Tourism and social media marketing make the perfect pair in the digital world.
Here are some of the statistics demonstrating the impact of social media on decision-making:
37% of Millennials have had their holiday destination influenced by social media and 34% have booked a holiday because of content seen on social media. (WeSwap)
1,000,000 travel-related hashtags are searched weekly. (Wex, 2019)
74% of travellers state they use social media while traveling.
No longer do people have to wait until days after the holiday concludes to develop photographs and share with their friends. These days, they can share photographs, take videos and even livestream their vacation from wherever they are. What better way to showcase exotic destinations, beautiful scenery, fun activities and delicious food!
Not only that, as a potential traveller, we can collect significant amounts of information on destinations, hotels, restaurants and more by simply browsing social media accounts and review websites. What does this mean for hoteliers? We are in the age of information powered by word of mouth – and expectation management is more important than ever before.
From this, we know the powerful influence of social media on the tourism industry. And in this article, we share 5 ways you can craft effective social media strategies and use it to your advantage.
1. Transform travel research
The most profound effect that social media has had on the tourism industry to date is the democratisation of online reviews. When booking travel today, 89% of travellers plan their travel activities influenced by the online content posted by their peers.
From social sharing sites such as Instagram to crowd-sourced review sites such as TripAdvisor, people are browsing the Internet for travel inspiration and validation from their social network. There, they can easily find other travellers’ photos, reviews, ratings and more.
Seeing wanderlust photographs shared on Instagram and the like can trigger desires to replicate similar experiences even when people haven’t even heard of the destination before. This has done wonders for best-kept secret destinations such as Bridestowe Lavender Farm in Tasmania, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach in Iceland and many more.
However, these days, most savvy travellers are aware of the how social media tends to showcase highlight reels and focuses only on the positive aspects. Thus, the first thing one would do is to jump on sites like Tripadvisor to gather genuine reviews, advice and feedback from many other visitors.
In crafting your social media strategy, it is important to keep this in mind. Potential travellers need to weigh up various viewpoints to help with their decision making when it comes to planning their holidays. To manage expectations effectively, consider what sort of information will be pertinent and ensure it is easily accessible to your target audience.
2. Facilitate social sharing
People have always loved sharing photos and videos taken of their travels. What social media has done is to facilitate and expand people’s ability to share travel experiences with a wider audience than ever before. And more instantaneously.
This trend hasn’t gone unnoticed. Many hotels and resorts have turned to run social media contests and campaigns to ensure that they get some credit for their guests’ social activities.
For example, Hilton Hotels used guests’ wedding photos to market their wedding venues. The campaign encouraged guests to take photos, tag them with the hashtag #HiltonWeddings – and ultimately enables user-generated content for the brand that was free, authentic, and repurposed across its marketing channels.
3. Promote your hotel via social media influencers
Influencer marketing has received quite a lot of buzz in recent years and was even rated the fastest-growing online customer acquisition method.
This is because travel influencers have created some of the most popular accounts and channels on social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube.
Influencers offer picturesque images and videos, as well as recommendations on sites to see and places to stay.
Travellers believe influencers to be authentic and trustworthy, making marketing through their influence much more effective for hoteliers. Connecting with a social media influencer allows hoteliers to curate their brand online, develop engagement and connections with potential guests and reach a potentially huge marketing base.
Followers on social media platform such as Instagram tend to be more open to this type of marketing as they see it as non-intrusive; potentially giving hoteliers a greater ROI than traditional ad methods.
4. Enhance customer service
Customer service and satisfaction have also been transformed as a result of social media. The vast majority of brands have a social media presence to get in tune with their audience and, if necessary, address concerns of dissatisfied customers. Companies that respond to complaints sincerely develop better reputations and build stronger brand equity than others that do not.
When Twitter users contact a brand for example, more than half would expect a response. And if they are reaching out with a complaint, that number rises to almost 75%.
Responding to complaints and questions helps to humanise your brand indicating to current and future customers that their opinions are valued.
Social media can serve as a social listening tool to find out information about your guests. For example: Are they visiting for an anniversary or a special occasion? Listening to customers through social media can help your brand create an exceptional experience that at least meets, if not exceeds, their expectations.
5. Collaborate with travel agencies
Social media has also had a major impact on the travel agency model. The availability of information and ease of self-service booking have forced travel agencies to reassess the services they offer.
Don’t get us wrong. Travel agencies are not obsolete by any means. They are still responsible for major tour-package bookings. But many agencies have shifted their focus from in-person to online experiences as they adapt to new technology and market trends.
In fact, travel agencies can collaborate with hoteliers via an alliance ecosystem like IFCA’s HotelX to get the best rates for hotel guests and craft a unique package of activities, restaurants and experiences for their customers. Not only will this help hoteliers with room sales – it enables travel agencies to tailor make holiday packages as a unique value proposition.
Agents working with millennial travellers should consider the generation’s preference for “experiences over materials” rather than trying to upsell flight upgrades and lodging. Agencies should instead provide guaranteed unique experiences to create lasting memories.
While travel agencies may struggle to remain relevant as self-booking options increase, their advantage is that many travellers still find it much more convenient to have their holiday pre-planned for them. So consider how you may collaborate with travel agencies when crafting your social media strategy.
Social media has altered the landscape of marketing in the travel and hospitality industry. Today, most travellers determine their travel plans based on reviews and social media shares, making online customer service a crucial part of building a positive brand reputation.
The prevalence of social media has disrupted traditional customer service models – for hotels and travel agencies alike.
If you intend on surviving the competitive nature of the tourism industry, then leverage digital platforms and develop a strong social media strategy to stand out from the competition.
So, are you ready to drive your hotel business into the digital reality of social media? If you are looking for a professional, simple, fast and effective solution for your hotel, get in touch with us and see how our cutting-edge solutions can boost your social media marketing strategy.
Resources and Further Reading
6 Benefits of Social Media Strategies in the Tourism Industry