From time to time, we hear about campaigns or contests going wrong in the tourism industry. Then tourism marketers are faced with quite tough decisions: should the campaign or contest gone wrong just be cancelled, or is it possible to still continue with the campaign or contest. In the digital era, an online campaign or contest is always quite difficult to control, especially, as content can spread and things can easily go viral, especially when things go not to plan. A recent case study shared by Canadian Jet also reemphasised the issue of campaigns on Twitter going wrong and the and ongoing discussion by marketers whether campaigns and social networks can actually turn on you and have a completely different effect than intended (Hotelmarketing 2013).
Canadian Jet launched its fist Twitter contest, aiming to identify a winner by consumers posting creative tweets using a hashtag along them #CanJetLuxury where the winner would actually win 2 round trip ticket to any destination the airline flies to. For the airline, this was a promising contest and also seen as a big opportunity, as the airline faced some difficulties in the previous 6 months before the contest. A lot of Canadian’s Jet fleet needed to be grounded for a week due to engine safety concerns. For an airline of course this is not great news also with regards to receiving negative press and general safety concerns by consumers travelling with the airline. The contest was seen as an opportunity to improve the overall image of the airline and re-build and foster relationships with customers and potential consumers.
However, soon after the launch of the hashtag contest, Canadian Jet received a stream of tweets using the hashtag in the wrong way, tweeting about negatives deriving from the previous problems the airline had. Consumers used the hashtag to openly complain about delays, cancellations and also poor organisational care taking of employees. Of course this was a reaction that could have not been foreseen by Canadian Jet but it poses the question about what to do as a marketer when you are facing a similar issue with a contest or campaign?
For Canadian Jet, the now trending hashtag was quite difficult, as more and more consumers would start using the hashtag and more good and bad tweets could come in. In a situation like that there are several things that can be done. One thing that could have been done is to change the trending hashtag but then this may also cause confusion. To avoid another PR disaster, the contest could also be closed quicker and the winner announced. The third option could be to apologies for the problems caused in the past.
Certainly for any tourism business, it is essential to ensure that problems and also negative comments on social media are dealt with. So whenever a negative tweet comes in, it is essential to react to these and send a tweet back, assuring the customer that the company has taken note of the tweet and it is being dealt with. In the social age, it is crucial for any marketer to take social relationship management serious and to always have plans in place for when a contest or campaign goes wrong and decide what measures should be taken prior to things actually happening.
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