Coach tour firm Trafalgar to make social media the ‘heartbeat’ of the brand

gavintollmanCoach holiday firm Trafalgar is to make social channels the “heartbeat” of the brand as it prepares to unveil a tie-up with social media aggregator Stackla.

The operator, part of The Travel Corporation stable of holiday brands that includes Contiki and AAT Kings, will relaunch its website tomorrow with user generated content as its central pillar.

Trafalgar global chief executive Gavin Tollman told Mumbrella that its partnership with Sydney-based Stackla and customer reviews via Feefo will alter the way the 70-year-old brand markets itself.

“We need to change the lens. We need to stop talking about the brand ourselves and get consumers talking about it,” he said.

The deal with Stackla will see all social media content mentioning Trafalgar pulled together and fed in real time through to Trafalgar’s website. Tollman claimed Trafalgar will be the first tour firm to partner with the aggregator when the content goes live tomorrow.

stacklaHe said the move is designed to exploit the mass of social media activity undertaken by its customers when they travel on a Trafalgar tour in addition to helping to spread the message that coach touring has evolved.

“We have changed the nature of escorted coach touring over the past five years and include far deeper and richer local experiences. But in a mature category that has a stereotypical legacy view of what escorted touring is, no one believes us, or at least not enough people believe us that it has changed,” Tollman said.

“I would estimate that 70 per cent of guests on our trips post on social media but they were not attributing their experiences to a Trafalgar tour. We are now encouraging guests to use the hashtag #trafalgarinsider when they tweet and Stackla will aggregate the posts.”

He said it will allow guests to effectively market Trafalgar’s product in a “far more powerful” way that its own staff could do. Customers will become brand advocates, Tollman added, citing Trip Advisor research that claims almost nine out of 10 people believe the views and opinions of fellow travellers.

“This is not about the launch of a new website but making the entire brand driven by user generated content. Social media will be the heartbeat and essence of our brand,” he said.

Until now, the estimated “tens of thousands” of positive social comments about a Trafalgar holiday have been largely wasted, he said.

He denied that negative reviews or social comments will be weeded out, saying such an approach would inevitably backfire once it was “found out”. “We would lose all credibility,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tollman said Trafalgar will again employ Kerri-Anne Kennerley as its brand ambassador, with TV ads remaining a key element of its marketing mix.

He declined to reveal how much Kennerley will be paid but said the agreement will deliver a “significant ROI”.

“She is trusted and recognised and will be both a brand advocate and ambassador for us,” Tollman said.

Steve Jones


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