How Jetsetter’s CEO Keeps the Travel Conversation Flowing With Social Media
The Social CEO Series is supported by MessageMaker Social, the social media management system (SMMS) that lets you publish and manage targeted content across a large number of social interaction points while generating actionable intelligence. Visit messagemaker.com/social and follow us @MsgMkrSocial on Twitter.
Drew Patterson is the CEO of Jetsetter, a two-year-old travel startup and member of the Gilt Groupe luxury flash deal family. The site offers 20 to 40 sales each week on “Jetsetter-verified” hotels, villas and adventures all around the world to its two million members.
Patterson founded Jetsetter after a stint at Starwood Hotels and serving as VP of marketing at travel deals site Kayak. His experience in the travel industry has helped the company create a seamless user experience. Jetsetter’s members have booked more than 500,000 room nights at 1,000 travel partners in 90 countries. The site has accrued 127,000 Likes on Facebook and 26,000 Twitter followers and works off of a referral basis — recommend friends to the website and get $25 when they book their first vacation. Jetsetter members use social media to learn about new destinations and hotels, to plan their trips, to ask questions and to speak with customer service.
Mashable spoke with Patterson about how he uses social media as a CEO and how his company benefits from being able to maintain a constant dialogue with its travel-hungry members.
QA with Drew Patterson, CEO of Jetsetter
How important is social media to you as an individual? As a business?
It’s hugely important. It provides a means of communication with our consumers, with our audience that’s really unparalleled. I got my first Facebook account in 2004 or 2005, but I wasn’t as early to Twitter. It’s been fascinating to watch the technology and consumer behavior and medium evolve.
I don’t tweet a ton, but [I’ll tweet about] random events in my life or things that I though are worthy of sharing. My girlfriend and I were talking about putting together our bucket list — we’re getting married in February, and we’re planning our honeymoon. So I tweeted for suggestions ans got a few responses from members with some pretty cool ideas. It’s a nice way to engage with folks who may have different points of view.
For us as a business, it’s a powerful tool that helps us stay engaged with our members. We can have a dialogue on an ongoing basis with our consumers about travel. Part of our business model is helping consumers relate travel to any part of their lives, so whether it’s a post on Facebook asking them for their feedback or a post on Twitter that’s similarly open-ended, or conversely, a customer support related issue — all those things are filtered through social media.
It’s great because it’s immediate, it’s lightweight, it’s really targeted and it’s personal. One of the things that’s exciting about social media is that consumers are looking for more person-to-person interaction with companies. And with social media, you can see all the history of me as an individual, things I’ve thought about, things I’ve said — and that’s not just the case for me, it’s all our customer support folks. There are different people and personalities that represent the brand, and they can be themselves.
Social media is great for customer service, especially in the hospitality sector. Since Jetsetter is the vehicle for planning an entire vacation, how do you build the trust that’s needed for such an undertaking?
Trust and confidence is at the heart of travel and travel purchase decisions. You buy your trip to Turks Caicos, and you probably haven’t been there before, but maybe you’ve talked to your friends about it. But you didn’t have any direct experience, and odds are you’re not going to go again because people don’t travel that frequently. So you have this tremendous information asymmetry. One of things that’s possible with social media is that it’s a way to start to shrink that gap. You can talk to others who have direct firsthand experience with the destination and the hotel, which is very important. Part of what people use us for is information that makes for a memorable trip. And a lot of that has to do with general insights and ideas for what I can do on the road beyond where I might be staying. And if we have a lot of recommendations from our members, it means we can begin to shorten the gap through communication with them.
How is your social media team organized?
We’ve got one person in marketing who manages social media and helps drive social media practices across the company. We also have a team of 12 editors, who write about different destinations, write our reviews and post about their own experiences that might be useful for travelers. The editors all have followings and are engaged in social media. And our customer support team does the same [outreach]. So there are a couple different touchpoints in the company where social media comes into play through different lenses. Social media is not only good for one thing; there are a variety of ways it can get play.
Is Passport an indication that you’re developing the content side of the business more?
Content always plays a huge role on the site — we [attest to] the quality of the partners that we feature. We verify every one of the properties that shows up on Jetsetter. Passport has been a great testament to figuring out how content and ideas around travel can be a bigger part of the relationship that we have with the consumer. I don’t think we’ve cracked the code on it yet, but we’re learning what stories catch interest. One of the things you’ll see more from us is how these ideas about travel can be a bigger part of the experience for the consumer.
Photography tends to do well on social media – do you think that’s been an advantage for you, since Jetsetter is known for great imagery?
I think so. There’s work for us still to do around that. Pictures are very effective communication tools, especially in a format where you don’t have much space and there’s a lot of competition for mindshare.
What is success to you, when it comes to social media?
Success comes in a couple different ways. One part is around building our audience, building our membership, building our following. And that happens because our members are sharing Jetsetter with friends. Social media is a great way for them to publicize positive experiences they have on Jetsetter.
The other part is engaging with our audience and making sure that we’re delivering a great service. Part of our proposition is that you have better travel experiences working with Jetsetter — we want to hear from members about what happened when they were traveling with us. We send reviews to members after they travel with us, and about half of them fill it out. There are three questions we ask: Did you get what expected? Are you still a fan of Jetsetter? Would you recommend the hotel? If it’s negative, we reach out to find out what happened.
How has your marketing and social strategy developed as the company has grown?
One thing that we’re spending a lot of time thinking about is how mobile and social come together. I think we’ve got a couple things we’re still in the process of working through, but we see that combination as an incredibly powerful formula, where you have real world experiences and social experiences brought to you at your mobile device. I wouldn’t have thought that would be the case six months ago.
What are your favorite Twitter accounts to follow?
Any advice for other CEOs?
The thing that I try to stay focused on is what is it that’s resonating with the community. Don’t get distracted. There’s so much activity going on in the market, the challenge for us is to pay attention to our relationship with the consumer and stay focused on that.
Series Supported by MessageMaker Social
The Social CEO Series is supported by MessageMaker Social, the social media management system (SMMS) that lets you publish and manage targeted content across a large number of social interaction points while generating actionable intelligence. This smart, simple SaaS solution elevates your company’s social presence among thousands of social Pages and accounts, helping you meet compliance regulations, maintain brand consistency, maximize engagement and generate actionable intelligence — without adding additional human resource costs. Visit messagemaker.com/social and follow us @MsgMkrSocial on Twitter.
- Beach.com Announces Launch of Travel Industry’s First Comprehensive Global …
- Beach.com Announces Launch of Travel Industry’s First Comprehensive Global …
- Prestige Resorts & Destinations, Ltd. Releases Film on Redifining Luxury Travel
- Expedia President Sees Site’s Personalized Future
- /C O R R E C T I O N — Prestige Resorts & Destinations, Ltd./