Travelers, Businesses Find a Timely Tool in Twitter

Tablet Hotels utilizes its Twitter account similarly to JetBlue, keeping an eye on what customers are saying and what they can do improve their experience. "We had one of our TabletPlus members Twitter from the front desk when the hotel was giving her a hard time," Michael Davis, co-founder of Tablet Hotels, said. "We caught it within 30 seconds of posting and our customer service called the hotel to resolve."

"Customer problems can no longer be kept 'quiet' with the emergence of the Web," Davis said. The Marriott hotel group agrees, which is why they have not one, but two Twitter accounts. One serves as public relations and customer service vehicle, while the other focuses on Marriott's efforts to go green.

"The most interesting way we used Twitter was after the attack on our Islamabad hotel," senior director of public relations for Marriott John Wolf said. "The responses were not only heartwarming but overwhelming. It really represented what social media is all about because the conversation was authentic and genuine, and because the replies came from people in so many nations."

Fairmont Hotels and MGM Mirage are other popular hotel tweeters.

Destinations

Before road warriors and leisure travelers hit the road, more are turning to Twitter to scout their destination. Baltimore, Chicago and Philadelphia tourism officials are active users on the site and use it to offer tips from restaurants to shopping and everything in between.

The man behind Baltimore's account, Tom Rowe, frequently responds to tweets requesting live music on specific dates. "We'll respond with what's on our radar, but the community will chime in," Tom Noonan, president and CEO of the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association, said.

Noonan also points out the friendly banter on Twitter between cities. In late December, the twittering forces behind the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation dared Baltimore to a "Poe down" to see who can out-promote who over the upcoming 200th birthday of author Edgar Allan Poe.

"We try to be transparent with Twitter," Caroline Bean, national media relations for Philadelphia Tourism, said. "I have no problem letting people know who I am. I don't want to be some mysterious 'Philadelphia Tourism bot' but instead, a real human voice who loves Philadelphia and wants to tell other people about this awesome city."

Even specific destinations are getting into the micro-blogging madness. California's Monterey Aquarium is an avid user, as are the folks behind the Brooklyn Museum, who promote exhibits and happenings on the site.

The San Francisco Zoo learned the power of Twitter early on. "We had one [user] complaining that one of our exhibits was closed," Gwendolyn Tornatore of the Zoo said. "They had come all the way out here and were upset they didn't get to see that specific animal. This was a key learning experience for us and we started to Twitter when animals were off exhibit or if our carousel was closed for the day."

Readers, have you had any experience using Twitter for travel? Share your stories below.

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