Thursday, February 17, 2011

Whale Sized Expectations

One of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in the wild is about 10 whales over a series of three hours, breaching, cavorting and dancing in the water only meters away from the boat I was bobbing up and down in.

I’ve got Imagine Cruises in Port Stephens, NSW to thank for that.

I’d been doing some research for a road trip I wanted to make up the New South Wales coast and come across the website for Imagine. They had a twitter link, so I had a look at their tweets. The predominant vibe I got from their tweets was that they were a casual, easy going company who seemed to get a real kick out of what they did.

I tweeted them asking about availability of times and visibility of whales. They replied promptly tell me their was lots of both availability and whales and the tone of their communication was at all times, fun, welcoming and casual. They didn’t make any special promises or offer me anything other than “whales and fun”.

When I arrived at my hotel I asked them if they could book a cruise with Imagine for me and was told that they could, however they preferred to book with another operator, the major competitor to Imagine. It was too late however, I was already sold on Imagine and proceeded to book the cruise myself and had what was one of the wettest, but most unforgettable mornings of my life.

Everything on board matched the tone of the communication I’d already received through twitter and I couldn’t speak more highly of the entire operation. To top that off we were lucky enough to go out on a morning when all the whales were cooperating as well!

In contrast, I’ve had other, very clever companies try to target me through twitter (which, as a sales person, I love to see), however it’s not always come across as 100% consistent. One company told me they loved to look after their twitter followers and wanted to send me a great deal on accommodation, however they over-promised and the offer sent wasn’t anything I couldn’t already find myself online and the communication that followed via email didn’t continue the style of communication they’d had with me via twitter. It wasn’t consistent and, they’d almost done themselves a disservice in fact by getting my hopes too high on twitter and then not delivering.

Imagine cruises ( promised very little, but did set a tone. They accurately depicted they type of organization they were via a social media strategy and I felt as though I’d already built a relationship with them. In fact, their twitter seemed like such an extension of the communication of the company, I doubt they even see it as a social media strategy, instead just seeing it as another way to have a chat with some great people.

When you’ve already built a relationship with an organization it’s hard for anyone, except that organization, to ruin that relationship.

Thanks again to the team at Imagine, it was simply breathtaking!

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