I had a particularly good experience recently as my girlfriend and I were starting to plan an upcoming trip to Los Angeles. She opted for the more conventional method of running a few searches on Google, hotels.com, and tripadvisor.com. As expected she got the standard results – a few promotions, some highly rated hotels, and a good selection of price ranges. Not bad, but nothing you could really trust and act upon without asking around a bit more.
On the other hand, I opted to throw out this tweet to see what would come back. Within an hour, I received 8 different recommendations coming from a mix of friends and 3rd party services. By the end of the night, I had 15 different recommendations to choose from all with personal validations or niche customer reviews to back them.
I was particularly impressed with one travel service, Resideo, who reached out to me with the following series of tweets (in order of conversation): quick consultation, staff recommendations, single recommendation, and the soft-sell. All signs of a well-formulated customer service strategy in social media that picks up on the exact moment of consumer demand.
While it helped that my chosen destination was in a Twitter-crazy market, what I learned was that social media can be (and will be) a very serious player in the travel planning process. The level of service I received was spectacular compared to the robotic process of searching on travel aggregators and search engines. The human-touch of customer service has returned to digital, when we once thought it had completely abandoned the internet.
I love the concept that we no longer have to search for products and services, because they will find us. With the communication tools we have today, we’re not too far off from making that concept a reality.