Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Social Media “♫Comes Together, Right now…Over me ♫!”

I had a little travel dilemma recently. At first, everything was fine; I booked flights for a trip that was nine days in duration. I already had a place to stay with friends; so there’s a bit of savings there. Good thing, because my eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw the car rental prices. The cheapest, “economy” car was a whopping $850! The high-end was upwards of $1,100. Why so much? One week PLUS two days. The extra days beyond one week were upwards of $150 per day.

While violently noshing on my fingernails, demonstrating my rising level of stress, I frantically searched several car rental companies, travel sites, plus all those wonderful organizations I belong to, but no matter where I searched, no luck. Oops. Perhaps I should have researched this first, and then I may have shortened my trip to 7 days instead.

Ah, but then a light bulb went off in my head. Why not ask my hundreds of friends on Facebook for a little assistance? So I threw this post out there:

“Help! Need some ideas for finding a decent price on a car rental. Need a vehicle for over one week; prices range from $850 to $1100! OUCH! Suggestions are welcome...”

Five responses swiftly blew in; more friends jumped in soon after. Most pointed me to Enterprise, probably the one car rental company that I neglected to think of. Checked their website, the price was $861. Hmmm. But one friend had posted “I rented one for 10 days, $450, paid cash, got lower.” That led me to calling Enterprise.

The initial price given matched the internet, $861. I whined “I don’t have that kind of money.” But then things got interesting. The representative suggested renting from a local Enterprise store instead of the airport. And, like magic, the price dropped over $500! My only issue now is getting a ride to the rental office. Worst case scenario is a $75 cab ride. I went ahead and booked, then made another post on Facebook:

“Wow! You guys are AWESOME! Okay, I found a solution. Going to rent from an Enterprise office that's closer to where I'm staying instead of the airport one. Total cost = $346, a far cry from the $865 airport rate. Now, I just have to find a way to get from the airport to Paramus!” Within minutes, I had two volunteers offering a ride from the airport.

From a marketing standpoint, here’s an example of good old fashioned word-of-mouth via “new-fangled” virtual means. Thanks to mentions from several friends, Enterprise went from completely off my radar to awareness to consideration to purchase in a matter of minutes.

But social media did more than that. It’s true; Social Media provides an “in real time” forum where people come forward to collectively solve problems! Sharing thoughts, ideas, and solutions. Collaborating even when not intentionally doing so. A virtual team swiftly coming together, slam dunk, then quickly dispersing, moving on to other posts and other places. Using the words from a Beatles tune, they “come together, right now…over me”.

Ah, you were wondering about the title of this post, no?


Nancy said...

Yes, there is a positive side of Facebook. Cool story, Gerry!

Jessica (Marían) said...

Your post is great, of course, taking advice to friends and acquaintances, is always a great option.

Matt Gray said...

Great post Gerry. It's the power of networking combined with the power of social media which is exponentially powerful and FAST!