The world of travel sure has changed. As someone who is old enough to remember propeller planes, I’m continuously amazed and excited by new travel developments. I embrace them and enjoy using new technology to help me travel.
I remember the days before ATM machines, when you had to go into a bank to get cash or change money when traveling. I also remember days before cell phones when calling home from a foreign country was a harrowing experience usually involving pocketfulls change and a phone booth.
There is an amazing site called Twitter, where the world communicates via short 140 character messages. Think phone texting gone wild. But the Twitter world allows for some amazing instant networking, with the system of “followers” and “following”.
Twitter accounts are either individuals or businesses or other entities. When you find someone or something interesting, you “follow” them, enabling you to receive all their messages either online or on your mobile phone. People or entities who find you interesting then can follow you and then they will receive all your future messages. Both lists, followers and those you are following, are displayed publically on your twitter profile, allowing everyone to interact. People can follow others right from your page with a single click.
When you tweet about someone else or reply to someone on twitter, their id appears, so anyone who reads it can then check them out and possibly follow them. A system of re-tweeting, allows you to copy other peoples tweets and send them out to everyone who follows you. The system also allows for private direct messages or DMs, but to send a message to someone, they must be following you, preventing most spam or unwanted messages as you can only send these private messages to people who are following you.
The interesting networking aspect is to search through those lists to find other interesting things / people to follow. So if I’m a fan of Four Seasons Resorts, I might follow their Twitter account. Then I can look to see who is following them, maybe there are people or entities there that interest me, so I would follow them too. I can also see who Four Seasons Resorts follows, which also may present some new and interesting things to follow. You can see how it spreads. Im a fan of travel writer Peter Greenberg, so I might check him out and follow him. Then I will see who he follows, maybe they interest me. I can also check out who follows him, again, maybe I will find other interesting things, which I can follow with a single click.
Everything on Twiiter is searchable. So if you plan to go to Paris, you can search for anyone tweeting about Paris, and see some real time information. You can also tweet about Paris and others who are searching for Paris will see your tweets and connect with you. So If I’m planning a trip I might search for “Marais” (a trendy district of Paris) and up will come tweets from people who live there, stores in the area, hotels, just other tweeters around the world who are thinking of and talking about the same subject. You can then read all the tweets and then follow and branch off from each one and discover even more, it never ends.
Business are also rapidly establishing an official twitter presence. Most travel providers, from hotels to airlines will tweet important information and also use the service to promote and advertise. Also cities, airports and other governments also now use it to get information out quickly. You can find traffic info, accident info, other useful info that is current and timely. Some combine info and ads, a hotel in Italy may tweet Italian travel info, which attracts the attention of those interested in Italian travel info, turning them into followers.
While researching your destination, search for general subjects about your trip. Seach for hotels, travel providers, locations, anything you can think of. You’ll discover all kinds of amazing things. You can tweet, “Hey im going to Paris in october, any recommendations?” or “Has anyone ever flown Delta to Spain” You will be surprised at the responses.
On the days right before your trip, you can use the service to discover any potential travel problems. Weather, war strikes, road construction. The now nature of Twitter will help tell you whats happening at that very minute, which is helpful when traveling.
We’ve used the service for about six months now and love it. We’ve even had some celebrity interaction. We follow the beautiful Dita Von Teese, a huge star and regular visitor to Paris, today we simply asked her for her hotel recommendation, and she kindly replied. (Hotel Raphael)
Another aspect of twitter is customer relations. Many companies are now searching constantly on twitter for mentions of their companies or brands. They can then virally spread the positive messages. So if you write, “I Love The Four Seasons Maui, we just had an amazing trip”, the hotel may find the tweet, and then re-tweet it to its followers, as an example of true organic compliments. Conversely, if i tweet “Had a horrible time at The Four Seasons in Maui, the staff was rude and the room was dirty” the hotel may immediately respond or contact me as they don’t want others seeing that negative comment, which is searchable like anything else on twitter. So we recommend using this power as another means of complaining when things aren’t as they should be.
Go to Twitter and just start exploring.