Can Social Media Act as a Double-edged Sword?

September 20, 2010

How the positives of social media can generate negativity for the Australian Travel & Tourism Industry.

If the Australian travel and tourism industry wants to leave a global mark, it must embrace the use of social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to adopt and harness a strong digital strategy says Tourism Australia’s executive chairman, Rick Allert.

“As more of the world continues to embrace the Internet in new and diverse ways, this is an obvious medium we need to fully utilise to convey the depth and breadth of Australia’s travel and tourism experience,” Mr Allert claims.

While recognising the Australian travel and tourism industries need to jump on the social media bandwagon, Mr Allert advised that a reliance on social networking sites could prove consequential for travel and tourism operators, with negative word-of-mouth posing a threat for a country’s image.

Poor Mr Allert failed epically at practicing what he preached. In March of 2010, Tourism Australia launched a $150 million advertising campaign to replace their previous ill-fated ‘Where the bloody hell are you?’ campaign. Using the new slogan, ‘There’s nothing like Australia’, they invited Australians to submit their favourite photos and taglines of the country to capture that authentic, every-day Australian touch.

Within hours of launching the new site, the online campaign was hijacked by satire blog nothinglikeaustralia.net.

Tourism Australia made the terrible mistake of forgetting to register variations of their websites URL. While having claimed the .com address, this left a window of opportunity for virtually anybody to register nothinglikeaustralia.net. Mr Allert must still be kicking himself.

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On November 23rd 2007, low-cost carrier, Tiger Airways Australia commenced domestic flight services throughout Australia. On June 7th, 2008 Tiger took a walk on the wild side by embracing the use of social-networking giant, Twitter @tigerairways. While Twitter has proven to be a powerful  communication device for other Australian airline companies like @VirginBlue and @JetstarAirways, Tiger Airways lacked what these two companies were able to grasp hold of.

The second half of 2008 saw Tiger embrace Twitter a total of five times. 2009 brought on a slight  improvement with a whooping 29 tweets <insert sarcasm here>; one of them even promising follower’s innovation and excitement; kind of ironic, don’t you think? Perhaps this earth-shattering promise of excitement was the increase of their tweets, six-fold, on previous years results?

Sadly, in 2010, Tiger Airways’ Twitter account died a slow and painful death (of only five tweets) with a direct flight out to Twitter heaven.

A big mistake made by companies is the abandoning of accounts. Tiger Airways has ignored the benefits that Twitter can encompass for them and rather than shutting off its Twitter account completely, it has decided to portray a negative company image for its 2,954 followers via account abandonment.

Dear neglected @tigerairways Twitter followers, here’s an idea.

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Virgin Blue and V Australia have done an outstanding job appealing to customers via their Facebook pages with 20,000+ and 15,000+ ‘likes’ respectively. They’ve also gone that extra mile in mastering communicative channels via Twitter and corporate blogging. Despite these social networking measures, any given corporate message may be easily counteracted by dissatisfied customer blogs and blog posts, especially those that rank highly on Google.

A simple Google search of ‘Virgin Blue Blog’ reveals the top ranking result to be a blog post from a disgruntled Virgin Blue customer; it even ranks above the V Australia Blog itself. Although having been posted way back in March of 2006, this particular blog post still generates interest amongst other dissatisfied Virgin Blue customers, with comments still being posted to it as recent as September of 2010.

This example is not specific to Virgin Blue and V Australia but is just one of the many cases used to illustrate the permanency of the Internet and the power of social media.



Dear Melbourne…

October 7, 2009

I you, really, I do. You are one of the most beautiful cities this world has to offer (Bias? Who, Me? Never!). You will always be home… BUT… and Melbourne, promise you wont hate on me, buttttt…

… I want to move to the U.S.A. on an E3 visa after my J1 visa expires and I’m done with the Disney International College Program.

Anyone know of any U.S. companies that sponsor E3 visas? Better yet… anyone want to employ me when I’m done? *cough* Marketing Travel/Tourism position *cough*

Pretty please?

LOVE this country

HOME: Melbourne, Australia

HOME: Melbourne, Australia



British lad, Ben Southall wins ‘Best Job in the World’.

May 6, 2009

British boy, Ben Southall has today been named the winner of Tourism Queensland’s ‘Best Job in the World‘ promotion.

The 34 year old charity fundraiser beat out 15 other finalists picked from a pool of 34,000 applicants from across the globe. The 15 finalists were all flown out to Hamilton Island at the end of April to prove to the judges why exactly they were ideal candidates for the biggest and most successful marketing stint ever produced within Australia (or the world for that matter!).

It cost about $1 million but generated close to that of $150 million in global coverage for the Great Barrier Reef.

As caretaker, Ben will live on Hamilton Island for six months, earn a $150,000 AU wage while exploring the surroundings of the region and share his experience with the world through means of online tools such as blogging.

Amongst all the excitement of today’s announcement, no one seemed to notice that a slight slip saw the winner’s name being published on the Tourism Queensland website half an hour before the official announcement was mad. The finalists however, were unaware of this minor malfunction and their reaction to the announcement was genuine and honest.


Best Job In The World – Final Top 16

April 4, 2009

On Friday, April 3, 15 lucky finalists from across the globe received the call from Queensland Tourism Minister Peter Lawlor informing them to get-a-packin’ for their journey to Hamilton Island.

Amongst the 15 finalists are a teacher, students, a receptionist and an actress; all whom will make their way over to Hamilton Island for the final selection process in May for the ‘Best Job In The World‘.

These lucky buggers were selected from thousands of entries world-wide and were cut down to a short-list of 50, before being dissected down further to only 15, plus one wild card entry. Entrants went to great depths to make themselves stand out from the crowd; scuba diving in a tank in Amsterdam, dressing up as a mermaid in downtown Singapore and spruiking at a London pub just to name a few. I’m sure all short-listed candidates find their risky efforts well worth-while now.

Tourism Queensland has estimated the campaign has achieved about $100 million worth of global publicity for Queensland.

The Top 16 will fly to Hamilton Island on May 3 and the successful candidate will be announced on May 6.

Best Job in the World finalists:

Anjaan RJ – India

Ben Henry – France

Ben Southall – UK

Cali Lewis – USA

Clare Wang – Taiwan (wild card applicant)

Clarke Gayford – New Zealand

Erik Rolfsen – Canada

George Karellas – Ireland

Greg Reynen – Singapore

Hailey Turner – Australia

James Hill – Australia

Juweon Kim – Korea

Magali Heuberger – Netherlands

Mieko Kobayashi – Japan

Mirjam Novak – Germany

Yi Yao – China


Best Job in the World – Finalists announced!

March 8, 2009

The Queensland Tourism God’s have spoken, and on March 3, they delivered the news to fifty applicant hopefuls informing them that they were one step closer to snagging the Hamilton Island caretaker position dubbed the best job in the world.

The Hamilton Island dream job, promising a $150,000 AU six month wage, drew 34,684 applications from more than 200 countries right around the globe. Eager hopefuls went to great lengths to prove they were worthy of this once in a life time opportunity where they would live in luxury on the Great Barrier Reef’s Hamilton Island, spending there days exploring their surroundings and reporting back on their experiences through an online blog.

The top 50 candidates came from a host of professions ranging from a dance instructor, charity fundraiser, physiotherapist, DJ, chef and an actor. They represent 22 countries including the UK, Japan, Canada, US, Greece, Germany, Kenya, China, India, New Zealand, Guam and Australia. For those of you interested, the successful applicants can be viewed at www.islandreefjob.com.

This $1.7 million viral marketing campaign is said to have already generated a whopping $70 million worth of publicity for the state of Queensland. A very nice return, if I may say so myself.

The top 50 will be narrowed down to 10 by Tourism Queensland and an eleventh wild card entry will be voted for online by the public. These final 11 candidates will all be flown to Hamilton Island for the final selection before the winner starts work on July 1, 2009.


Southwest Airlines Fly High Above Their Competitors

February 4, 2009

It often startles me with how little airline companies are embracing online communication tools to reach their target audience. With the recent incline and interests sparked through online blogging and the current likes of Facebook and Twitter, these online marketing mechanisms could prove powerful to an organizations ongoing success if adopted and applied effectively.

Southwest Airlines are one of the few airline organizations that embrace all forms of online communication mediums, also introducing their own innovative online marketing tool referred to as ‘DING!

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES' DING! APPLICATIONDING! is a live desktop application that sits in the tray of your taskbar. Upon hearing a ‘ding‘ noise, exclusive airfares are delivered straight to you at heavily discounted prices. These discounts are not available any where other than through the application. You can customize DING! to deliver deals from ten airports of your choice.

With a mission to deliver the highest quality of service to its customers, Southwest implemented the use of Twitter to keep in contact with its followers. Twitter is a real-time short messaging service that works over multiple networks and devices.

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES TWITTER ACCOUNT

Southwest uses Twitter to respond to customer inquiries, announce any possible flight delays and  promote new services and routes. If a customer tweets from an airport while experiencing difficulty with the airline, they are quick to receive a response from Southwest offering advice or a solution to their problem

Through Twitter, the airline is regularly posting photos allowing followers to gain a sense of the corporate culture that exists back at Southwest Headquarters in Texas.

NUTS ABOUT SOUTHWEST ONLING BLOGWhile being known to serve nuts on board their flights, Southwest used a clever play on words when titling their online blog ‘Nuts About Southwest.’ Employees from all facets of the organization share their stories and work experiences giving avid readers some insight on what it is like to work for Southwest. A new blog is posted almost every day and the airline has also made use of video blogging. Polls are conducted and the latest Southwest news is shared.

One of the more common marketing tactics embraced by many organizations including Southwest Airlines is a fan page on Facebook. Facebook gives people and organizations the power to share, making the world more open and connected. Millions of people use Facebook everyday to keep up with friends, promote their company, upload unlimited photos and generate board discussions.

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES FACEBOOK FAN PAGECurrently, the Southwest fan page has 56,887 fans. Through this page, Southwest are able to communicate new offers and click-through promotions with their Facebook fans. There is a discussion board that generates an ample amount of conversation from fans. The Southwest marketing department who double as the page care-takers often respond to current discussions and the airlines employees are also encouraged to help contribute with any answers they can.

Fans are able to upload and share their Southwest photos to the Facebook page and the airline are able to post videos that may hold any value in promoting Southwest.

With Southwest embracing such innovative communication techniques at a time where people seem uncertain about traveling, it is no wonder that they recorded a December 2008 increase in revenue passenger miles, up 1.1 per cent from the 5.7billion RPMs flown in December of 2007.

In this unsteady economic climate, more airline organizations should be making use of these online communication tools to enhance their performance and try achieving the same results that Southwest has.