A Travel Company’s Tweet Deals

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For the rest of the June 2009 issue of CRM magazine — The Social Media Issue — please click here.

Booking a cruise? Might want to consult Twitter first — specifically Rich Tucker, a business development specialist at CruiseDeals.com and content provider for blog CruiseSource.us, who twitters as @CruiseSource. Just six months after joining Twitter, his quality tweets scored a win in the Travel category at the first-ever Shorty Awards, highlighting the best of the best on the microblogging service. A self-described twitterholic, Tucker uses the handle to promote his Web site, share cruise deals, inform followers of industry news—and also just converse with potential customers.

Relevance is crucial, Tucker says. Followers don’t want a Twitter stream full of marketing and canned promotions — they want conversation. (Several years of blogging generated a lot of traffic for his Web site, but not much conversation.) He soon realized the “art” behind microblogging.

“Follow 50 to 100 people that have similar interests and just listen and watch what they’re writing,” Tucker says. “Get a feel for what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate. Then start responding to what they’re writing and try to tie it to your business.” For instance, if a mom with a hectic schedule twitters about being worn out, Tucker will respond by saying, “Sounds like you need a cruise!” Just conversing in the simplest sense can go a long way, he says.

Tucker says his company has gained more brand awareness than he could have hoped, and credits Twitter contacts for some solid leads in the pipeline. His tweets have brought social media kudos—and have even brought competitors his way asking for advice. Tucker says it’s taken time to figure out what works on Twitter, but he believes microblogging has helped him reach more people interested in cruising. “I’m confident that all the work will pay off really well in the end.”

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