In June 2014, Irish tour operator Topflight became the first Irish travel company featured as a success story and case study on Facebook’s global website.
Topflight started business in 1982 with offices located on Dorset Street in Dublin. Topflight now has offices based in the U.K. and France with HQ moved to Dublin’s Italian Quarter in very plush open plan offices with lots of light, bright colours, and even two ski-lifts acting as private meetings rooms. Aside from that, there are now six brands under the Topflight group name.
To get some background about the Facebook case study, I met Peter Chatham, Online Marketing Manager for Topflight.
Peter has been with Topflight for seven years and before that worked in a number of travel roles including ski rep, tele-res and direct sales. He’s a guy who knows the industry and the travel consumer.
Peter was also an early devotee of social media and quick to see the potential Facebook offered Topflight as a way of developing their content and sharing it through a new channel.
CS: So when did Topflight get started using Facebook?
PC: We’ve had a brand page since early 2009. It didn’t take a lot of persuasion to set it up as our management team was willing to give it a go. Because of that Topflight was one of the first Irish travel companies using Facebook as a marketing tool.
CS: What do you think works on Facebook with the online travel consumer?
PC: We continually try different tactics but at the core is sharing good quality images of the destinations we’re promoting. An image has to resonate with the user and if it doesn’t do that with the Topflight team, we don’t use it.
CS: It’s the use of Custom and Lookalike Audiences that has Topflight featured as a Facebook success story; can you tell me what difference using these features has made?
PC: For Topflight, it’s been a game changer. We can upload our email database to Facebook, then Facebook creates another list of people with similar interests who are most likely to be interested in our product. It allows Topflight reach out to an audience we didn’t already have and fits with our strategy to continually grow awareness of the Topflight brand across Ireland.
CS: And what about Custom Audiences?
PC: We’ve seen Custom Audience really work well for us particularly with our 3-day sale campaigns. If a user visits our website, checks out a specific destination, when they’re back on Facebook, they’re retargeted with a Topflight ad reminding them of the 3-day sale. This has significantly helped to push up our conversion rates.
CS: Have you allocated a large proportion of your ad spend to Facebook?
PC: No, our ad spend is shared across offline as well as online channels with most of our online spend up ’til now going on Google ad words. However, with Facebook driving up both referrals and sales plus per head it is 4x times cheaper than Google to advertise, we’re rethinking that.
CS: Peter, before we finish, do you have a tip you’d like to share with other businesses using Facebook?
PC: I’d say forget about building likes for likes sake, numbers just aren’t enough anymore. Instead focus on building the audience that’s right for your business. That means knowing who your audience is, targeting that audience and providing the content, service and value they expect from your brand.
To read the Topflight case study on Facebook click here. To learn some more about Facebook’s remarketing tools, and how to use them, take a look at an earlier post on the topic, Facebook’s ReMarketing Tools
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Carole Smith is a qualified coach, Social Selling specialist and LinkedIn expert with a background in travel and travel technology of over 20 years. Carole has presented at travel conferences, hosted public seminars, delivered training and webinars to travel agents around the country and is the author of the extensive Irish Travel Industry Digital Trends Report 2013
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