The effective use of social media is imperative in crisis management today, according to UNWTO coordinator of the risk and crisis management programme Dirk Glaesser.
Speaking at the 2012 International Conference on Seizing Tourism Market Opportunities in Times of Rapid Change Glaesser said the majority of crises are a direct result of simple perceptions, where thanks to mass media messages, consumers are in belief of why they shouldnt travel to a specific destination.
With an intangible product that is marketed and sold based on trust and belief, the use of social media can, and will, help shift negative perceptions where required and quite effectively too, he said.
Social media is a bridge that can be used to convey the message of safety, he explained.
Where there is textorial information versus pictorial information, the ultimate most trust worthy information is via images. It is powerful in overcoming consumers misconceptions.
Mr Glaesser stressed that the key focus especially for travel in the Middle East, is for operators and suppliers to utilise social media to help reduce the impact of a crisis in order to maintain and encourage interest in travel to the region.
Apart from crisis, social media also serves as a trusted and reliable source of information for the youth of today; and according to World Youth and Student Travel Confederation secretary general Martijn van de Veen, opportunities abound in the way messages can be communicated to the target audience in real-time.
With 70 percent of smart phone users posting photos on their social sites while holidaying, Mr van de Veen said the ability to interact with this tech-savvy market and provide them with real time information would only enhance their travel experiences and improve perceptions.
Youth travel is resilient and continues to grow and qith these travellers exploring farther and staying away longer, he said it is imperative for the industry to change the way they engage with them, using social media and other interactive means.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: L.T