Flip.to, the comprehensive social media service for hotels and airlines distinguishes itself from other tools currently available in that it communicates with hotel guests and airline passengers at time of booking. In what's called magnetic marketing, it's the time when the brand and customer are most attracted to each other, and dispels today's popular belief that proximity is the best means for rewarding visitors.
Currently in Beta and created by the innovative New York City based Novologies team, the Flip.to software is integrated seamlessly into existing Web sites and attaches to their booking engines. When a customer books a room at a hotel or a flight with an airline, he or she is presented with a social network notice. This allows them to tweet or send an update status on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn immediately to all those who are following them on the three networks.
Differing from Foursquare and some of the other location-based social network services, this check-in process is based on transactions versus mere location. It allows customers to communicate with their social networks within the 'natural' confines of the booking site - so they are more inclined to engage. And as an additional incentive, hotels like The James in Chicago rewards each guest with a 'complimentary room upgrade' to reinforce that engagement. This value-add incentive is far more valuable to the user then merit badges and mayoralships awarded on Foursquare.
As a result of this process, Flip.to converts guests and passengers into brand advocates and an extension of the hotel chains' and airlines' public relations and sales force. 'Passed links' for anyone that is currently active on social networks is more effective than a costly advertising campaign. A link that is shared with friends, followers and colleagues gains trust with a brand's targeted audience. "The power of spreading the word among your networks, whether it's on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, an email or a blog, lies in the link that points back to your company," note Brian Kent, one of the co-founders of Novologies.
The power of the link multiplies exponentially when the network followers learns about the brand via a tweet or status update and are invited to add their own reviews and recommendations, such as places to eat, nightlife or in the case of an airline, what do and see at the airport.
Each guest after the booking process is provided with a customized voucher that entitles them to their incentive, e.g. a guestroom upgrade in the case of The James Chicago. Each voucher is affixed with a specific QR code available for one time use and is easily redeemable on a smartphone or time of check-in.
Each Flip.to user who participates is given their own unique Web site page branded by the hotel or airline where they booked their hotel room or flight. The Flip.to or 'Concierge' page is tailored specifically to the individual user and becomes a landing page to compile all the recommendations that come in for that particular traveler.
Flip.to's Concierge Page
By announcing one's reservation at a hotel or with an airline, one's social network can assist users plan their trips with first-hand information about what to see and do while traveling.
According to Natalie at the social media blog, Red Humpy, "On your personal Flip.to page, you will see the recommendations for places to eat or visit, travel tips, or whatever else the people in your network feel is helpful for you to know during your stay. You are getting valuable information from your trusted personal network, and the business using Flip.to has just reached your entire social network through one simple transaction."
Flip.to Concierge PageThe 'Concierge' page is so named because it allows a hotel's concierge, front desk personal or hotel managers to also be able to communicate with the guests or passengers. This is an opportunity for the hotel staff to provide each guest with insight as to what is happening in and around the hotel, if the in-house restaurant is offering any specials or if there are any planned activities or events scheduled during the guest's visit. In the case of airlines, this same type of communication can be used to allow passengers to communicate with communities they find at their gate as well as learn about 'specials' and 'discounts' offered by airport merchants, restaurants and bars.
According to a WebWire press release, Novologies has launched with Beta partners that include the Tune Hotel chain in Malaysia and the UK, the James Chicago & New York Hotels and the Eureka Casino Resort in Nevada. The company is currently working with other hotels and airlines and inviting interested business to sign up for their Beta program. The Flip.to website offers more information, a tour, and a sign-up form.
With Foursquare and other location-based services relying solely on geo-location, they miss the important opportunity for users to communicate with their social networks when the 'magnetic' timing is right - during and post booking! While 'location' is not to be dismissed, it's the combination with 'timing' that allows users to collaborate with their brands and followers in a much more meaninful way.