With online social media tools changing the way companies are doing business, it was only a matter of time before someone created a universal tool that embraces all social networks, and geared it for two large consumer segments: hotels and restaurants. Flip.to may be the tool to fill accomplish that. According to the company website where you can take a tour of the service and sign up to get onboard early, Flip.to’s goal is to turn your customers into buzzing evangelists, and they appear to have a good plan in place to pull it off.
Created by New York City based Novologies, a business web tool developer, the Flip.to software began by integrating seamlessly into existing websites and networks to provide a way to spread the word about a company’s happenings. Brian Kent of Novologies says in a July 2009 company blog post that the idea for the tool happened quite by accident. ”In this economy in particular,” Kent explains, ”everyone is looking for more business and better ways to promote what they’re selling, while working in the confines of pretty meager marketing budgets.”
To address that issue, Novologies created an app that would generate a unique company webpage for each sector that a business wanted to reach. Instead of a sales pitch, the app generated a page that asked pertinent questions to started a dialogue with customers. When the Novologies customers saw the app in action, in addition to becoming engaged they requested the app to use for their own companies. The product that resulted was Flip.to.
Kent stresses the importance of “passed links,” a link that was shared by someone you trust such as a friend or colleague, and the role of these links in gaining trust with a target audience. “The power of spreading the word among your networks, whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, an email or a blog post, lies in the link that points back to your company,” Kent says.
Same concept, fine-tuned.
For 2010, Flip.to has evolved into a powerful tool for hotels, airlines and restaurants to use a customer’s social network in conjunction with an existing website. During the online process of booking a room, reserving an airline seat, or purchasing a meal, Flip.to uses the confirmation process of that transaction to allow users to share their comments, status, information or reviews with those in their social network.
Businesses can choose to offer incentives to customers who send tweets or status updates about their purchases. Flip.to harnesses the power of each individual transaction by attempting to create a trusted link to everyone in that one customer’s network. The power multiplies when network followers hear about the upcoming trip or dining experience and are invited to add their own reviews or recommendations, such as places to eat near a certain hotel, or area attractions in a new city.
Each Flip.to user who participates has a unique page that is branded by the business site where they first completed their transaction. The Flip.to page is tailored specifically to the individual user and compiles all of the business recommendations in one spot.
“Passed links” in action
What does this mean for you? Imagine booking a room at a swanky hotel in a city you’ve never visited. During the confirmation part of the process, you click on a Flip.to link that will announce the reservation to your social network, inviting your friends and followers to help you plan your trip with first-hand information that will help you make good choices.
On your personal Flip.to page, you will see the recommendations for places to eat or visit, travel tips, or whatever else the people in your network feel is helpful for you to know during your stay. You are getting valuable information from your trusted personal network, and the business using Flip.to has just reached your entire social network through one simple transaction.
Restaurants can utilize Flip.to to encourage their patrons to provide instant reviews after the meal with a simple smartphone interface. Diners can earn discounts or invitations to special events by using Flip.to and sharing their experience with their social network, and each individual business can customize their Flip.to page to match their own websites.
Sign up for the Flip.to beta program
According to a WebWire press release, Novologies has formed partnerships with the Tune Hotel chain in Malaysia, the James Chicago & New York Hotels and the Eureka Casino Resort in Nevada. The company is currently working with other hotels, airlines and restaurants and inviting interested business to sign up for their beta program. The Flip.to website offers more information, a tour, and a sign-up form to be contacted within two business days.
While Flip.to admits on their website that the company is in the beta stage and “still kicking the tires,” the concept of a simple interface to turn one transaction into a chance at reaching an entire social network seems worth pursuing. Novologies is open to suggestions and questions by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Based on the number of Tweets and Twitter followers for Novologies, as well as the lack of related articles on the software, the concept is still very new. I can think of several businesses in my hometown of Pagosa Springs, Colorado, who could benefit from this software that reaches exactly the people they are aiming for: friends of their customers. If social media is truly about communication and interaction, then this interactive way to communicate with customers and their entire social network should be big news to a company that may not even know that they needed this tool.
I’d love to hear if Flip.to is something your business would consider using, or if it seems to be just another social media idea that will get lost in the online buzz. I would also like to find out what costs are involved for a business to use the Flip.to software. Would it be a percantage of each transaction, or a per transaction fee? Please feel free to comment and help me learn more!