Twitter can be used for many things including transportation

Most people do not think of ground transportation in the same sentence as Twitter. However, they can make a perfect pair if used right. Twitter is a great resource for transmitting information quickly to many attendees at once. Once your attendees know what to do it becomes a great asset to a smooth transportation shuttle plan.

What is Twitter?

I know lots of you may be asking this question right now. It is a social media tool similar to Facebook and Linkedin. Twitter is for short blasts of information called Tweets. You open a profile, like mine in the graphic above, and people start following you to see what you post. Each posting has to be less than 140 characters including any links. The information is shown on a constantly scrolling window some refer to as the Twitter feed. One of the most important parts of using Twitter for transportation is the use of hashtags (#). Hash tags are used to organize the material on Twitter. You can use a search tool to find these indexed hash tags. You can search something like #Chicago and any posting that has #Chicago included will be shown. This makes it easy to find just about anything on Twitter quickly. You can retweet anything you see on Twitter which then sends it out to the people following you. Re-tweets are another way to send your information out to more people on Twitter.

Before the Show

The first matter of business is to make sure the event you are doing transportation for has a custom hash tag it is using. Many hash tags can be accidentally created if you do not look for the preferred one. Many conventions will use the initials of the association along with the last two digits of the year; for example #ASCO13. Once you learn the hash tag, work with the association to make sure they know what you are tweeting and when it will be tweeted. They may have a preferred method to layout the tweet or they may not want something sent out that you thought was fine. Some associations will also want to tweet it from their account. A good start for before the convention dates are to tweet shuttle times or possibly a link to the full shuttle schedule and pick-up locations. Another possibility is to tweet each hotel with the pick-up location. This is where re-tweeting can come in handy. If the hotel has a Twitter profile mention them in the tweet by using their name after an @ symbol and they may re-tweet it as well. The more times information gets tweeted, the better.

During the Convention

Twitter can be most useful while the transportation is happening. You can start with tweets in the morning reminding attendees that the shuttle transportation has started. The locations of the pick-ups can be re-tweeted for each hotel. You can tweet if there are any delays on routes and why so your attendees stay informed. It can also work the other way to as the attendees can tweet to you if they have any problems or delays. Many people rely on Twitter to keep them informed more than the print or broadcast media. If you have your personnel that staffs the shuttle dispatch booth also monitor your Twitter feed, the conversations and answers can flow freely. Again, if you can get the hotels and attendees to keep the information flowing by re-tweeting, it keeps everyone in the loop. Don’t worry about tweeting too much; it is such a fast moving media that there is an average of 18,000+ tweets sent per minute.

After the Convention

You can tweet messages thanking any one that has re-tweeted your information. Another good idea is to tweet to the hotels that you picked up at and thank them for their help in a smooth running event. If you are in the same city next year you can remind them of that by a quick ‘see you next year’. If you distribute surveys about service levels you can tweet the link to them for a better response. Don’t let your twitter account go without someone monitoring it though; you never know when someone may tweet you looking for information about next year or maybe another convention for which you also do transportation.

There are many services that allow you to pre-schedule tweets. These can be used for many basic tweets such as the pick-up locations or links to the schedules. You can use these services to start tweeting a few times a month about the upcoming show. The more the information gets out there the more that the ridership increases making your shuttle a cost effective tool for the association.