On 29 September, Twitter launched its Twitter Alerts, as a way of broadcasting critical information and a tool for consumers to use when critical information is needed with regards to emergencies, natural disasters or in times when other communication services cannot be accessed. This is a very interesting step of the social network. Without doubt, in times of a crisis, consumers do need timely and accurate information and very often the lack of this information and regular updates about a emergency situation can be difficult and cause all sorts of problems. Looking at Twitter Alerts with a tourism context in mind is quite interesting, especially with crisis management being an essential part of tourism and tourism businesses worldwide having to have a contingency plan to prevent damage to their organisation in times of a crisis (SearchEngineWatch 2013).
BENEFITS FOR USERS
Twitter’s Alerts as a tool can really help consumers in their struggle to access accurate information from credible organisations when a crisis is happening in a destination they are visiting. In recent years, the world has seen many disasters both natural and caused by human kind, and every time, consumers are experiencing a real struggle to access accurate information. With Twitter Alerts, this is supposed to be solved now, as credible organisations can tag a Tweet as an alert, which will then appear on Twitter users handsets through a text message or through push notifications that alerts consumers of the content if they have an app on their mobile device.
Besides sending out the content posted by an alerting organisation, Twitter will also highlight the alert content within the Twitter feed through an orange bell icon.
WHERE CAN IT BE USED
Already, Twitter is working with organisations in the United States such as the US Federal Emergency Management Agency. In the US, Japan and Korea alerting organisations can send alerts to consumers. It is expected that more countries and organisations will follow. Many of these alerting organisations see this as a major opportunity and especially for tourism this is good news, as alerts and information can be distributed via Twitter alerts through mobile devices. Warnings can be sent out to travellers in a destination if a crisis is happening, which is good news for tourism organisations, as there is a struggle to provide consumers with information they require. The Twitter Alert tool should certainly be considered by tourism organisations as part of their crisis management strategy!
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