I thought long and hard about what kind of organisation I should write about for this assignment – I was contemplating doing Cadbury chocolate (my top choice for breakfast,lunch or dinner) or maybe McDonald’s (my go-to at 3am on Sunday morning after town). But then I thought, why don’t I research a travel business – I can plan a beautiful vacation and do my assignment all at once!
Flight Centre has been around since the 70’s, and is now the biggest travel agency in Australasia. For many years it has helped thousands of kiwis and Australians plan holidays to all over the world. My research over the past 9 weeks shows that Social Media is constantly changing, so it’s very important for a business today to ensure the company stays relevant. So my question is, has Flight Centre managed to keep up with the ever-changing internet?
Social Media Presence
Flight Centre has a large presence on social media. Along with a Travel Blog on the Flight Centre Website, the company uses various social media sites:
- Facebook – where it has over 90,000 likes
- Twitter – nearly 3000 followers
- Instagram – boasting nearly 8000 followers
On all of these sites, Flight Centre is active- posting on some every few days and weekly or biweekly on others. On Twitter especially, Flight Centre is incredibly active and replies to queries/complaints on the same or the next day – giving an email address for dissatisfied customers to message. In the tweet and reply below, you can see that Flight Centre both answers quickly (on the very same day) and points the consumer in the right direction to getting help.
Mobile Social Media
Flight Centre has put a lot of effort into making mobile social media for travellers easier to use. The website, when accessed from a mobile phone, has been improved to make the experience of searching for and booking flights not only possible, but a lot simpler. In fact, Flight Centre has even created an app called ‘Travel Ideas by Flight Centre‘ to help consumers decide where to go and what to do on their holiday.
Using Third Parties
Unfortunately, Flight Centre does not have a Social Media Policy that is available to the public to show the rules around employees using social media – but it does use a third party to help teach and control the Social Media aspect of the agency. Hootsuite is a company that helps all kinds of businesses to manage social media use – from giving the company analytical reports showing how well social media strategies are working, and allowing businesses to access monitoring tools to see what is being said about the organisation.
Gregg Tilston, who works for Hootsuite as the Global Social Media Leader of Flight Centre, talks about how Flight Centre (with the help of HootSuite) uses Social Media in the video below, focusing on strategies that can be seen in Cook’s ‘Four C’s’ and Cisco’s ‘S.O.C.I.A.L.’ approach to social media.
Flight Centre and The Four C’s
As we learned in an article by Niall Cook, the Four C’s – collaboration, cooperation, communication and connection – are different software styles that a company can possess.
Tilston states above that a main focus of Flight Centre has been communication. Flight Centre connects and communicates with customers by using tag searches on sites such as Twitter. Employees search up not only the tags #flightcentre or @flightcentrenz, but also the words ‘Flight Centre’ in case consumers that don’t use tags want to get in contact with the agency, where employees can point them in the right direction.
The goal for Flight Centre now is to focus more on collaboration – teaching all employees to use social media, and not just the social media experts. In another presentation, Tilston says that all different business units are working on connecting with each other, so that any comments on social media can easily be transferred to the business unit that can help with that comment, instead of the information stopping with the social media representative.
Cisco’s S.O.C.I.A.L. Approach
Cisco’s S.O.C.I.A.L. approach is about how companies should aim to be scalable, open, consistent, intuitive, active and limitless, which can be achieved by enablement, intelligence, engagement, measurement and advocacy. Flight Centre uses this approach to increase customer satisfaction, which is their ultimate goal, as increased satisfaction leads to consumers becoming advocates of the agency.
Flight Centre has become scalable – the firms global team has had training in social media to help employees to become more helpful. Strategies were taught to employees to teach them how to increase customer satisfaction by making any process an all-round positive experience for customers.
As seen in the Twitter conversation above, Flight Centre remains active on Social Media on many different platforms by posting regularly, sometimes daily.The company is also working on improving their intelligence and being more intuitive by using deeper listening to help customers further when they post on social media about Flight Centre, becoming proactive instead of being just reactive.
Flight Centre allows engagement as many people that show interest in the business have questions or challenges, and the business has many different platforms that allow customers to receive the help that they need. Whereas Flight Centre used to send out automated messages once a question was received, they now have employees that will answer questions and point consumers in the right direction – increasing the level of engagement between the agency and potential customers, and therefore increasing the satisfaction of customers. In one case, where a woman tweeted Flight Centre asking if the pilot in a photo was drunk due to his askew hat, she received a joking reply from Flight Centre – with a photoshopped version of her avatar wearing an askew captain hat attached.
Flight Centre now also uses social data to segment databases. Knowing consumers’ age, gender, location and other demographic information about them means that Flight Centre can personalise marketing to show deals or flights to customers that they may be interested in. In an article in CMO, Darren Wright, the general manager of product, advertising and customer experience, said that data helped the company to realise that they were pushing products that were the opposite of what people were actually buying. But now, after using social data, they can create better and more tailored products to suit travellers’ needs.
Overall, Flight Centre uses social media well and often. Though the company could improve by having set regulations around use of social media, it has come a long way and is keeping up with technological changes.
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