Four travel management company executives speaking on a panel last month at The Beat Live said that while they are struggling with social networking, mobile technology solutions are more palpable. Here's a sampling of what they had to say. [more]
"We're looking at a mobile solution right now," said A&I Travel president Rebecca Martin. "We don't build our own technology, we source it. Mobile is one. We spent a lot of time thinking about it. We haven't plunged into social media just yet. We have a Facebook page and a Twitter thing, we're just not doing anything with it." A&I is more focused on account management and analyzing client spending, she said.
"We have struggled with social media because we don't know how to monetize it," said Protravel COO Tony Shepherd. "We have a large client base. It's simple to put up a Facebook page, and it's fine for getting out information, which we do, but we're nowhere near creating a business model. We don't understand it well enough yet. Mobile? We support what our clients bring, but it's mostly for information. We push to those and communicate with clients where we can. We're still looking; it's early days."
"Our take on social media and technology in general is that we use tech to get closer to our customer and create a more intimate experience," said TS24 CEO Tammy Krings. "We want to still give the consumer the feeling that we're there. One example would be pushing the itinerary, but we also have people working those 24/7." Krings said her company is creating a mobile app out of its customer portal. "We're also trying to figure out social media," she added. "It's not clear yet how the client is using it and how we might add value. We do use Twitter. Our leisure department stalks people on Twitter and they get a lot of sales that way."
"To build out something like TripIt is an unnecessary expense," said Short's Travel Management president David LeCompte. "TripIt spent millions on it and we have adopted it. Social media? We don't use Twitter to communicate. We do use Twitter feeds on our portal" to provide travel information such as State Department warnings.