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How to Use Twitter in Your Travels

Still don’t have a Twitter account? If you love to travel, you’re missing out on some key opportunities to improve your next trip.

The popular micro-blogging site has helped countless globetrotters by providing a platform for travel mishaps to be resolved in real time. Writes Ed Hewitt in How Social Media Is Changing Travel, “Many travel companies are using Twitter and other social media to head off problems before they start. Southwest and JetBlue have both shown extremely quick response times to tweets by travelers en route and in trouble. A Southwest passenger recently tweeted about losing a boarding pass and was contacted by the airline immediately; meanwhile, a JetBlue passenger was unable to be seated with his infant child until he tweeted his predicament, which was picked up while he was still in the boarding area.”

Airlines, hotels and other travel companies have staffers actively monitoring their Twitter accounts for just this type of message. Given how easy it is for complaints to go viral on social media sites, resolving problems quickly and publicly is smart customer service — and saves travelers like you from having to sit on hold with your airline’s 800-number for three hours.

But Twitter isn’t just for complaints. The site is also an important source of real-time travel news and local expertise. “I set up a whole trip through Africa through Twitter contacts that would have been almost impossible without [them],” says Twitter user @melissashales. “Dar [es Salaam] to Bulawayo by train over five weeks, staying at small guesthouses owned or recommended by Twitterers, game lodges and old haunts. Fab!”

User @flyingwithfish is similarly appreciative: “Food, directions, [weather] updates … The number of things I have received help from Twitter on while traveling is extensive. I’ve had two airports help me make short connections via Twitter.”

Sure, you may need to wade through a few banal “what I had for dinner” tweets — but it’s worth it for all those times when the site serves up the perfect restaurant recommendation in Venice or a time-saving traffic update on the way to the airport.

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