What if you’re stranded and Twitter doesn’t work? 10 things you can do to your travel plans back on track

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by our partner, Philippe Scheimann from SOSTravelers.com on what to do in a situation where Twitter is down and you’re stranded. The article provides Top 10 tips on what to do if you’re stuck and still want to carry on your travel plans.

In previous articles published in collaboration with SimpliFlying (see crisis management section) and at SOStravelers.com, we have shown how Twitter can be very useful if you get stuck in an airport or in some remote place because of an earthquake or various other reasons.

Thanks to Twitter, you may be able to connect to your airline company, become a follower, send and receive direct messages. It may actually be faster than waiting in line to talk with an airline rep who may not be updated with all the current information.

Twitter also allows you to get information from reliable sources as well as connect with other people who are willing to help (use #getmehome..).
At SOStravelers, we very much use Twitter and like to help stranded travelers who tweet for help (see our first story).

However, it happened and unfortunately it will happen again: you try to send a tweet, connect to your Twitter account and you get these kind of messages:

  • Twitter is currently down for some users. We are aware of the problem and working on it.”
  • “It appears that Twitter is currently down for most users”
  • “Twitter is currently down for planned maintenance”

Hence, there is a need to think of various alternatives in the case Twitter does not work. As you will see, those alternatives are actually valid options also when Twitter does work…

We still suppose that you may have a connection to the Internet or at least a phone connection.

Here is a list of 10 actions you can take in order to find some solutions to your situation.

1. Use good old email

Good old email remains very popular so why not use it while you are stranded? Indeed, email does not provide a real time platform for communication. However, if you are able to express your needs and if you know where to send your request, this might be the solution.

For instance, travel agents, who are part of SOStravelers network, prefer to work with email so that they can receive accurate information and they can react to it accordingly. In the case of SOStravelers, travelers can email us or send an online request by accessing the website through their smartphone or laptop. We’ve carefully set up an online form that is simple to fill in and that provides enough information for our travel agents to handle the request.

Note that it is important to carefully choose the subject of your email so that your message will be read as soon as possible.
It is also recommended to prepare a list of email addresses before your trip including your travel agent, airlines and more.

2. Set up or join a chat room

It might be possible to reach airlines reps through chat. Check if they have published a chat room or if they have a chat service on their website. It is recommended to have accounts with services like skype or google that provide a chat feature along with the voice and video. In the cases of low bandwidth, communicating through chat is probably the best platform to use.

3. Come to Facebook

Even if you are not a fan of Facebook, it is a good idea to check in with Facebook. You may easily update your status so that your friends and family will know your situation.

In some instances, the airline company or the airport will set up a page specifically for the issue to handle. You need to ask around you to know if there is a relevant space on FB that you can connect to.
Indeed, airlines, media (radio, TV channels, papers…) are active on FB during events such as the tornado in Saint Louis last April 2011. It is recommended to become member of groups that can help. During the volcano event last April 2010, many travelers used Facebook, opened special groups such as “Carpool in Europe”,  “Help stranded travelers” which is no longer working. SOStravelers has a FB page and a FB group where members can interact, get tips and work out some possible solutions.

4. Check alternatives

Twitter is not the only online social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters. You may want to check  other services that may actually interface with your FB and Twitter accounts. You can choose services like Tumblr, FriendFeed, Posterous, Plurk, identi.ca or Jaiku which is part of Google.  Some services like Status.net (formerly Laconi.ca) allow people to start very easily their own microblogging network (free & paid versions).

5. Start socializing & look for collective solution

When technology does not work, it is high time to rely on … yourself and people around you. It is time to socialize with travelers around you. Actually, with the help of SOStravelers, you may be able to build up some collective solutions like renting a car together, charter a bus together or book a number of hotel rooms. Stranded travelers can join their forces to find some outside-of-the-box solutions to their problems.

6. Use Google+

Google has started this last summer with an online social service called Google+. Taking into account the power of Google and its integration with its other applications like gmail and youtube, it is the opinion of the author and many others (like Robert Scoble)  that this service is here to stay. G+ can provide some outstanding services to stranded travelers as well as travel related companies. For instance, a traveler can open a hangout and handle a video conference with up to 10 people. Instant messaging can be set up to a whole group of people so that for instance an airline company could interact easily with its passengers.

Clearly, when companies are able to create their own page on G+, the potential will be even much higher. We’ll write about it when time comes.

7. Use your phone to … call

Of course, you can also use your phone to reach the call center of the airline or some other companies. However, those conversation may quickly become expensive especially if you are abroad, having to pay premium for your cellular conversations. This is where applications like the one developed by Onavo.com can help you control your data and reduce your costs.

8 Use your phone to text/SMS

If you are limited in terms of your budget or if there is no Internet access, texting may be the best solution in hand. At SOStravelers, we provide our members with a phone number they can text, explaining their request. The problem with texting is that messages may take some time to reach their destinations.

9 Use location based services

Along item #5 of socializing with people around you, you may as well use location based services like Foursquare or Gowalla in order to connect and reach relevant people.

10 Search for information on the Web

Last but not least, some websites are used for this kind of situation, provide tips as well as forum. You are welcome to take a look at our page on tips and links at SOStravelers.

Finally, you are welcome to join us on FB, Google+ and … Twitter @SOStravelers.

 

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam is the CEO of SimpliFlying and a globally sought-after consultant, speaker and thought-leader on airline branding and customer engagement strategy. He is also the youngest winner of the Global Brand Leadership Award and has addressed senior aviation executives globally, from Chile to Canada and from Sydney to San Francisco. Shashank's perspectives have found their way into major media outlets, including CNN Travel, CNBC, MSNBC, Bloomberg UTV, Mashable and in leading publications like Airline Business, ATW, Aviation Week, and others. Shashank studied Information Systems Management and Business Management at Singapore Management University and Carnegie Mellon University. Hailing from India, he splits his time between Singapore and Vancouver, among other cities.
Shashank Nigam
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