As I have been travelling through Peru and Bolivia this year, I have taken note of how social media is developing in these countries and how travel and hospitality companies have been using tools like Facebook and Twitter.
Below are some brief notes on my impressions of how well companies are utilising social media and some thoughts on how it could be improved.
As you may have guessed, its mostly the companies focussed on Western customers, or ‘gringos’ that are promoting their social media sites, such as your companies, bars and restaurants. Facebook seems to be the preferred social media site here, and prompts to ‘Like our Page’ are often included on flyers and menus.
However once you take the time to visit these Pages many are distinctly lacking in updates, information and photographs. Obviously, this is a pot luck review of some businesses I have encountered, but overall there is a lot more that could be done to entice new customers or aid word of mouth recommendations.
Peru Treks was the company we chose for the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu, and one of the main reasons for this was because of their great reputation for supporting the porters that work for them and their communities. The porters really do all of the hard work transporting the luggage, tents and kitchen on the trek and to know that they were being treated well and some of our money was supporting projects in their villages was great.
It is a shame that there is not more information about this on the Facebook Page. It would have been great to hear about how their villages are being helped, and maybe to find out a bit more about some of the individual guides. We were surprised to find out one of our porters was 62, and Peru Treks could be explaining a bit more about why he chooses to continue and his experiences, through photos and status updates on the Page.
The Peru Treks website is extremely informative and answered pretty much any questions we had. However, images were really lacking. I expected their Facebook Page to make up for this, but there is still a lack of enticing, professional photographs – which is a real shame as it was some of the most amazing scenery I have seen!
I had a quick search on Twitter so that I could share my blog post review of my Inca Trail trek, but couldn’t find anything. What I did find was a couple of people asking for recommendations on companies, so I was able to mention them.
Bolivian not-for-profit, Condor Trekkers are a fantastic company based in Sucre and offer treks out to the amazing mountain communities in the Andes. The communities are all supported by the company and during our trek we heard about ways which Condor was helping the communities to farm, keep warm in winter and produce and sell their unique textiles.
Their Facebook Page look professional, and contains some gorgeous professional images of the trek and surrounding areas, but not many of the local communities which they strive to support.
It would also be great for them to encourage their customers to look up their Facebook Page, and to write reviews on the site feature than in their guestbook in the office. This way the reviews will gain more views and hopefully help to spread word of mouth. It would also be a nice way for us to keep tabs on how the communities are doing once we have done our treks.
A few people we spoke to mentioned the Condor Trekkers website and flyer both mention the old address, which means some are struggling to find the new office. An announcement on Facebook about the new office/cafe would alert people to what’s now on offer.
Joy Ride in Sucre is a company offering tours, on bikes, horses and paragliding in Bolivia. They also run a popular cafe bar and restaurant with movie nights, great drinks deals and generally a lot going on! Although they advertise their Facebook Page, unfortunately not a lot is going on.
They upload a new photo every now and again, but fail to mention what is going on in terms of new treks, trip reviews and events at their venue. They are still using flyers and booklets to promote a lot of this, which could be done very easily through Facebook and Twitter. Perhaps they find more people respond to direct offline marketing, but there are comments on their Facebook Page from last year which have not been replied to yet!
While walk I aground Sucre the other day I noticed a sign outside an office promoting a Facebook Page. The company is a textiles company offering school uniforms, and similar clothes (from what I can understand!) Rather than website they have opted for a Facebook Page, which is fine if you are offering plenty of information about stock and how to buy. This company are not using the page effectively as they have set the account up as a personal profile, which is actually against Facebook’s terms. You have to request their friendship to find out more information or write on their wall, and their office address is not listed.
Adventure Brew Hostel in La Paz is actually the best example I have seen, with current images of bar staff and events in the capital as well as up to date news on entertainment at the hostel. The next stage for them would perhaps be competitions to help increase their Facebook community and encourage word of mouth. perhaps they could offer free accommodation or beer for uploading images, or recommending friends to visit.