Social media can have some serious downsides.
We’ve all heard the sucking sound that, if you’re not careful, represents time “spent” (read: wasted) on non-value-added social media “work” (read: playing around).
We all are or should be familiar with the client-centered benefits of social media.
Social media is yet another way we can connect with, and offer assistance and value to others.
But, can social media do more?
Yes, and I have a great example.
Many travel professionals as well as a ton of other creators, makers, and knowledge workers toil away in solitude at home.
This pays amazing benefits – freedom, flexibility, and time, among others.
But, it also has some stark downsides – loneliness and the inability to benefit from co-workers’ knowledge and experience being the two with serious potential consequences.
Social media can mitigate the downsides.
I say mitigate because it can’t entirely fix the problem, but it sure can help.
Social media as a tonic for loneliness is pretty obvious, but it can also provide a great outlet for the exchange of practical/tactical advice – the kind you might get from co-workers in an office environment.
Case in point:
A few months ago at Southern Girl Travel, we had a potential client: a busy family in need of some relaxation. They had only experienced limited travel, and were looking to expand their horizons. They had chosen a specific cruise that some friends were booked on in a few months – time was short and staterooms were few, and their friends were talking up another agency.
A single stateroom within their budget came open one morning at 6:00am, and we were trying to get it booked.
As the frustrating world of online booking goes, we couldn’t get the trip reserved because, and we’re blaming it on a lack of caffeine, we couldn’t figure out the format for the date to enter the clients’ birthdays.
Jennifer was in full out panic mode.
She immediately typed a question in on the Travel Agent Best Practices Facebook group.
Within – and I kid you not – less than a minute, she had multiple responses…try DD-MON-YEAR…which was exactly right.
The clients just came back from the cruise this week. They are now happy customers, talking about what to do next!
If it wasn’t for social media we may have lost that sale.
Now that’s a specific example, but it highlights what I like to call the water-cooler effect of social media.
Social media gives home-based travel pros a community of knowledgable colleagues to bounce things around with.
These are colleagues who care.
If you engage these social media outlets in a proper fashion, you will see results. You’ll also want to give back just as much as you get!
It truly is fun helping others!
For all you hosted travel agents out there…remember how excited you were about your host’s training programs when you first signed up?
Remember how disappointed you were when you realized it wasn’t all you thought it would be (now don’t get me wrong, training is expensive and it’s not really the host’s responsibility, no matter what anyone says)?
You can find at least a portion of what you need from others utilizing social media.
When it comes to training, don’t be afraid to pay for what you need, it can be a great investment, but make sure that you are spending your dollars wisely.
Yes, you need destination information, but that can be had easily and cheaply.
What you really need is information – no, make that knowledge and wisdom – on how to be a successful entrepreneur.
In addition to groups like Facebook’s Travel Agent Best Practices, or the Disney Professionals’ Group, Travel Agent Chatter on Google+, GIFTE, check out folks like Tim Ferris, Jonathan Fields, Natalie Lussier, or Natalie Sisson.
They give away tons of great knowledge, take advantage…and give back, too!
Get the most out of social media!