Social media is affecting everything about consumers’ travel decisions from researching and planning to posting during a vacation. Travel statistics report that 19 out of 20 travelers are active on Facebook, and over 50% of travelers look to social media before deciding on their next travel destination.
If your brand relies on tourism, your marketing efforts must include social media or you will be left behind.
Consumers trust their peers’ opinions and recommendations over expert advice, and when it comes to travel, these recommendations often come from social media. Social media also is helping get more people to travel due to the “fear of missing out”. If they see their friends travel the world, they want to go, too.
Millennials, the next large generation of travelers, are influenced by social media. They get weather, airline, hotel, and attraction information from sites like Facebook and Instagram. They also look to other sites like TripAdvisor to see what travelers are saying and to see their photos. Consumers are enjoying the freedom to book their own travel and research possible destinations for themselves.
What Can Brands Do?
There are many things that brands can do on social media to keep themselves on the minds of travelers. The most cost-effective thing you can do is encourage your customers to share their experiences, photos, and videos about your destination. You can accomplish this by creating an environment on your website for user generated content. On social media sites, you can create a loyalty program that would give extra bonus points to your current customers for sharing experiences. It is helpful to add a “Buy” button to social media pages to redirect new, recommendation-seeking users to your page to book a reservation.
A review that has been written on a site like TripAdvisor can really affect business. If you get one bad review, it could turn away someone searching for your services forever. In order to prevent this, it is very important to stay on top of what consumers are saying about your business and reply to all comments, both good and bad. Always respond in a positive way—customers are paying attention to your response just as much as (or more than) what the reviewer is saying. You can turn a customer around just by your kind response to a poor review.
By curating positive reviews and encouraging social shares, hospitality brands can leverage social media to build positive brand awareness, increase brand loyalty, and display just how much their accommodations and activities have to offer.
What Others Are Doing
There are several brands that are using social media creatively to attract and keep customers. They are focusing on engaging their customers and keeping their brand at the top of customers’ minds.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines launched a program to wow its guests and to go the extra mile. They found many customers waiting to board their flights and were searching social media while they waited. So, KLM matched their customers’ likes through their social media pages and gave them a gift as they boarded the plan that was tailored to them personally. The result was 1,000,000 impressions on Twitter, thanks to many happy customers that told lots of others about their experience.
JetBlue decided not to advertise their services on social media. Rather, they just put their focus on responding to customers. They spent all their efforts responding to both positive and negative comments on social media. They stayed positive in all their responses and solved the problems of their customers. Their focus on customer service kept their customers loyal to the brand and attracted new ones.
Uber changed the way people travel locally. How did they make their brand a household name in such a short time period? They used the power of social media and sharing with friends. Uber allowed consumers to share an Uber referral code, giving their friends a free ride. The consumer would, in turn, get a free ride for themselves. This was genius, and they put in very little investment with huge returns.
Social media is changing the way people travel and marketers need to make the most of it. Keep consumers engaged, stay positive, be responsive, cater to emotions, keep things interesting, and get people talking about your brand.