So to start with a fact, Expedia (the web based travel agency) has seen an 87% drop in their profit margin over the last year. This huge loss may be largely attributed to the economic downturn of recent years but could there also be a more intrinsic reason?
Expedia is not famed for its great customer service reputation, and in times of financial hardship this could prove extremely problematic. In times of plenty, holidays are booked as a matter of course. Less a luxury and more a necessity. Expedia has never had to worry a huge deal about customer retention as there was enough demand for new business. With this recent drop in profits though, they may well want to wake up and smell the virtual coffee.
Expedia on Facebook (or not!)
Social media is almost made for a company like Expedia. People like to discuss their holidays, recommend places (or recommend good booking agents). Travellers take photos and post them online. Expedia now owns Trip Adviser, the holiday reviews website and the Trip Advisor brand was an early adopter of Facebook applications with its Google Maps mashup.
How they have ignored Facebook
Expedia SHOULD have learned from this. Search for Expedia on Facebook and you will find a great many groups, none of them official and many of them of the negative persuasion. There are just as many people in the ‘Expedia Sucks’ group as there are in the ‘Expedia’ group with a lot more activity in the former. Not to mention a second Expedia Sucks group, ‘Expedia equals Awful’ and ‘Boycott Expedia!’, there is some serious customer relations needed. I can’t tell whether this Expedia group is official or not. There is no content in any of the tabbed sections, so its surprising that anyone is following them at all. Compare this to the ‘Expedia Sucks’ group where you have discussions and regular wall posts.
How Should It Be Done?
Expedia has a very active Twitter profile which has over 9000 followers so why isn’t this replicated on their Facebook page? With over 200 million users of Facebook there is a much larger potential audience waiting to be reached. Expedia need to develop an application that increases positive brand awareness and share of mind, much in the way that the Trip Adviser app did. They should be identifying key influencers and conversationalists in the ‘anti Expedia’ groups and pacifying them. The Expedia Twitter, Facebook, Bebo and all other social media channels should provide a consistent and positive message.
But Expedia is just a good example why not to ignore the power of Facebook. All brands would do well to learn from this and embrace the millions of users out there waiting to add your app or become a fan of your product. Just having a presence on one social media channel (Twitter) isn’t enough. You need to ensure a consistent approach across the board to increase and maintain user familiarity with your brand.