Marketing To Millenials on Social Media

The baby boomers have ruled the roost for decades. Armed with tidy pensions, financial security, and sheer power in numbers, this generation’s custom has been coveted by businesses in every sector–including the hospitality industry.

Generation X, with its job instability and paltry numbers barely registered on anyone’s radar–and surely posed no threat to the reign of the boomers. But that is all about to change. There is a new generation taking over.

With over 80 million members in the United States alone, the Millennials–a.k.a Generation Y–are the most rapidly growing consumer segment. And marketers are taking notice.

So how does one go about marketing to a millennial?

First you must understand a bit about this generation’s characteristics.

Meet the Millennials
While each individual member of every generation possesses unique qualities, there are a few traits that are said to characterize the Millennials as a whole.

  • Highly social, both online and off.
  • Tech-savvy and require real-time information.
  • Fearful of missing out.
  • Conscious of social and civic responsibility.
  • Attracted to highly interactive sites.

As a marketer, it is important to select the best platform to reach this influential consumer group. Since the Millennial is plugged in more than any other generation, the best way to attract their attention is to meet them where they’re at–social media.

Here are a few examples of clever companies capitalizing on social media to attract this promising group of travelers.

TRYP Hotel
This Times Square Hotel has developed a social network lounge, cleverly named “Lobby Friend” to appeal to the Millennial’s desire for up-to-date information and social interaction.

Guests are afforded the opportunity to join Lobby Friend and access it over the course of their stay. This membership gives the guest online access to the concierge, staff members, and other guests who have also joined.

Members are kept abreast of events and special deals, provided with help finding NYC attractions, and made aware of get-togethers organized by other guests. And, if a member finds themselves lost in the Big Apple, help is just a message away.

If you’re considering creating your own version of “Lobby Friend,” check out Turning Your Website Into a Hospitality Hub.

Aurora Expeditions
Known for adventurous expeditions to far-flung destinations like Antarctica, Papua New Guinea, or the Kimberley Coast, Aurora Expeditions has found the way to let their tech-savvy millennials share their experiences with loved ones back home.

Using TrekTraka, a social network marketing system, clients are able to share their trek with followers via their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts.

Followers can then monitor their friend’s progress and view other engaging information generated by Aurora about this adventure–information that potential can lead to new bookings later.

Azul Airlines
The Millennial generation prefers to deal with companies that possess a strong sense of social responsibility. Brazil’s Azul Airlines “Pink” campaign earned the company a reputation for exactly that.

Unlike the many other airlines that jumped on the “pink planes for breast cancer” initiative, Azul took it a step further and invited the public to name its pink plane–a move that garnered a massive social media following.
The crew was outfitted in hot pink uniforms and the hashtag #OtubroRosaNaAzul was introduced, which translates to “Pink October with Azul.”

Air Asia
Air Asia, a company renowned for mastering the art of social media marketing, appealed to the millennial’s interactive nature through the “Where’s Johno?” campaign.

Using Google Streetview, visitors were invited to partake in five different online games–each based on an actual attraction found on Australia’s Gold Coast.

To make the games even more appealing, players were asked to locate “Johno” at each location, collect five different stamps from him, and enter for a chance to win a free trip to this Queensland destination.

While each generation has much in common with the preceding one, there are also distinct differences. The Millennials are the first group to grow up with Google at their fingertips, a collection of Facebook friends, and a cell phone glued to their hands. And the best way to win their business is through a clever social media campaign.

How do you market to millennials? What traits have you noticed are unique to this generation?

This post was contributed by Kimberley Laws. She is a freelance writer, Mediashower blogger, and proud member of Generation X. You can follow her neurotic and OCD ramblings at The Embiggens Project and Searching for Barry Weiss.

Image courtesy of

Airlines Have Highest Levels Of Social Engagement

The world becomes a tad bit smaller with every passing year. Yes, thanks to international trade, the internet, and greater human mobility, the miles between Kathmandu and Montevideo have never seemed shorter. Airlines have always been at the forefront of making the globe much easier to circumnavigate physically. And they are now doing their part to bring together people from across the world online as well.

Yes, airlines are engaging more people through social media than any other sector within the travel industry. eDigitalResearch’s “Travel Social Media Benchmark” measures how well brands within the travel industry perform on Facebook, Google+, and other popular social media venues. The results are in and they show that airlines are making better use of these tools than any of the other players in the travel realm, including hotels.

How, exactly, are the world’s largest airlines capitalizing on social media’s popularity? Well, here are a few prime examples of top-notch social media campaigns generated by airline companies.

Name the plane. Paint the plane.

When Air Asia purchased a fleet of A330 planes, they invited the public to join them in the celebration by running two consecutive contests on their blog, Facebook pages, and Twitter feed. The first contest invited fans to name a plane. After the winning moniker was announced, the public was provided with the chance to design a paint job for the newly named craft to sport. The winner was awarded a trip to Toulouse, France to tour the Airbus factory.

Social Media meets GPS.

Australia’s Qantas has recently introduced technology that allows them to track social media conversations that take place within any of their ten Qantas airport lounges. This enables them to identify where feedback originates from, providing them with a better idea of which areas are working well and which are not. For example, a customer who tweeted his disappointment over not being able to order his favorite cereal brand was pleasantly surprised to discover that it had been added to the menu upon his next visit.

It’s gone to the dogs.

Virgin America launched its Operation Chihuahua and the hashtag, #VXBark, with great success. The airline transfers Chihuahuas from places that have too many to other locations to expedite their adoptions every year. Each dog is featured in a Facebook bio and trip updates are shared continuously on social media feeds. Plus, for every flight booked during the Operation Chihuahua, Virgin American pledges a donation.

Not just a “fair weather” friend.

One major criticism that has been aimed at the airlines’ social media presence is that many of them fall silent on the weekend–a time when air travel is bustling. American Airlines, however, have proven to be socially present 24/7. During a recent bout of Arctic-like weather in the United States and Canada, several airlines and their passengers found themselves grounded. And everyone was tweeting about it. On a particularly frosty Sunday, American Airlines generated the most tweets by far and earned themselves the title as the fastest responders with an average response time of twelve minutes.

Get social onboard.

KLM has always led the pack when it comes to social media marketing. Yes, the airline that brought you the world’s “highest in the sky” dance party has recently introduced its latest social media venture–Meet & Seat. Passengers can share details from their LinkedIn or Facebook profiles with one another and choose seats based on shared interests.

These marketing-savvy airlines have managed to market their brand, win new customers, and fill their seats simply by tapping into the potential of social media. If your company has been dodging Facebook, evading Twitter, or pooh-poohing Pinterest, you may want to rethink your strategy. If you want the public to embrace your brand, you need to first embrace the public. And the public’s on social media.

What airline’s social media campaign stands out in your mind the most? Why?

This article was contributed by Kimberley Laws, a freelance writer and avid blogger. She has composed a countless array of articles on social media marketing, blogging, travel destinations, VoIP, and hosted pbx. You can follow her neurotic and OCD ramblings at The Embiggens Project and Searching for Barry Weiss.

How Airlines Are Combining Social Media With GPS

Picture if you will, sitting in a lounge at the airport after a less than satisfactory flight. Apparently, you were overcharged for a rum and Coke and didn’t realize it until you were disembarking.

As you wait for the shuttle to take you to your hotel destination, you log onto Facebook, grouse a little about the incident in your status, then proceed to forget about it.

This is your captain speaking. Our estimated flight time is two hours. Also, we stocked more of those pistachios you like, Karen Smith!

On the return trip, a flight attendant hands you a rum and Coke, and tells you it’s on the airline’s dime.

But you didn’t complain to the airline itself; you simply vented on social media then let it drop. What’s going on here?

What’s going on is a new level of hospitality that may make scenarios such as the one mentioned above a commonplace occurrence.

Social Media Strikes Again
Qantas and KLM airlines have instituted technology and personnel that allows them to easily monitor digital conversations posted on social media.

Rather than doing a search by keyword, the airline’s customer care teams monitor via GPS co-ordinates.

By pinpointing feedback to a specific location, the staff can institute measures to correct the complaint.

KLM actually has a staff of 130 people dedicated to monitoring social media platforms. If there’s a complaint posted on, say, Twitter or Instagram, the airline has introduced an estimated response time to a complaint, and currently, that time comes out to about one hour.

So, it would seem, that some airlines may be ready to step in and resolve an issue, even if you don’t report a problem!

The Future Of Airline Customer Service?
Thus far, only Qantas and KLM are employing these customer service practices, but according to Local Measure, an Australian social media start-up that works with Qantas, other airlines are planning on bringing that technology to their own passenger lounges.

This should come as no surprise, really, since many corporations these days are turning to social media in order to get a competitive edge. It’s inevitable that airlines would go down that road as well.

A Better Flight Experience
These days, it seems that flying comes with more annoyances than it did twenty years ago. Prices have gone up, new security measures and restrictions have been instituted, and if you want to check in even one piece of luggage on most airlines, you better get ready to pay for it. It’s nice to see that some airlines are taking a good look at social media and deciding to use it for improving the customer’s experience.

Now, this new way of doing things does come with a downside. For those people who are paranoid about being monitored, this experience could be rather unsettling.

Although there is definitely an amusing side-effect: consider, if you will, how many people really let it all hang out when posting opinions or gripes on social media sites. Now imagine someone really swearing up a blue streak on their Facebook status, only to be approached in person a half hour later by a member of the airline staff, smiling sweetly and offering to fix the problem, with a “Hello, we read your post and want to help!”

This article was contributed by John Terra. John has been a freelance writer since 1985. He writes about everything from SEO tips to reputation safeguarding sites. The whole paying to check in luggage thing really annoys him.

Photo Credit: Drewski2112

The Influence of Baby Boomers on Travel and Hospitality

As the baby boomer generation begins to retire and pursue travel or other luxuries, their impact on the travel industry should provide a steady stream of income for the next few decades.

As millions of Americans born between 1945 and 1960 retire — more than one in every four Americans — they will become the largest purchasing demographic for hotels, lodging, restaurants, transportation, and entertainment.

For the 2012 year, four out of every five leisure travelers were those between the ages of 50 and 70.  How are they affecting the hospitality industry?

Cruise Ship Destinations

Two decades ago, you could only go on a cruise ship to the Caribbean or to the Mediterranean.  Today, the options for a cruise ship are immense — any continent in the world offers some type of cruise for its customers, as a forty-billion dollar industry looks to capitalize on the boomer generation.

Retirees have proven more interested in going on cruises than any other age demographic because the pace is slow, there are no set events, and it allows a person to see new sights without having to plan for hotels and transportation.

Today, you can go on cruises to everything from Alaska to Antarctica, on one of three hundred different cruise ships, including ships that hold over six thousand people. Although social media has allowed cruise lines to appeal to the younger market, the appeal of baby boomers is still prominent.

Budget Airlines

Air travel is as popular as it has ever been in the United States, but the trend in the recent past has been to trend down in size and scale instead of up.  This change matches what many boomers claim is an exercise in affordability: more claim that they would rather save money on travel in order to have more to spend at their destination.

Airlines like Southwest and Spirit have accommodated these desires by offering zero-frills air travel.  Southwest has no designated seating, instead giving passengers a free-for-all check-in process, while Spirit has rock-bottom prices and charges for carry-on bags.

Southwest in particular has succeeded with the simplistic formula, having launched flights around the country by running flights through Chicago’s Midway airport, which had previously been little-used by other airlines.

As-Seen-In Travel

For many Americans, the only vision of other parts of the world come in television or film.  As more and more retirees begin to travel abroad without knowing more than they have seen in the media, travel companies have begun to capitalize upon the Hollywoodization of their destination.

Visitors to Paris, for instance, can take the “Da Vinci Code Tour” based on the events of the book and film; those who land in Moscow can take tours based on spy movies.

By appealing to what these visitors do know, even if it is far from accurate, foreign travel companies gather a large audience eager to learn more about representations of another country.

Risk And Reward

Few companies know their customers better than travel agencies.  Those that have polled baby boomers report that only about half report any interest in taking risks during their travel.

This division of customer interest poses a question for a travel business: how do you market a vacation as high-risk and low-risk simultaneously to get the most customers?  The answer, it seems, is in providing a guide who can mitigate the risk or letting an individual try it out themselves.

Travel agencies market specialist travel, where a group or a couple can visit a foreign country on a special program entirely under the guide of a native, or, by contrast, on their own.  The presence of a native guide makes risk-averse boomers more amenable to travel; the option to take it away appeals to those who would rather forge their own path.

This post was contributed by Andrew Deen. Andrew is a writer who creates informative articles related to business. Here, he described the effects of aging on the hospitality industry to encourage continued study in gerontology at the University of Southern California.

Use Your Klout for Access to the Admirals Club

Klout and American Airlines (AA) have announced a partnership that allows social media influencers access to AA’s exclusive Admiral’s Club.

A Klout score over 55 will allow you to gain access to 37 of the airline’s lounges in 22 different cities, and you don’t have to fly American to be eligible, as would normally be the case. Guests reap a variety of benefits, ranging from complimentary wine to shower suites at select locations.

If you fall a little short of 55, don’t worry! You are entered into a drawing for the potential to win prizes including all expenses-paid trips to Seattle, along with products from other brands that have partnered with Klout such as Sony, Chevrolet, and Microsoft.

Klout utilizes social media analytics to measure your online social influence. Upon analyzing 400 variables throughout your multiple social networks, it determines a score between one and 100, with 100 representing the most influential.

It’s become more apparent that the hospitality industry has a lot to gain from social media influencers. Getting the right people into their exclusive lounges means more traffic to their websites via Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, along with increased brand exposure.

Other airlines in need of significant image boosts would greatly benefit from partnering with Klout to gain insight on what kinds of amenities an individual takes into consideration before booking their next flight. Other mobile apps that ease flyers and create a more positive association with their airliner have already seen some headway.

With the decline of amenities in most airlines due to economic restraints, companies must resort to other avenues of representation or else suffer complacency. What better way to strengthen bonds between brands and their influencers than to put them in the cockpit of their initiatives?

What kinds of airline perks would you like to see offered next?

How Airlines Use Twitter [Infographic]

More and more businesses are recognizing the value of Twitter for customer service. Businesses are able to publicly address issues, and remedy customer complaints out-in-the open.

Travel is often innately stressful, and adding flying to the mix has the potential to make it more so.

With that in mind, many airlines are now on Twitter and have pretty substantial followings. Travel 2.0 put together an infographic that provides great insight regarding how airlines are using the service.

Does any of the information surprise you?

Airlines on Twitter

Airline Offers Seatmate Selection via Social Media

Royal Dutch airline KLM is allowing people to choose who they might sit next to on a flight by viewing other travelers’ social media profiles via a program called “Meet and Seat.”

The opt-in system will allow interested parties to link their Facebook and LinkedIn profiles to their checkin information. The profiles are then displayed for other travelers on the same flight who have also opted in and submitted their information, and seat selections can be made accordingly.

There seems to be a few possible pros and cons:


  • opt-in — this allows those whom wish not to participate to not be affected in any way
  • those who do wish to participate, can, opening the doors to potential business connections
  • it’s great for those who may be traveling alone and simply would like someone to socialize with
  • sometimes things relay differently online than in person, and if the people matched aren’t actually that compatible, it could prove for an awkward flight experience
  • potential breaches in privacy — information inadvertently being exposed in ways unintended
  • what happens when person A wants to sit with person B, who wants to sit with person C? or what if a woman only wants to sit with other women, etc.
What do you think of the new system? Would you pick your seatmate if given the option?

Lose Your Luggage? Not Anymore.

If you travel frequently, odds are you’ve had to endure a wait for your bags, or been paranoid about the possibility of them ending up in a city other than the one you’re in.

With that in mind, Delta Airlines has implemented a system for travelers to track their checked baggage. Via the airline carrier’s iPhone app, guests are able to monitor the whereabouts of their luggage at all times.

It’s very easy: once you’ve checked in your bags, simply take a photo of your baggage tag. This allows you, throughout the course of travel, to check in to see where your luggage is in real-time. You can also check whether your bags have been delivered and where exactly you can pick them up when you land.

This app definitely adds an element of comfort to travelers being able to consistently know exactly where their belongings are. The fact that it’s easy to access, via each’s own personal cellphone, makes it easy to manage, without having to worry about waiting in lines at a counter, etc.

delta airlines
Would this motivate you to fly Delta as opposed to another airline?

All Nippon Airways Introduces New Route in Style

All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan’s leading airline carrier, recently announced that its “Inspiration of Japan” service brand will be introduced to the Los Angeles-Narita (Tokyo) route beginning January 2012. It will also be launching from San Francisco, CA in December.

Under the “Inspiration of Japan” umbrella, ANA is gradually renewing its international products and services with the motto, “Innovative, original and inspired by modern Japan.” They embrace the challenge of constantly innovating and keeping pace with the changing tastes and preferences of valued customers, as well as consistently exceeding their expectations.

To celebrate and spread the word, ANA hosted a showcasing event last week at the JW Marriott in Los Angeles that featured First, Business and Economy class mock-up seats displayed along with several presentations. The night also included hosted food and beverages plus numerous members of the ANA staff on-hand to personally talk with guests, share information and answer questions.

Invitees included travel agents, members of the media, and a number of social influences connected to the brand’s Los Angeles-based brand ambassadors. Using the hashtag #ANALAX (reflecting the airline’s new service to LAX), attendees were encouraged to tweet about the event and share information, photos and more. They did just that, and it resulted in 5.4 million brand impressions!

Not only are events like these creative, but they’re also excellent marketing for several reasons:

  • They really evoke a human element to the brand — inviting people to experience it first-hand leaves a much more intimate impression than if they were to simply read about it.
  • While there’s some outward costs for sponsored food and drink, etc., you’re in turn getting 5.4 million personal impressions. It’s no doubt cheaper than traditional advertising for that substantial a reach.
  • When the goal of the brand is “embrace constantly innovating,” shaking up marketing strategies and the way you engage with consumers is a definite plus!

I was fortunate to be able to attend the event and thought it was fantastic. I respect that ANA trusted their brand ambassadors to invite “real” people (and possible consumers) to “sample” their product, and definitely have a personal association with the brand that I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to attain.

Getting to personally sit in the first-class seats was really awesome. There is a ton of space, and the seats are staggered so that everyone has an aisle seat. They also shift all the way back while the area just in front where your feet can rest (even while sitting up-right) moves forward, stimulating a literal bed to sleep on for the long flight. There is also a thorough, gourmet food and beverage menu available; widescreen LCD touch panels not only for entertainment, but for people to hook in their own iPods or portable devices to enjoy their own videos, photos or music; office space via newly-installed sliding tables and more.

Looking forward to flying ANA!

Establishing Social Media Guidelines

It’s essential for any company using social media, especially larger entities, to set forth guidelines so that it’s clear what is acceptable in the space.

A brand that always been ahead of social curve is Southwest Airlines. The airline emphasized its social savviness by attending BlogWorld, a large new media event, and taking part in the expo, where they provided a Southwest lounge area along with complimentary nuts, inflatable airplanes and more.

One thing I thought was really awesome is that they provided handouts featuring the social media guidelines they set forth for their employees. While they may be specific to Southwest, the rules can easily be applied to any brand and provide a great outline for those beginning to brainstorm putting together something similar for their own company.

Social Media Guidelines

  1. Follow Southwest Standards (the golden rule)

    Employees are responsible for the comments they make on the internet. Do not post materials that may reflect negatively on Southwest or its leaders, employees or customers. Any conduct that would be in violation of company rules may be grounds for discipline or dismissal.

  2. Employee Identification

    If employees talk online about the company or its services, it should be made clear they are a Southwest employee. Employees are to identify that they are not speaking on behalf of Southwest Airlines. Profiles should include a disclaimer similar to “the postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of Southwest Airlines’ officers, directors, of employees.” Remember that only officially-designated employees are authorized to speak on behalf of the company.

  3. Be an Ambassador

    Employees should strive to represent Southwest Airlines in the best way at all times. Though employees may not be speaking on behalf of the company, they are still representatives of Southwest.

  4. Shhhh – It’s a Secret

    Keep confidential information confidential. If secret information winds up in the wrong hands, Southwest’s culture, reputation and livelihood are at risk. Company-related internet communication should only discuss publicly-known information. If employees aren’t sure whether information is public, don’t make it public.

  5. Respect the Privacy of Others

    The lines between public and private are not as defined in the internet space. Be careful when posting content that involves details of coworkers’ personal lives. Assume that everything employees post will be online and stay there forever, for anyone to see.

  6. Company Trademarks and Logos

    Southwest’s logos, trademarks and copyrighted materials may not be used in any manner without the express written perion of the Southwest Airlines licensing department in marketing.

  7. Follow the Rules

    Do not engage in illegal or unlawful activities. Even posting comments, pictures, videos or other information about participation in illegal activities is against the rules. Do not post or share copywrighted materials unless a license has been granted to use those materials.

  8. Be Accountable

    Please report inappropriate online behavior by Southwest employees.

Which guideline do you think is most important?

Elevate Your Seat with AMEX and Virgin

Virgin America has teamed up with American Express for a new Facebook promotion. Through October 20, fans are invited to “elevate your seat” for a chance to win first-class seats and daily prizes. The two brands are celebrating the ability for consumers to now be able to transfer points from American Express’ Membership Rewards® program to Virgin America’s Elevate program.

Here’s how it works:

American Express Virgin America Elevate Your Seat

This is great in that it  incorporates many strategies regarding how to run a successful marketing campaign on Facebook:

  1. It’s easy to do. All you need is a chair!
  2. It’s something literally anyone can do; there’s no barrier to entry, attracting the widest possible array of entrants.
  3. It ties into the brand — the grand-prize winner will literally get an upgraded seat.
  4. It has “buzz worthy” uniqueness. It’s not often you can win something for simply sitting in a chair. Plus, it’s fun and silly enough that people will want to tell their friends about it, if not only for entertainment value. Furthermore, you’ll want to send your friends over to the page to vote for you once you’ve submitted your entry, thereby increasing Virgin and American Express’ fanbases, and subsequent audience for future offers.
  5. It stimulates creativity. Since chair-sitting is such a simple task, you’re forced to get creative in order to stand out, which further adds to the entertainment value.
  6. Daily drawings mean there are lots of opportunities to win something. If there was only one final winner, you may be deterred from taking the time to enter as the odds of actually getting something are slim. But when prizes are up for grabs each day, there’s much more incentive to take the time to put something together.
What other creative Facebook contests have you seen lately?