When is it ok to complain about things on social media? I’ve thought about this a lot lately, especially following my post about entitled travel bloggers. There’s a prevailing attitude of entitlement among some folks in this hobby. Whether it’s folks who want to keep things to themselves because newbies ruin everything or those who take to Twitter for their presidential meltdowns because the champagne in first class was warm – some people in this community act like total snobs. When is it ok to use social media to complain without seeming entitled?
I’ve used Twitter in the past to convey complaints and get help from airlines, hotels, etc. But I don’t use it as a means to score a room upgrade via trivial complaints. I’ve seen people tag hotels on the most ridiculous complaints and then brag about the upgrade it got them.
Some complaints are legitimate – anything related to safety or cleanliness is fair game, in my opinion. But there’s no reason why your first instinct shouldn’t be to pick up the phone and let the hotel staff know about an issue. If you got bumped off your flight or unfairly treated by the airline crew and nobody on the ground can help you, it totally makes sense to jump on Twitter to get help. After all, airline and hotel social media teams are usually great when it comes to solving customer problems. But using social media to bully hotels into providing unjustified upgrades or amenities is absurd and totally unfair.
Social media shouldn’t be the first place to go when people have complaints about an airline or hotel. In fact, I think people are relying too much on it to avoid in-person interactions. Tweeting about a hotel’s plumbing problem before notifying the front desk is completely counter-productive and draws out the resolution process. If you want it done fast, talk to a person.
Only when a person refuses or is unable to resolve an issue, should you resort to complaining on social media. Otherwise, you’re not giving the hotel, airline, or whoever, a fair chance to rectify the situation before throwing them under the bus.
I may well be guilty of inappropriately using social media to get things resolved in the past. But I think witnessing others abuse social media made me more conscious of it. My main objective nowadays is to use social media as a problem-solving tool only when other avenues have failed. When a hotel or airline refuses to take responsibility, then I think shaming them on social media is fair game.
Again, the emphasis should be on resolving legitimate problems rather than bullying customer service staff into providing upgrades or amenities that were not earned or paid for. On another note, we should be just as quick to reward positive experiences as we are to point out negatives. Those are my two cents. What are your thoughts on people using social media to complain about travel experiences? What is your criteria for doing it?
[Image: Alan O’ Rourke/Flickr]