Plane, air tickets, passport, notebook and phone with headphones on pastel background. The view from the top. The concept of planning and preparing for the travel

In meme we trust…

Billboards are expensive. International campaigns starring Hollywood A-listers are ridiculously expensive. Winning fans 280 characters at a time is a lot cheaper. In fact, one could say social media is priceless ground for airlines. From live tweeting March madness to time effective help, Twitter, Facebook and social media teams can make all the difference and in a recent experiment the numbers matched…

a plane on the runwayAs a frequent traveler who’s fortunate enough to have many benefits which make travel questions into first world problems, I wanted to pose a scenario and see which way people would go, given my choices. I took to twitter, like many others would, and laid out my two primary flight options.

Don’t spend too long pondering the question, because it’s semi irrelevant. It’s just the amuse bouche. If you look through the replies, you’ll see the relevant thread not far downfield. One airline saw an opportunity and swiped in for the business, in a term social media friendly millennials would describe as #Savage.

As someone faced with two first world choices, I was pretty genuinely happy to fly either airline, but part of me really loved the savagery of the Virgin Atlantic tweet. It felt personal and it added an emotional quotient to a decision which was frankly pretty vanilla and boring. Feeling this uplift, I couldn’t help but wonder if others may feel the same way. After all, airlines are fighting tooth and nail on price matching, so if all prices are equal – what sways a decision? We then put our audience to use with a poll on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

“When airline social media teams are clever, responsive, helpful or funny, does it SWAY your future #Travel, even slightly? Feel free to leave anecdotes too….

55% of Facebook respondents said yes, 58% on Twitter and 79% on Instagram. At the very least, one out of two potential customers therefore agree that a witty meme, quick reply or helpful link could actually sway their business. In this instance, it did mine. Virgin Atlantic has a four figure sum in its pocket which its direct competitor does not, simply because they made me laugh. For most people – it’s timely advice, help making a change or something more practical that sways their love on social media, but this is just an example of how simple it can be. Not everyone is on social media, nor will they ever be, but as millennials open their own checking accounts, a larger percentage of the traveling public is on social media, and there’s priceless ground to be won.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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