When we left for our trip in June2009 Twitter had been around for a little while but it hadn’t really taken off…or at least I didn’t realize the value of it at the time. Since returning I’ve learned much more about how Twitter works and how it can be used as a traveler. I’m no expert by any means but I do think that knowing how Twitter worked would have changed how we traveled. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll share what I’ve learned so that you can put it to use in your own travels!!
Without a doubt the absolute best way to find a place to stay, or a great meal, or the fastest travel route is to ask other travelers where they stayed, or ate, or how they got to a place.
Guidebooks can help but we all know that they are over relied upon, not updated often enough, and send all of us to the same places. What you want is up-to-the-minute information on what a hostel/hotel is like, what restaurant or food cart has the best food, where to get the cheapest beer, and where is that secret trail to the best viewpoint.
When we met travelers going in the opposite direction to us, we would pump them for all this information and often I would email those that I knew had been in an area we were headed to. Everyone was always more than willing to help; providing names and phone numbers, best buses and routes, and revealing their secret finds.
Twitter magnifies this whole idea. Instead of the few people I contacted by email I would now be able to tweet out questions about an area to my 1000+ followers and likely have them retweet a request to their own 100, or 200, or 587, or 17,649 followers resulting in a greater depth of information than ever before.
And this information network goes beyond just your followers and your followers’ followers. Many well-known travel companies use Twitter as a means to connect with new travelers and return customers on a more personal level. Companies like Orbitz (@Orbitz) use Twitter as a way to spread the word about contests and low-fare alerts, while others like Jet Blue (@JetBlue) use it to reach out to people who are tweeting while in flight or at the airport. Even smaller niche companies are using Twitter to connect with people and build brand awareness by offering discounted resort rentals and assistance to owners.
Remember that Twitter is all about people. People who have been where you’re going and who might be able to help get you there. Who want to share what they know with you. Tweet out a question using the country or city hashtag and ask that it be retweeted.There, you’re reaching real people and potentially real companies who will often provide you with a great deal.
And you can return the favor. When you’re traveling you can watch for questions that relate to where you have been and share what you have learned. If someone is looking for an airline discount or a place to stay, recommend a company or hotel that has serve you well in the past. Even at home you can help; there are people who come to visit places that you know about at home. Follow the hashtag for your city and see if you can’t help out visitors to your area.
You can catch up from the beginning of the Twitter Travel Tips series with these posts: