Posted: May 7, 2015

Using Twitter to simplify business travel
There are many advantages Twitter offers to improve business travel.

While social media has been implemented in most companies, there are still employees and employers alike who might not fully grasp the benefits social media provides for business travel. There are a million apps available to download that each cater to alleviating some sort of traveling obstacle, be it last-minute hotel booking or changing flight plans, but these can occasionally prove too overwhelming to manage. Sometimes all you need to pool the advantages of using all these apps is a Twitter account.

According to the company itself, there are currently an estimated 302 million monthly active users on Twitter, and you can rest assured that millions of those are accounts that are strictly business-related. Twitter allows users to separate business from pleasure, so you don't have to scroll through dozens of posts from friends and family to obtain the information you truly need. And when it comes business travel in particular, knowing who to follow and what to search for can make the difference between everything from saving your company money on a client lunch to gaining better insight through reading tweets of an organization you're visiting on the cab ride over to the meeting. For those who might be hesitant to use this form of social media, here is a beginner's guide to making the most of Twitter when it comes to business travel:

Skip customer service lines or phone calls

Any employee who frequently travels for business can attest to experiencing the occasional mishap, whether it's lost luggage or rental car mix-ups. If you have places to be, spending an hour on the phone or waiting in line can put a damper on your plans. In today's day and age, it's often easier to resolve any travel-related issues by shooting over a tweet rather than going directly through a company's resources, especially if you need questions answered immediately. Airlines, rental car companies and travel agencies alike all have social media staffs that can answer to your tweets a lot faster than enduring a half-hour phone call. And because you're reaching out to these organizations in a public forum, they'll be more inclined to treat you with better respect and accommodations, as they certainly aren't looking for any bad social media press to hinder their brand.

Reading through a client's recent tweets can help strengthen rapport during meetings. Reading through a client's recent tweets can help strengthen rapport during meetings.

Stay in the know

What makes Twitter amazing in general is how any user can instantly access what the major trending topics of the day are, as well as what the general public is talking about. Taking a few minutes here and there to scroll through tweets is not only a way to gauge what's picking up steam in the media, but it also helps you stay on top of many business and travel-related issues. For starters, following your preferred airline on Twitter will keep you up-to-date with the latest delays, cancelations and potential upgrades. Whenever you have some free time, search hashtags that pertain to your industry to see what's a trending topic you can use during conversation for your next client meeting. Even following your competitors can help keep you ahead of the game and notified of any abrupt announcements.

Do your research

It can be difficult to assess a client you're about to meet with if your only previous forms of contact have been through brief phone calls or email messages. An easy way to gain a better perspective of both companies and people is checking out their Twitter profiles. More often than not, you'll find random tidbits of information that can be of use to you during a meeting, such as what are the latest products they're trying to push or important events the company has coming up. Even reading tweets that reveal a person's favorite sports team or alma mater can serve as useful information to break some ice in the boardroom.

"Instantly reserve a table for a client dinner by tweeting."

New places, new faces

Unless you're relatively familiar with the city you're visiting, odds are you have no idea how to access nformation about where to take your client to dinner or events taking place near your hotel. Before you take off to your destination, do a little digging on Twitter to follow accounts that focus on specific topics to that city, such as local dining experts or scoring deals at resorts in the city. Many restaurants even offer the chance to make reservations through Twitter, so you can instantly reserve a table for your meeting with just a few swipes of your smartphone. The more in-the-know you appear to be about the city you're visiting, the more impressed your clients will be.

Stay connected

Lastly, the most effective way Twitter caters to business relations is the opportunity to stay connected on a more social level. Twitter is great for keeping in the loop with the clients you meet on the road, because it's a very casual medium, that never gets too personal. Accepting friendship requests on Facebook can be a little too forward, but occasionally retweeting a client's tweet or responding to one of their posts will let them know that you're still interested in maintaining a business relationship. Best of all, once you begin following a company or client, you can always stay updated with desires or needs they express through the platform, which may come in handy at a later date. 

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