NETWORKING FOR CUSTOMERS: Facebook industry “friends” share promotional ideas and socialize across the country. Facebook has provided a new network of opportunity. Quite literally, Facebook is a network that has a vast reach upon our industry in a variety of ways. It allows operators nationwide to share day-to-day lives with colleagues from coast-to-coast. It also provides a method of sharing marketing ideas, or shall I say, “stealing” ideas from each other. In the days of yesteryear, before the Internet existed, the only time operators saw each other was through industry trade shows. This was once or twice a year at best. If you needed to farm an order out, you had to call an affiliate by phone to check rates and availability, and if you decided to give them the order, you had to fax it to them and then wait for them to fax back a confirmation. This was the entire interaction process between affiliates. Today, through the technology of the Internet and more specifically, Facebook, Myspace and Twitter, the connection between affiliates has become stronger and closer than ever. I was able to share with my affiliates that I had recently become a grandfather again within minutes of the baby being born. I began receiving congratulations messages from all over the country within 30 minutes — Nashville, Little Rock, Denver, Las Vegas, Boston and multiple cities in North Carolina, Texas and California. It kind of reminds me of the old-fashioned teletype machines spitting news out simultaneously to various cities nationwide. Only, this network is ours. This is a network of friends that want to share our lives with each other daily, both professionally and socially. This is where Facebook fishing comes in to play. I call it that because I troll the Facebook pages of industry friends to see what they are promoting in their areas and what might work for me. The funny thing is, I thought that I was unique and using resources that no one else had thought of. That is until the day I was shopping at Target on a Saturday and Tim Wiegman from Boulevard Limousine in Kansas City called me and asked if he could steal one of my promotions. Realizing that the more Facebook friends we had the cheaper it was to get our messages and specials out to our “fans,” I created a promotion. I figured the best way to get more friends was to get people that already visited our site regularly to refer their friends with the premise that “birds of a feather flock together.” So, if they chartered limousines, chances are, so would their friends. With that, we blasted out that anyone that referred 50 friends would get a two- hour gift certificate. It took off like wildfire and Wiegman wanted to steal my idea but was a classy enough guy to call me and ask permission. Likewise, I saw a Bill Faeth promotion for Silver Oak Limousine in Nashville that intrigued me. Whatever the temperature was in Nashville at the time you booked your limousine was the hourly rate of the charter. Living in Bakersfield, this was a perfect summer promotion to steal, I mean, borrow. So, I did the right thing and called Bill to ask if it was O.K. This was especially important to me since my hometown of Bakersfield is Bill’s former hometown and we have many mutual friends. Bill gave me the okay to take any of his ideas and use them. Facebook fishing……you should try it. A world of opportunity awaits you on Facebook. From gathering up new clients to promoting new ideas there is certainly a reason for you to be there. Oh yeah, you can find your favorite LCT staffers on Facebook including our CEO, Ty Bobit, publisher Sara Eastwood, editor Martin Romjue, and of course, ME! By the way, I am on vacation and will be filing updates from Huntington Beach as I evaluate the hospitality industry, as I did last year at this same time. It is a time for me to experience the service our clients demand. On tap, The Hyatt Hotel at Huntington Beach. Best Transportation of Huntington Beach, Platinum Limousine in Long Beach, Captain Jack’s Restaurant, and of course a local country club will be reviewed on their delivery of service.
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