Organization name: Blowes Travel and Cruise Centres Inc.
Name of Contact: Robert Blowes, Vice President
Web references: www.blowestravel.com, www.lifethink.gr, www.gadventures.com, Facebook.com
Book a ticket and just leave. That’s the line of text on the Facebook profile pic of Blowes Travel and Cruise Centres Inc. The Stratford, Ontario-based travel agency has been in the business for 66 years and has seen its company grow from a small outlet in the city’s downtown core to 5 locations across southwestern Ontario.
Blowes Travel began in 1949 with Mr. Stan Blowes, a telephone and a stack of blank airline tickets. Fast forward 66 years and the travel company now includes 25 employees each with desktop computers, and with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
Vice President and third generation of Blowes Travel owners, Rob Blowes, knows that people do most of their travel research on the internet. In fact, according to an article on lifethink.gr 87% of travelers use the internet for the bulk of their travel planning.
“That also includes Facebook, Pintrest, Twitter, and Instagram,” said Blowes. “Clients like to get a deal and when it comes directly to their mobile device, they are more apt to make a quicker decision on whether to book.”
So, in 2013, he hired a social media and marketing manager to set up these accounts for a majority of the staff so they can broadcast from a variety of social media platforms travel specials to their followers, and yes, friends. They also have expanded their advertising to include television which has proven to be very successful. You can view the latest TV commercial on CTV London here.
Not only does the marketing manager post specials to the company website, its company Facebook page and Twitter account, but the travel consultants also share these specials on their own pages, as well as on their own Twitter and Instagram accounts. It’s like a domino effect.
The sharing of current specials and photos of clients connects the staff internally. They feel included. They are informed of what their travel partners are offering and when the phone rings they know which special was just posted. This makes for happy customers and usually ones who end up booking that trip. Blowes Travel’s partners, like G Adventures out of Toronto for example, also share and retweet Blowes Travel’s posts. This photo of some of the staff with G Adventures caps and brochures was quickly shared by Blowes staff and then G adventures staff, and beyond.
Blowes Travel finds that they get more likes and shares on their Facebook page when they post photos of an employee or client enjoying themselves on a trip, rather than actual specials. For instance, Justin Bieber’s grandparents are good clients of Blowes Travel and when their photo was posted with their most recent trip tickets in hand at the Stratford office, the Blowes Facebook page received the most likes, shares and clicks to date.
Blowes Travel also just launched a staff intranet. Because they have five offices in different cities, they wanted a central location where employees can go to get accounting information, industry contacts, travel news with RSS feeds, changes to commissions, etc. It is also a place they can share fun and personal information, with a suggestion box, a stop and shop area, and photos.
The company’s advertising tag line is “When it comes to travel, Blowes knows.” It looks like they can add social media to that list.
Lessons: Keeping the flow of communication moving keeps employees happier and more productive.
Submitted by: Elizabeth L. Cooper, University of Waterloo SMBP
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