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

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 Mr Allert must still be kicking himself.


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.


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.

Insane airfares… why now? Dang it!

December 19, 2008

This is insane…

“New airline V Australia starts price war with Qantas

INFANT airline V Australia will fire the first shots in a new ticket war with Qantas today by offering an ultra-low Melbourne-Los Angeles return fare of just $1199.

The bargain offer, which ends on December 29, undercuts by $810 the cheapest fare Qantas charged yesterday on the high-profit LA route.

The tickets are for economy class travel between March 1 and October 24 next year and include the cost of travel on the domestic leg between Melbourne and Sydney.

V Australia, an offshoot of domestic carrier Virgin Blue, had planned to launch this week but was forced to delay because of a long strike by airline workers in the US who were assembling its new Boeing 777 jets.

The maiden Sydney-LA flight will take off on February 27.

V Australia will begin with three direct flights a week, with a daily service from March 21 once its second 361-seat aircraft arrives from Boeing.

V Australia has ordered seven extended-range Boeing 777s, the same aircraft that Emirates uses on its Australia-Dubai route.

The V Australia planes will be configured into three classes.

Scott Swift, executive general manager of V Australia, said last night international business class would include flat beds and full bar service; premium economy would have wider seats with a self-service bar and food; and the economy section would have wider than normal leather seats and the latest in onboard entertainment.

A third aircraft, to be delivered in March, will operate three LA flights a week, starting on April 1 from Brisbane.

Mr Swift said V Australia would celebrate Australia Day by taking delivery on January 26 of its first aircraft.

Its silver-painted jetliners will feature a Southern Cross logo on a distinctive red tail.

News of the handover of the first plane and the February 27 launch date came as Qantas said it had taken delivery of its second A380 super jumbo, which will start on the Melbourne-Sydney-LA route from Monday.

The 470-seat aircraft – named after Hudson Fysh, the airline’s first managing director and joint founder – left the Airbus factory in the southwest French city of Toulouse on Monday and is due to land in Sydney early today.

A third aircraft, which is completing final trials, will leave the factory for Australia two days after Christmas and will begin Sydney-London flights on January 16.

Qantas executive general manager John Borghetti said the airline’s first A380, which has operated three services a week between Melbourne, Sydney and LA since October, was continuing to perform well and was drawing positive customer feedback.

“This second aircraft will allow us to increase A380 frequency across the Pacific, from three to as many as six return services each week,” Mr Borghetti said.”


Seriously, $1199 AU including taxes is just unheard of! I usually pay $2100 AU including tax for a bloody student fare! Ah, it is so unfair. If I had the finances I would totally book a flight right now and be out of here again in 2009. I cannot wait for the price war to begin. Qantas has always dominated that route and market with insanely high prices for a service that really is not all too impressive. My preferred airline of travel to the US is Air New Zealand. I often get great student deals through them at STA Travel and choose them regularly when flying to the USA from Melbourne. Their service is impeccable and the food on board is great too! My favorite part is their in-house entertainment system; one per person, even in economy class!

Interesting that they have just announced that Delta Air Lines, the world’s biggest airline carrier, has now confirmed its plans to launch flights from Los Angeles to Sydney beginning in July of 2009. This should further enhance the price wars and put added pressures on Qantas to reduce their fares. Having dominated this route for over a decade, Qantas are now facing double the competition. I’d imagine times to be very tough for Qantas right now.

Like Qantas, Delta will be commencing a daily Boeing 777-200 flight on the route commencing July 1, 2009. This will make Delta the first US airline to fly to six continents. Pretty impressive stuff. Hopefully Delta’s entry will spell an end to the insanely high profits and domination Qantas has enjoyed over the route for the past decade. If Qantas do not act smartly and refuse to drop their over-priced airfares, they will unfortunately be the ones facing the consequences.

I hope I can find an internship/work out in the US soon. I would love to take advantage of these introductory sale prices. It would save me an arm and a leg!