Cynthia Johnson takes to Twitter seeking retribution from Expedia for ruining her vacation.

Last week I witnessed the online travel booking industry fail on Twitter. As you will discover in this article, Twitter served as a tool to get the attention of a travel company that failed to deliver acceptable customer service to one of its customers.

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I think the bigger story here is how 20 other travel companies failed to take advantage of the situation. It surprises how these travel booking companies don’t understand the power of social media.

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I think the bigger story here is how 20 other travel companies failed to take advantage of the situation. It surprises how these travel booking companies don’t understand the power of social media.

The Customer > Cynthia Johnson

Cynthia Johnson is an entrepreneur, speaker, and columnist that has a strong 602,000 Twitter followers. She’s the director of brand development at RankLab, a digital marketing agency and a contributing columnist for Entrepreneur, and Search Engine Journal. Read more about Cynthia at Cynthialive.com

May 11th, 2016

Cynthia Tweets a Declaration

“I will never use @Expedia again. They have ruined my vacation. What are some better alternatives? Thanks in advance for your advice!”

Apparently (deciphered from her Tweets) Cynthia booked a hotel for herself and her parents using Expedia. When they arrived at the hotel the doors were locked, the phone disconnected, the hotel was closed. Trying to find answers, Cynthia called Expedia only to sit on hold and get the run-around for two hours.

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Upset with the way she was being treated; Cynthia turned to Social Media to voice her frustration. As the following tweet-string unfolds, you’ll see that 21 travel services are mentioned, and only 6 of them reply. Of the six travel services that responded, including Expedia, only one offered to help Cynthia with her issue.

Why Are These 20 Travel Companies Failing on Social Media? #NotExpedia Click To Tweet

Why Are These Companies Failing On Social Media?

Not only is it insane that only 6 of 21 companies replied after being directly mentioned, but only one company offered up any help to Cynthia. That’s 1 out of 21 companies directly mentioned… WOW!

Need to improve your social business skills? These social media resources will help.

Social Media University:  Hootsuite Social Media University.

Social Media Examiner: 5 Steps to Improve Your Customer Service Using Twitter

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Let’s Take a Look at How This Unfolded

Cynthia sends out her first Tweet stating how Expedia has ruined her vacation and that she will never use Expedia again. This alone should send Expedia’s social media team into damage control mode. Cynthia has a large active following that should not be ignored. She then asks her followers for “better alternatives”. Two things should happen at this point.

  1. Expedia’s social team should be discussing what the best approach should be, followed by a quick apology tweet and an action plan to help Cynthia.
  2. Every other travel site social team should be alerted by @Expedia being mentioned in this tweet and jumping on the opportunity to help – Using a tool like Hootsuite, Socialoomph or SpoutSocial can be used to monitor your competitor’s for social media mentions.

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How Does Expedia React?

Expedia replies with what appears to be an automated message. This will be the only response that Expedia gives in the tweet feed. To me, this is absolutely crazy. They have an opportunity to make things right, where their customer phone service failed.

“Hello, if you still need assistance”. Wow, that just sucks. FAIL!

TIP: When someone mentions your company on a social media platform treat them as if they were standing right in front of you.

 

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Cynthia calls out Expedia stating how disappointed she is with their service and how she’s been treated. Expedia does not reply. FAIL!

 

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Skyscanner, an online service that compares flight deals, chimes in with a plug for car rentals. No offer to help Cynthia with her situation. FAIL!

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Jay in Philly suggests Hipmunk and tagged them in the tweet. Hipmunk has an opportunity to step up here and be the hero.

Here’s Hipmunk’s situation:

A) Cynthia has never heard of Hipmunk.

B) Cynthia expresses the desire to write an article about travel services (She writes for Entrepreneur, could be great exposure)

What Should Hipmunk Do?

Hipmunk should introduce themselves, express empathy for Cynthia’s situation, and offer up some kind of help with another hotel. Cynthia, being a professional writer, will publish an awesome piece that might including a special mention for Hipmunk because they saved her vacation. More importantly, Hipmunk would be showing Cynthia’s followers how awesome Hipmunk is and how much they care.

What does Hipmunk do? “Ping us if you need info”. FAIL!

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Jennifer Naylor offers up Tripadvisor. Do they help Cynthia? Nope! Do they thank Jennifer for the mention? Nope……. FAIL!

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Cynthia expresses her frustration once again “They choose hotel over customer” Expedia does not reply… FAIL!

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Next up, British Airways, Lastminute.com, Tripadvisor (again), and Booking.com are all mentioned and tagged in the tweets. NONE of them acknowledge Cynthia’s situation, offer to help, or give a thank you for the mentions….FAIL!

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Sarah  Beniot is so kind to mention & tag AirBnB, Priceline, Kayak, and Hotels.com. NONE of which acknowledge Cynthia’s situation, or offer to help with her with accommodations. Kayak did give Sarah a “tanks for the shout out”…… FAIL!

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Cody Coats offers Pana as a suggestion and tags them in his tweet. Now we’re getting somewhere. Pana steps up in a big way by offering a $40 discount code that is personalized for Cynthia (SaveCynthiasVacay). Finally, a company that gets it. Even if Cynthia doesn’t need the code, she must be impressed that they took the time and energy to customize the discount code for her. The statement “We’d love to help” should also resonate. GOOD JOB PANA!

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Who is Pana

Pana is an online/app travel service that offers flight and accommodation specials for travelers, and they also have an exceptional social team.

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Here Are All The Companies That Where Mentioned (Up to the time of writing this article)

  1. Pana – – Mentioned & Tagged – Replied with a coupon for 40% off  WIN!
  2. AirBnB – Mentioned & Tagged – no reply FAIL!
  3. Jetsetter.com – Mentioned & Tagged – no reply FAIL!
  4. Travel Republic – Mentioned & Tagged – no reply FAIL!
  5. Booking.com – Mentioned & Tagged – no reply FAIL!
  6. HomeAway – Mentioned & Tagged – no reply FAIL!
  7. Jrrnytravel – Mentioned & Tagged – no reply FAIL!
  8. Flightnetwork.com – Mentioned & Tagged – no reply FAIL!
  9. British Airways – Mentioned & Tagged – no reply FAIL!
  10. Lastminute.com – Mentioned & Tagged – no reply FAIL!
  11. Kayak – Mentioned & Tagged – Replied, thanked for shoutout FAIL!
  12. Skyscanner – – Mentioned & Tagged – Replied but just with an ad FAIL!
  13. Hipmunk – – Mentioned & Tagged – Replied, ping us when you write an article FAIL!
  14. Tripadvisor – Mentioned & Tagged – no reply FAIL!
  15. Travelcounsellors.co.uk – Mentioned & Tagged – Replies with a link for info on their services FAIL!
  16. Virgin Atlantic – Mentioned & Tagged – no reply FAIL!
  17. Extra Mile Travel – Mentioned & Tagged – Replies with no solution FAIL!
  18. Alaska air – Mentioned & Tagged – no reply FAIL!
  19. Costco Travel – Mentioned & Tagged – no reply FAIL!
  20. AA.com – Mentioned & Tagged – no reply FAIL!
  21. Vayama – Mentioned & Tagged – no reply FAIL!
  22. Travelocity.com – Mentioned & Tagged – no reply FAIL!
  23. Trivago.com – Mentioned & Tagged – no reply FAIL!
  24. Orbits – Mentioned & Tagged – no reply FAIL!
  25. Smartfares.com – Mentioned & Tagged – no reply FAIL!

With all the technology that we have at our disposal, how is it that all these companies failed to take advantage of this opportunity? This is the perfect situation for any of these companies to step up and save Cynthia’s vacation. She has over 600,000 followers and an insane amount of readers. Cynthia is a marketing influencer and most of these companies missed an incredible opportunity to shine.

What do you think of this list and the lack of response by these companies? Let me know in the comments.

James M

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