Travel Tourism Leisure Social MediaWeek after week, we talk about travel being ever present in the social media space. Your favorite (and your most despised) airline has a Twitter account. The boutique hotel you love has a Facebook page. Travel companies and agencies are telling you to check out their online offerings and in return are responding in unique social ways.

But for as many amazing examples of how the travel industry is doing it right, there are at least as many opportunities to do better.

Six months ago, I wrote this blog post explaining how hotels can use social media to increase occupancy. Naturally, I’d love for you to glance over it and offer your thoughts and comments, but the gist is this: thoughtful keyword monitoring can snag you business that wasn’t already knocking at your door.

“So much opportunity…”

Two things sparked the need to discuss this today. First, was Gary Vaynerchuk and his call out to the Twitterverse for a ‘hotel room or 3′.

While I am sure the tweet itself could be critiqued for optimal reach of its intended purpose, (i.e. would a hashtag have helped hit the radar of a hotel or two?) the intent is clear. A few people retweeted and responded, but one that stood out the most to me was this:

Interesting idea, indeed. And it’s not exactly a new idea. Yet is anyone listening for those optimal keywords in an effort to win new customers by ‘bidding on the guest?’

What I found especially interesting, was earlier today I tried an experiment of sorts and this was before I saw the tweet from Gary. I read a blog post about showing up at an airport with no destination in mind. It made me question why the same can’t happen using social media, so I tweeted this:

Now, to be fair, nowhere did I actually say that I was going to NYC, but I used it to see who would reach out. Thankfully, I had two responses and both were helpful!

I got responses, and I’m sorry Flight Centre that I didn’t actually call to book my travels (but one of these days, I’m totally going to – you can hold me to it!). What I didn’t get, were enough responses. At least, not enough to convince me that brands are effectively deploying targeting listening. And Gary’s tweets proved the same to be true.

This is not the first time I was disappointed in such an experiment. On a recent trip to Vegas I actually wanted to attract the attention of tourist attractions and venues via social media.

*Cue the record scratch*

Did you just say that you wanted brands to make suggestions and market directly to you?

Yes! And Gary seems to want the same thing. As do many other social media users. Hotels, hear us. There are people tweeting right now, looking for a room, a rate or a reason to choose you. How much business are you passing up by passing us by?

To be fair, it doesn’t just magically happen. You need a strategy in place. But if you don’t have that strategy currently, what is stopping you from making it happen? I challenge you, hoteliers, travel agents, tour guides, cruise lines, airlines et all: give targeted listening a try.

Already making travel dreams come true by doing exactly that? Then tell me about it in the comments below!! Or maybe you have a favorite story of a brand who heard you. Please share.

Jenn Seeley tweets, talks and blogs about Travel, Entertainment and Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and check out her most recent posts here. Learn more about social media for the travel industry here.