Leverage Social Media to enhance travel business: IT Experts

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Trivandrum: Social Media should be embraced by the travel, tour and hospitality industry in Kerala to boost opportunities and enhance their business. This was the key takeaway from a day-long workshop organised by Kerala Tourism in partnership with Facebook on ‘Leveraging Social Media and Information Technology’ in Thiruvananthapuram as part of the ‘Travel Goes Social’ programme.

Inaugurating the workshop, Tourism Minister, Shri A P Anil Kumar said that this was the first such workshop by Kerala Tourism and the response to the initiative was encouraging. He added that awareness of the latest trends in Social Media & IT would set the tone for the development and growth of tourism in Kerala.

The ‘Travel Goes Social’ programme is aimed at helping travel and tourism professionals explore the potential of social media in marketing and promotion. The resource persons for the workshop were Anand Parthasarathy, IT Consultant & Editor of IndiaTechOnline.com; Sachin Rao, Head of Small & Medium Business, Facebook (India) and Esme Lean, Advertising Specialist, Facebook. The second workshop in the series will be conducted in Kochi.

In his session on ‘IT-enabling the travel and tourism industry’, Anand Parthasarathy started with an overview of the expanding mobile connectivity and reach of internet. He said that the travel and hospitality industry cannot afford to ignore the challenges and the opportunities presented by the mobile, smartphone and other Internet- enabled personal devices. He asked entrepreneurs from the industry to get on the Social Media bandwagon as it connects them to new business in an unprecedented way. At the same time he also cautioned them that Social Media was a double edged sword which could damage their online reputation, if not used properly.

During his presentation, Sachin shared interesting statistics on people sharing travel stories on Facebook and how they post updates while on travel. According to statistics, more than 50% plan a vacation based on these updates. There are 1.15 billion users with 819 million using on mobile. In India alone, 34 million use everyday. These figures show how important it is for this industry to have a presence on Facebook.

Esme gave step-by-step instructions and useful tips for the travel, tour and hospitality industry to promote themselves on Facebook thereby attracting new customers while retaining past visitors.

S Harikishore IAS, Director of Kerala Tourism and other senior officials of the Department also attended the workshop along with about 100 other participants from the industry.

By Anil Philip
Kerala IT News

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