’s TDS Europe Summit in London, 23-24 May.  Feel free to drop any questions you may have to them to me (