Long-haul specialist travel agent Trailfinders has branded social media ‘gimmicky’ saying it was not appropriate for it as a company.
Speaking at a gathering of industry bosses at Barclays Bank’s London headquarters last week managing director Tony Russell said the firm’s lack of social media engagement was not a knee-jerk reaction but a stance taken after careful consideration.
“We have taken a look at Facebook and Twitter and come to the conclusion it’s not for us,” he said. “It’s gimmicky and our product is better put into traditional tried and tested marketing methods.”
Russell struck by far the most cynical note about social media among the travel industry bosses. Others reserved judgment on the actual value of the channel despite saying they were engaging with it.
Mark Tanzer, Abta chief executive, said social media had become an important communication channel for the association to talk to the media, but he doubted how successfully the industry was grasping some of the challenges it posed.
“I don’t think we have really figured out how to deal with peer review sites, such as TripAdvisor. It’s important we have a strategy to do that,” Tanzer said.
Ash Sofat, Somak Holidays chief executive, said Facebook and Twitter were being used primarily for social reasons rather than to drive business, and he did not see them having a huge impact.
“It’s part of our overall marketing strategy and we probably devote 10 hours a week to it. There is a lot of trial and error in this area and we are certainly learning, but we are not finding huge growth in business from this medium yet.
“Maybe there is something we should be doing a little differently – we are just toying with the idea,” he said.
Gary Lewis,operations director of travel agency consortium TTA Worldchoice said: “One person in our marketing team gives it about one day a week.
“We do what we can to help members understand how it can help them and if we get feedback that it’s working, we’ll devote more resource to it.”
Paul Riches, youtravel.com sales and marketing director, said:: “We’ve engaged in Facebook and Twitter and are looking to expand into other areas.
“At the moment it’s a small return but we’re looking at it as an investment for the future. We devote about half of one person a week to social media.”
Stuart Jackson, Monarch Group distribution director, added: “Our social media strategy is in its infancy but is developing and growing.
“It’s currently working much better for the airline than for the tour operator. The last 10 years were about bricks, clicks and talking and the next 10 are absolutely going to be about bricks, clicks, talking and tweeting.
“We have a department of four or five in marketing who work on this as part of what they do, but that’s growing.”