3OYS: Find travel tips, deals on social media

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by Gary Harper

Bio | Email | Follow: @GaryHarper3TV

azfamily.com

Posted on March 15, 2014 at 4:31 PM

Updated Saturday, Mar 15 at 4:40 PM

PHOENIX -- Summer travel deals pop up all the time on social media, but these personalized deals could cost you your privacy.

After booking a trip, frequent traveler Christine Kirk usually tweets out a request for advice on what spas and restaurants to visit near her hotel. Sometimes the property tweets back with a few suggestions.

"It’s just a really convenient way for me to communicate with the hotel," Kirk said.

Hotels, airlines and cruise lines are all beginning to turn to social media to ensure that your trip is a good one.

Loews Hotels recently launched social reservations, where people can book rooms through a secure Twitter chat with an agent. Booking is just the beginning for these companies.

"They are engaging with them in a much earlier part of the trip planning process and providing a lot more personal advice than they have in the past," said Rich Beattie, of Travel and Leisure.

Beattie said even big brands are responding to travelers on a one-on-one level through social media sites like Facebook and Instagram.

"They showed that customers who engage with companies on social media spent 20 to 40 percent more than customers who don’t," he said. "So travel companies realize there’s a huge upside now to engaging with customers on a very direct, one-to-one level."

Carrie Mitchell, the public relations director for a Four Seasons property, said their popular "Pin.Pack.Go" program on Pinterest has proven successful.

"It works as a collaborative exchange between property and guest," Mitchell said. "So before they’re coming, they create their own boards with a destination they would like to go to. It really helps us with customization."

At some hotels, a digital concierge can help you customize your stay or give you rewards if you check in through Foursquare.

"With so many emerging platforms, we like to see how guests are responding to social media trends," Mitchell said.

A downside, Beattie said, is that travelers give up some of their privacy in exchange for tips.

"But that’s what social media is, is sharing, and if you don’t want to share anything, you shouldn’t share it," he said.

In the meantime, he added, benefits to travelers can only improve.

"Where travelers are on the ground," Beattie said, "the opportunity to reach them at that time with specific offers in destination, I think, is going to be the next big thing in social media."

That growth sounds good to Kirk, who said the interaction makes travel more fun.

"You really get a feel for the destination that you’re traveling to and sort of get excited about your upcoming stay," Kirk said.

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