Air Canada Vacations, as it is known in English, or Vacances Air Canada is a Canadian tour operator. The name gives it away! They really offer some great travel packages that my family has purchased from them before when visiting me from Canada. You can get a return flight to Paris with hotel for 6 nights for just over $1000. Hotels in Paris don’t come cheap especially in the summer, so it’s not a bad deal. Travel aside, I am looking at this as a professional of tourism & hospitality, social media and marketing, so let’s see what we got.
Their customers being both French and English speaking as well as having multilingual workers, I checked out their French twitter account. Surprised, the last tweet was from December 21, 2011!
What they did was move @VacAirCanada tweets (French speaking) @AirCanadaVac (English speaking) Now they create a tweet in English and then create the same tweet in French. Most companies that tweet in two languages either have two accounts or tweet in both languages. It really depends on the amount of tweeting one does and in this case both work well, but for their bilingual followers, they might just wish to read in whatever language they want. Canadians are used to seeing both languages being printed everywhere.
I personally feel that for an industry like the travel industry, it is very important to be on twitter, to have that real-time relationship with past clients, current clients and potential clients. In the end you want to make them all current and returning clients. Otherwise all those travellers will simply book elsewhere.
Here are a few suggestions I have that apply to Air Canada Vacations and other agencies in the travel industry.
What they could improve
Put more pictures – For a tour operator I am stunned that they are neglecting it. Their last photo was on August 18 and not so motivating to take a vacation with that one. Pictures would get people stuck in offices wanting to book that vacation. I mean, a picture is worth a thousand words and I can’t emphasize enough how important pictures are in social media.
Tweet your blog posts – They have some great and very interesting blog posts, but they should be letting those followers now when they publish one. I would love to be informed of a blog post from them instead of going onto their website and trying to see if there is anything new. Sorry for being lazy, but that’s the positive thing about twitter, so use it!
Post more regularly - If you tweet your blog posts, then it wouldn’t look like you tweet only to promote and to help customers. Tweets from the 15th of May to the 5th of June just isn’t doing it. You are trying to get those customers that haven’t booked their July or August holidays yet. Maybe you will have those travellers that want to get a great September deal, you have to stay on your game.
Repetitive tweets – It looks like you are retweeting yourself. When you want to retweet the same thing, I would suggest switching it around a bit. So in the example of Air Canada Vacation “Don’t feel like doing your holiday shopping on Friday night? Buy some ACV gift certificates and you’ll be done” could be altered to “Out of ideas of what to buy for the holidays” or “Last minute shopping, why buy an ACV gift certificate. We never run out of stock”. Get creative, change them around so that when someone looks on your page it isn’t 3 repetitive calls to buy gift certificates.
Add humour – The “Get me out of here” option in the destination drop down box worked well. I mean, you are selling vacations, memories, fun times and a place away from daily stress. Add a bit of humour, you will thank me for this!
Research – Research who your buyers are, who they are following, what makes them want to go on vacation, interact with people, find out what they think and know what you are trying to sell them. People buy for different reasons at different times of the year, you have to know this. Is it family time, party time, sun and sand, luxury, relaxation, etc. This is where the research comes in and where market research comes in handy.
Tweet during the best times – It can be specific to your industry and it isn’t always the same every year so you have to stay updated on this to get maximum efficiency in your social media. Researching your followers and finding out when they are online is a great step, but generally the ideal hours to tweet are between 1pm and 3pm. For a country like Canada I would choose EST as the largest concentration of population is in that time zone. You can tweet at other times as well, but make sure you do it at least once during that time.
Cruise section- The last blog post on cruises was in October 2011 and there is still available space for June 29 and later. The cruise section has been let go and there isn’t much happening there. Your blog is essentially your little travel booklet that you offer to customers. You don’t have to necessarily promote on there, but you could be writing about a cruise that your company sells the tickets to. I mean, indirectly its a great tool for promotion.
What they do really well
They post posts from other people – Someone wrote a website review on Air Canada vacations and they retweeted. I think this is great! It shows that they are paying attention because they found her tweet. It shows that they appreciate the feedback. It shows that they don’t mind the negative comments and look forward to improving themselves. I really did like this a lot. Job well done!
I would suggest rewteeting more often:
- People writing about Air Canada Vacations
- Influential travellers – You can really get a greater following here and customers. If you retweet someone, they might appreciate it and retweet you. People who enjoy travelling will follow people blogging about travelling. It is simple as that.
They do have customer service help – I can’t say that it is complete customer service, but they do answer people who are in need. They monitor twitter and make sure at least to redirect their customers.
- Offer customer service help – From time to time retweet that you are here for them, you are listening to them, you are there to help. It gives people trust and confidence to know you are there.
- Create a hashtag for customer service – It will be easier to monitor and people will appreciate that when they type that, you will be there for them. Wifi is readily available almost everywhere and usually doesn’t cost anything. Calling on the other hand is trouble. I have tried calling toll free to Canada many times. It either doesn’t work, once I got charged and well sometimes it does work. The hashtag in my opinion is a great idea.
They offer twitter deals – So there is some advantage to following them on twitter.
- Offer more twitter deals - Why not? You can get a greater following. As long as you are giving deals to people who read En-route, Air Canada’s magazine, for example, why not offer that same deal to people on twitter
Large amount of followers – There is a group of followers, the main thing is to utilise this as efficiently as possible. You have an audience of over 7000 people. This is where you send your message..
Use these tips and you can get yourself more followers, more customers, create an even better brand that people will recognize, have satisfied customers and have a more personable feel.
Hopefully this blog post will help some travel agencies out there. Air Canada Vacations was a great example to use in many aspects of social media. If there is anyone with further questions on social media and the travel industry, please do not hesitate to contact me. Tourism and social media are two of my favourite topics!
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