If you are addicted to one or more social networking sites, then that is one habit you shouldn’t kick in a hurry. With the world becoming a smaller place on a bigger network, connecting with your business associate in Johannesburg is as easy as catching up with your next-door neighbour. For business travellers, Social media apps are like having a friend in every city. EXEC talks about some of the more popular Social media apps and websites and how they have changed business travel.
“Networking is not about hunting. It is about farming. It’s about cultivating relationships. Don’t engage in ‘premature solicitation’. You’ll be a better networker if you remember that.” Dr Ivan Misner, NY bestselling author & founder of BNI
How To Use Social Media For Business Travel
With you constantly on the move, social networking sites can always help you make your business trip more fruitful. Here’s how:
Use the social network to expand your national or international network in cities around the world. Committing 15 minutes a day to this purpose will reap unexpected rewards when you travel to those cities. Your contacts can recommend places for accomodation, food or entertainment.
Check for topical events in the city you are scheduled to visit before you commit to travel dates. Sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, if you are properly connected, will keep you updated about industry events and conferences that might interest you.
Use LinkedIn to expand your network when you’re in a new city. Search for current or prospective contacts. Make sure you meet more people than you planned to and take this opportunity to strengthen your network.
Increasingly, travel sites are incorporating a social layer to their operations. So with sites like TripIt, not only can you share your travel details with friends and colleagues but you will also be intimated if one of your friends is travelling to the same city.
Plot the locations of your prospective meetings on Google Maps prior to the trip. This way you can actually visualise your itinerary and schedule your appointments in a more effective manner, minimising travel time while maximising meeting time.
You don’t need to carry all your business cards. Networking has moved to the next level with apps like Shoeboxed and Evernote, which digitise all business cards.
Use Social Media To Prepare For A Trip
A post on Facebook, a question on LinkedIn or a simple tweet can now help decide where business travellers choose to have lunch or take a client for dinner. According to a survey by the market research company Lab42, nearly one-third of social media users have used a mobile app to find good prices for flights and hotels, and 15 percent have downloaded a trip specific app. And, these apps are being used on vacations too. The survey states that more than 80 percent of international vacationers use their smartphones while abroad. About 70 percent post photos to a social network while on vacation, and 46 percent use services like Facebook and Foursquare to check into restaurants and other places they visit.
“I have read somewhere that “Technology makes useful people useless.” Technology and social media often take away from the real experience. Nowadays, travel booking depends on reviews, guidance by customer representatives of companies and online ratings. However, the genuineness of such ratings and reviews can be questioned. But, social media can be trusted because we are connected to people we trust and the comments are genuine,” John Smith
Online Travel Technology Consultant, TravelCarma
While You Are On The Road
After your bags are packed and FB status updated, there’s a lot you can do to enrich your travel experience. Social Media Consultant at Ripple Links, Nikhil Nagpal, said, “Social media has changed the way we perceive life. Anything that you want is just a phone call away.” Promoters of Carribean Tourism agreed, “Social media has made travel as simple as recommending a good restaurant downtown. It is no longer filled with the value of the unknown. With pictures, descriptions, videos, testimonies and the like, you are no longer as naive to what awaits.”
The following are some sites that will ensure you never get lonely on the road.
“To an extent I agree that social media and web technology has decreased the need to travel for some. However, I think there is another effect that is occurring in the world that increases the demand for travel. When we look around at how more connected we all are whether in our personal lives or in business, it has increased the quantity of relationships in which we exist. Some of these relationships can exists purely in a virtual world but I would go out on a limb and say many of these new global relationship are stimulating air travel because face to face interaction is still a necessity in many circumstances. Air travel is forecasted to be up this decade,” Jonathon Nield, Sr. Analyst, Capacity Planning at Southwest Airlines
Once Back Home…
…continue to network. Remember your journey might end, but networking never does. Share news, reviews and pictures of places you visited. You and your work is remembered as long as you are active on the network. A better idea is to share experiences and views via the blogosphere.
“People no longer need to travel for meetings now with modern technological conference capabilities. Today webinars are offered where people can go to professional development, information sessions and industry discussion conferences at their computer.
Social media is amazing because you can participate with industry folk all over the country and around the world. Many travel businesses promote their deals and contests on their social media accounts; so if you are looking for a deal, you can check out their FB or twitter accounts and see what different companies are doing with up-to-date discussions. I would still recommend a travel agent because they are experts and can give you great insight into what airlines, tour operators and hotels offer,” Jacqulyn Bester, Sales and Marketing Associate, Baxter Travel Media