Not long ago, a customer frustrated with the service at a hotel or airline would take their complaint to a check-in desk or toll-free number. The issue could be resolved with no one but the brand and the individual knowing about it. If the issue wasn’t fixed, the biggest risk to the brand was the loss of a customer, and perhaps the handful of people who the customer told about his or her negative experience.
Those seem like the good old days from the perspective of today’s marketers. In 2015, social media has transformed the relationship of customer and hospitality brand, raising the stakes in a number of ways. Customers now live tweet their flight delays or post photos on Instagram of maintenance issues at their hotels and instantly reach thousands of people. Bad word of mouth can spread faster and farther than ever before.
As social media has moved customer service into the public eye, travelers’ expectations have risen as well, as they come to expect personal assistance from airlines and hotels more quickly than ever. The volume of social media interactions has also escalated. In Q2 of 2015 alone, airlines received more than 357,000 questions via Twitter and almost 85,000 questions via Facebook, according to Socialbakers.
But as the world’s major hospitality companies have scrambled to meet these challenges, they have dedicated as much, if not more, of their resources toward tapping into the brand-boosting opportunities presented by social media. Travel brands are expanding their social care teams, moving into new platforms (particularly mobile and social messaging), and finding creative ways to not just solve problems, but to make a good experience great and let their followers know about it.