On 22 February, the social networking site Twitter reached 500 million users worldwide.
popularity as a communication and marketing tool, Twitter is also becoming a
place where travellers can find bargains, plan trips and seek customer service
when something goes wrong.
Spot last-minute deals
airlines tweet deals, with JetBlue (through its @JetBlueCheeps feed) and Virgin Atlantic providing the
most worthwhile offers. To see these discounts, follow
your favourite airlines, or at least the ones you fly most frequently. You can
also check out Wanderlisting, a
website that compiles the most worthwhile deal-related Twitter feeds from airlines,
hotel and other industry experts.
hotel chains have fully embraced Twitter as a multi-purpose communications tool.
Honourable exceptions include Fairmont,
Marriott and Starwood (a chain that includes the
Westin and Sheraton brands), all of which post interesting deals and also
address customer feedback.
Get airfare deals relevant to your local
a website that tracks ticket prices, offers Twitter feeds tailored to specific US
airports and promotes price drops on fares to thousands of destinations worldwide.
For instance, its feed @flyfromPHL
offers deals on flights departing from Philadelphia's International Airport.
Find your hometown airport in the drop-down
menu at FareCompare and click on the Twitter handle to follow it.
Use Twitter's search tool
real-time scoop on your destination by using Twitter's search tool. A quick search for
“Miami hotel deals” recently yielded a few relevant tweets, including one from Valarie D'Elia's travel blog,
which detailed a $199 a
night offer at the city's Shelborne Hotel, via the site Secret Rates. Meanwhile, searching on
the term "Vegas spa" turned up a tweet
about the "Crazy8" package at the Westin Las Vegas, which included a
discount of 20% off treatments at the property's Hibiscus Spa.
Seek real-time customer service
occasional snafu is unavoidable in air travel, and Twitter is increasingly one
of the top channels airlines use to provide customer service. In 2011, Delta
Air Lines set the industry bar high by committing to answer the typical
passenger's tweet within 10 minutes and address customer service problems
within 24 hours, via @deltaassist.
A full list of airlines is available at Wanderlisting, including social
media champs Southwest and Virgin America. A few of the
non-US airlines that have embraced Twitter wholeheartedly include British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Air New Zealand.
Check the reputation of an unfamiliar airline
service Eezeer trawls the recent tweets
from about 650,000 verified Twitter
accounts to help travellers uncover opinions about an unfamiliar airline or
hotel. To run a search, enter the name of a carrier or hotel into the Eezeer website or into one of its free apps for
Apple and Android devices.
O'Neill is travel tech columnist for BBC Travel