Skift Take

B2B travel companies are taking advantage of social media's inherent function of connecting with real people.

Traditionally, social media was used to communicate between friends and the businesses that try to reach them.

Not anymore.

As of last year, travel technology companies noticed that their social media platforms were miles away from the social presence of business-to-consumer companies. A few of these companies decided to take advantage of the opportunity to reach and connect with customers, potential customers, and employees on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

The marketing challenges that they face include a complex product suite, a non-consumer audience, and longer sales cycle. Amadeus, Concur, and Sabre — which largely have enterprise and small- to medium-size businesses as customers — have gone a level deeper by interacting with clients not as businesses, but as the people behind the brand.

They empower employees to provide a lens into company culture, industry expertise, and human interests to increase awareness and conversations. For the most part, all three have similar goals but each has its own strengths on how to humanize its brand on social.

Sabre: Empower employees to build awareness and thought leadership

In the last four months, Sabre has identified employees who are social-friendly and who would be a good fit for content creator roles. The corporate communications and marketing team provided them with resources on optimizing social media profiles, social media skill enhancement, and blog training and best practices. The response from headquarters in Southlake, Texas, was positive and an online module has been rolled out globally to operations in Bangalore, India; Krakow, Poland; and Montevideo, Uruguay.

“The Employee Advocacy Platform, empowers our employees to be the voice of the brand,” says Kevin Carrillo, Sabre’s Head of Social Media Strategy. This platform enables them to share and consume quality content that is consistent with the brand and in line with company announcements related to employees, products, and industry trends. Sabre sees its social journey in three phases — awareness, understanding and advocacy.

LinkedIn has been Sabre’s most engaged community. The activity on Facebook and Twitter are slowly rising on content about employees. For example, the Facebook post about CEO Tom Klein’s speaking engagement at Villanova University before and after the event was the most liked and shared for the past three months with the exception of the ALS Bucket Challenge photo album. On Twitter, the team live-tweeted during the talk to be present online and offline for its audience.

Concur: Be holistic in platform-to-platform consumer engagement

“There are business advantages on every platform. LinkedIn is not the only place to be a B2B,” says Lyndsey Patterson, Senior Manager, Social Media, Concur. This insight is directly related to how well its brand knows its customers on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

When asked about how the acquisition by SAP would affect its strategy on social, Patterson said they will be marketing to the same audience.

Since the beginning of this year, Concur’s focus is about creating two-way conversations through content that resonates with the community. For example, on LinkedIn, technology and developer insights work best; on Facebook, it is playful and employee happenings and profiles; and on Twitter, company news and industry insights are well-received.

On moving towards other social media platforms, Concur is looking to connect with business travelers in the travel market through Instagram during their trips and leveraging video to respond to common user questions.

According to Patterson, the company’s analytics infer increases in conversions from social which provides a glimpse of its return on investment. For her team, providing value across all platforms is paramount. An unexpected learning in sharing good information was its SMB audience’s consumption of a finance related topic meant for enterprise and C-level executives.

Concur_LinkedInSource: Concur’s Post on LinkedIn

Amadeus: Change your tone and include others

Last year, Amadeus observed that its content was not growing social acquisition or engagement. Its team modeled itself after consumer brands and changed their tone, used storytelling, videos, and other visuals to further connect with consumers.

“The success of social media brands has to do with people putting themselves out there,” says Casey Munck, Manager, Marketing Communications at Amadeus. Employees became front and center and the team played up their interest in travel and technology; introduced their customers and employees; and leveraged their team’s presence at events.

As part of its team’s practice, they at-mention and tag people and brands on their posts to include them in conversations. This allows them to engage directly with their audience and quickly identify success stories to create new content ideas. On YouTube, Amadeus invites industry influencers to talk about trends on a web series called TravelPop, which has more video views that are tied to off-site events than on-site productions.

The Amadeus team started to dip their toes in the Instagram pool to be more inclusive of consumers. To them, because it still relates to spreading awareness about their brand, it’s all fair game.

Travel tech companies are more open about who they are as a brand and are spreading their company cultures via social media by connecting more with their developer community at Hackathons and industry conferences. As employees create more authentic content, more businesses will have a better sense of brands’ trustworthiness and expertise.

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Tags: amadeus, concur, sabre, social

Photo credit: Throwback photos of Concur employees. Concur / Facebook