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!!
This is what it’s all about. The social aspects are fabulous; the connections you can make are useful and interesting; the support available is surprising; but the most useful part of Twitter is the information you can get and, when you’re traveling, it seems you can never get enough information!
Want to know where the best ceviche is in Lima, Peru? How about which hostel is the best for parties in Berlin? Need to know how often the buses run between Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey?
All this information is just a tweet away! You could tweet out a specific question to your followers, and ask them to retweet it, or use a #hashtag to reach a broader audience of folks who might just be in the area you’re asking about.
I did this by email while I was traveling but was limited to only being able to contact people that I knew had been to a place. With Twitter you have the ability to connect with anyonewho sees your tweet. This magnifies the power and almost guarantees that you will get an answer to your question.
Beyond information about a specific destination, we also had need for general travel information.
Did we need to get a visa before we hit the Turkish border or could we get on on arrival? How much would it cost? Is the border between Laos and Vietnam open at a particular crossing or should we find a different route? How are the Red Shirt protests in Bangkok affecting tourism? Are the taxis in Cusco on strike again?
Twitter allows for up-to-the-minute information to be shared in ways that email and news sources cannot. You’re connected to real people who are right there and can give the most recent accounts.
We spent hours scouring the internet for deals on flights, hotels and car rentals. Many of these companies are on Twitter (and/or Facebook) and regularly tweet out deals only to Twitter followers. Following airlines, hotel chains, hostel sites etc can get you on the fast track to saving some money!
We also contacted companies directly with great results. For our birthdays I emailed the hotel we planned on staying at to let them know how excited we were to be staying at their hotel to mark our 6 month travel anniversary and to celebrate both our birthdays. The Ista Amritsar hotel went out of their way to make us comfortable.
You could do the same with Twitter. Many companies follow their own @mention and #hashtag. You could tweet out about your intentions or even make a special request. For example: Looking forward to my @GAPAdventures tour this weekend! or Can’t wait to stay at the #yvr #sheraton this evening…hoping for an upgrade . You just might make a connection and it’s connecting with real people that make the experience better.
Companies rely on more than just advertising for business and customers. There is no stronger sales method than word of mouth and savvy businesses watch their Twitter feed to see what customers are saying about them.
Good feedback is always welcome and I encourage you to use Twitter to provide positive feedback on products, services or experiences you have had. I especially like to promote small local businesses but all companies benefit from satisfied customers telling their friends.
Negative feedback should be used cautiously. On the one hand, you don’t want your tweeps to have the same bad experience you had but, on the other hand, we have to be careful of the power of our tweets. If you’ve had a bad experience with a company make sure that you try to deal with it privately with them before publicly ‘outing’ them. A company deserves the right to fix a wrong before you tweet it out to all your followers. Having said that though I have heard of people not getting anywhere with a complaint until they put it out on Twitter…and then the company was ready to resolve the issue right away!
The information available on Twitter and from other Twitter followers is limitless. All you have to do is tap into it!
What types of information do you use Twitter for while traveling?
You can catch up from the beginning of the Twitter Travel Tips series with these posts: