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Travel & Tourism: Got Klout?

by James Whatley on 01 March 2011

I’m an ardent supporter of all things Foursquare-related; be that through either [on a consumer level] meaningless badges acquired through a specific number of check ins or [on the brand side] a fairly robust off-the-shelf loyalty card system – I think the possibilities with the platform, should it hit critical mass, are endless. But that’s just me.

Something that is yet to measure Foursquare’s impact in social media [but yet shares a similar 'is it any good or not' debate] is KLOUT

The self-proclaimed ‘Standard for Influence’ uses over 35 different variables on Facebook and Twitter to measure ‘True Reach, Amplification Probability, and Network Score’. Influence, according to Klout, is the ability to drive people to action.

This is something I can on board with, certainly.

All right there is a healthy amount of well-deserved scepticism, but when big hotel chains start getting involved in this kind of thing then it’s time for the rest of the industry to sit up and take notice.

A few examples —

Since September last year the Palms Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas has been building out what it refers to as ‘The Klout Club’ – whereupon checking into the hotel in question (actual checking in, not foursquare checking in), you may well be asked ‘What’s your Twitter name?’ so that your Klout score can be measured there and then.

The Palms believe that this will allow high-ranking influencers to experience their ‘impressive set of amenities’ in hopes that these ‘influencers’ will want to communicate their positive experience to their followers.

You got a bajillion followers with an awesome Klout rating? You get the jacuzzi!

Foursquare mayorships this ain’t.

There’s more…

Earlier than that, in June last year, Virgin America was using Klout to pick and choose which influencers to reward with their free flights to Toronto program. OK it was a tie-up to a new route launch but, as adding a social media element to your PR goes, I’ve certainly seen worse.

Key takeaways?

As we move into a more open world and social media becomes much more widely accepted, these industry early adopters are laying the ground for other, larger influence campaigns in the future and yet, while folk will often try and game the system, it seem that building your online reputation may well be having some long term benefits.

I’m fairly sure that with all the good will aside, KLM definitely picked the more influential of their passengers to bestow their gifts upon [and don't even get me started on which online voices the Old Spice guy started tweeting to], all of which begs the question:

Which is more important; the amount of people you make happy, or the amount of people that know you did it?

Answers, debate and commentary welcome below…

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  • http://twitter.com/jembop Jemma Watkins

    For me, there are two different strands here; the Virgin America giveaway was a PR perk, as was the KLM stunt.

    The Palms example sits less well with me. The people checking in are all paying customers and so should be treated equally. Giving preferential treatment to high scorers could be dangerous. It may easily lead to resentment among other guests – all of whom will have their own circles of influence, albeit outside of Twitter. Equally, if I had a high Klout score but witnessed the hotel being less than welcoming to other less “influential” guests, it would leave a bad taste in my mouth.

    They should focus on consistent excellence instead, and instead perhaps use the information they get about their customers from social networks to learn how they can improve their offering.

  • http://twitter.com/caaarlo Carlo

    Indeed, any business should focus on consistent excellence and utilize feedback from social networks. But it's also possible to be consistently excellent and differentiate what you deliver to your most valuable customers.

    The Palms is an interesting example, since like pretty much every casino, they rely heavily on calculating the value of every customer that comes through their doors. The comps and perks they give to a high roller will be significantly bigger than those they give to somebody who comes in to drop $10 in a slot machine.

    Plenty of other businesses do this in a variety of ways, like airlines rewarding their most frequent customers with upgrades, lounge access, shorter lines and so on. Consumers like to think along the lines of “The people checking in are all paying customers and so should be treated equally,” but that's simply not true. Every customer is important, but some are more important than others.

    Typically the value of the customer to the business has been measured by a lifetime value (LTV) calculation; Klout's just a different way of determining a customer's value beyond simple spend or profitability.

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  • http://www.rickycadden.com Ricky Cadden

    Klout is interesting, but only takes Twitter into account – what about the rest? I had this discussion with some agency folk at SXSW, and learned about MyWebCareer.com – horrid name aside, it's like Klout, but lets you connect multiple sources – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc – to get a more balanced look at things. It's quite interesting, and actually gives some detailed responses as to what your score is, but more importantly, *why* your score is.

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