Although new forms of digital social interaction epitomised by the likes of Twitter are a powerful tool for companies, dnata UK's Andy Freeth says there's still no substitute for engaging face-to-face
You might want to grab yourself a brew and have a sit down for this. I’m going to say something that might come as a bit of a shock.
I think we all might be a bit better off spending a little less time on social media. There. Blimey. How do you feel?
Now don’t get me wrong, everyone knows I love a bit of Twitter. And you certainly won’t find anybody in all of the Travel 2 and Gold Medal businesses who isn’t wholly behind our online marketing efforts, whatever the platform. We all know that social media is a powerful tool and one that companies and agents alike need to embrace to engage with customers.
Get the social media right and customers will want more from you. It’s a great way to share the latest deals, run competitions and, as agents, really shout about your skills as specialists.
Forums for intolerance
But it was the Brexit kerfuffle that got me thinking. Whether you were a ‘Remainer’, an ‘Outer’ or even a ‘Please-God-make-it-ender’, I think we can all agree things have been a bit fraught and overheated in the last few weeks. And if your timelines have been anything like mine, the whole EU issue has turned up some pretty anti-social views.
It strikes me as ironic that tolerance and fair play – quintessentially ‘British’ qualities – have been in short supply. The travel industry has these principles at its very heart, and it is incumbent on everyone who works in the business of holidays to promote understanding, build bridges and ensure our customers develop a greater understanding of this, and of other countries.
Allied to that, though, is the thought that perhaps we all spend too long living outside of the moment. It’s hard to see how we can honestly claim to be experts in the world when we are increasingly used to viewing it via a Twitter feed.
Academics at Princeton University have already identified ‘Facebook fatigue’, and I’m sure we’ve all suffered from it to a degree. You know the symptoms: bored of your friends’ selfies and annoyed at unsolicited political opinions. And yet we all carry on.
Live in the present
Like I said before, I love social media and have long waxed lyrical about the role it can play for us all in travel. It’s a great way of aggregating news, inspiring customers and keeping up to date with the lives of our friends and colleagues. And yet, I’m becoming increasingly mindful of using it too much.
As an industry, we are a sociable bunch and I believe this contributes massively to our success – from the MDs at some of the world’s biggest travel companies to the frontline staff dealing with customers on a daily basis. It’s important that we don’t forget the role that these skills play by opting to network with suppliers and engage with customers online as a first port of call.
In fact, at the risk of sounding like a hippy, I think there is a lot to be said for mindfulness and really being aware of life around us in the moment.
While social media is a wonderful thing and definitely has its place, at the end of the day we are a people industry and we should always prioritise being in the present moment, focusing on face-to-face interaction with colleagues and customers.
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