Linda Haden, reporting from EyeforTravel's Travel Distribution Summit Asia, Singapore, May 10, 2012
THE ABILITY of social media to translate into profits is overhyped, said Scoot's head of commercial, Steven Greenway, during a panel discussion at EyeforTravel's Travel Distribution Summit Asia.
"Not a single airline has been able to co-relate how engaging consumers through social media adds to the bottom line," said Greenway.
In addition, social media could potentially wipe out the intangible benefits it brings. “Scoot's Facebook page, for instance, has also become a platform for customers to air their angst and complaints, which can be erroneous and highly damaging," he said.
Grand Hyatt Singapore's director of revenue management, Fiona Lau also pointed out that social media works better for leisure-oriented hotels rather than properties with a multi-market mix. Unlike leisure travellers who can make decisions based on recommendations, corporate travellers are “constrained by corporate travel policy that dictates where they can stay”, she added.
Greenway emphasised the relevance of social media in brand management, but concluded that it was hard to justify its use for revenue generation. "At the end of the day, someone has to pay the (advertising) bills,” he said.
I don\'t agree with Mr Steven Greenway that social media\'s benefits are over-hyped. It\'s subjective as it depends on each company\'s model focus on how it wants to develop it\'s \"facebook-commerce\" strategies. For FlyScoot, it has dabbled with mobile advertising on buses, cabs and suspense/curiosity marketing, branding awareness, engagement rather than developing commercial platforms on social media to leverage on the potential sales available on its huge fan base of over 50000. FlyScoot could have transferred it\'s booking engine on its website onto the Facebook page, develop strategies to encourage consumers to book via Facebook and receive new database. It didn\'t. There were engaging campaigns such as \"Naming ScootBiz cabins\" or photo contests/quizs, consumers to set the pricing. All these comes to nothing if there\'s no strategy developed for a commerce platform. What would you expect from consumers who \"engaged\", \"interact\" with \"engaging strategies\"? I\'ve developed commerce platforms for hotels/resorts, cruises, tour packages on Facebook and was successful with it being a viable commerce transaction platform. It worked. Hence, I hope Mr Steve Greenway and his team will go through all the possibilities again as in the first place, the strategy was to engage audience on social media. You don\'t point fingers at the consumers.