With the meteoric rise of social media, the marketing world has changed forever. This also applies to people’s behaviour when it comes to travel planning, according to a recent article published in Business 2 Community. Some 40% of travellers use social media for inspiration for their next trip and 42% actively use it in the planning process, TripAdvisor has found. What’s more, a staggering 76% use social networks to share their experiences with others. And 91% of those who take social media into account, use social networks to share their photos. As consumers become increasingly social media savvy, travel brands need to get more creative to engage with their customers.
According to a study carried out last year, 33% of all analysed tweets were directly related to the tourism industry or travel professionals. Many brands are now turning their attention to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social networks to promote their services, allowing them to be found by people who are planning a trip.
According to Reuben Arnold, director of brand and customer experience at Virgin Atlantic, “Social media helps us demonstrate our personality and what we’re about.” Another big travel brand, British Airways, made innovative use of Twitter last summer. Sending a travel blogger to Rome for 12 hours with just tweeted recommendations to guide him, BA received more than 1,600 tweets offering Rome-based advice and ideas. This enabled them to create excitement about a destination – and involve customers in the process. If the travel industry giants are embracing Twitter and social media as a whole, the rest of us should be following suit.
Your travel business may not be a global brand, but you can still harness the power of social media. Here are just a few tips to help you on your way:
• Ignore the numbers: When it comes to Twitter, it’s all about quality, not quantity. Forget about how many followers you have, just make sure you focus on interacting with them. Your aim is to create conversations and build your own community
• Be consistent: You don’t need to create a constant flow of tweets or status updates on Facebook, just be consistent with their regularity. Hourly, daily, weekly or monthly – whatever is a sustainable amount for you
• Content and timing: Monitor which tweets and statuses capture the attention of your followers. You will see certain trends emerging. Work out what your followers like and don’t like and send relevant updates at specific times
• Think visual: Photos and images are guaranteed to work well in engaging social media audiences. With over 70 million users, Pinterest is ideal for travel brands. Users create virtual ‘boards’ where they can ‘pin’ pictures they have found on websites or uploaded themselves. Make sure you incorporate visual media (including videos) into your social strategy.
Social media platforms not only give travel brands the ideal place to promote themselves, they also provide a way of connecting with existing and prospective customers on a one-to-one basis. They have become an essential part of everyday life for consumers and businesses; this valuable channel should not be ignored as it can help travel brands take a huge step forward.
Author: Andy Speight, managing director, Digital Trip (UK)
Source: hotel-industry.co.uk magazine