In its relatively short history, social media has already infiltrated most industries and changed the way consumers go about finding information and making purchase decisions. One industry that has been widely affected by social media campaigns is the travel industry.
Kelly Darmer writes, “The travel industry utilizes five inventive ways to harness the power of social media:”
- competitions and promotions
- special offers and group deals
- SEO and boosting awareness
- customer reviews
- engaging with customers on a personal level
On Funsherpa’s widely sharedinfographic, research shows that 87% of travelers use the Internet for a bulk of their travel planning, 76% post vacation photos to a social network, and 85% of leisure travelers use their smart phone while traveling.
Given these findings, it’s no wonder that travel brands have been creating and employing social campaigns to engage prospective and existing customers.
Social Campaigns and the Travel Industry
When Rich Beattie, the executive director of travelandleisure.com, noticed significant growth in the travel industry’s use of social media he had the idea to hold their first Social Media in Travel & Tourism awards, the Smittys–that were announced in July 2012. As Beattie said, “Social media has become so essential to the travel experience, in everything from trip planning to how you experience a destination, to how you interact with your friends after the trip is done.”
Travelandleisure.com received a wide assortment of entries that included U.S. airports, global hotels, resort chain’s single promotion via social media and promotions of travel deals from an online travel agency. The campaigns used 9 different venues: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foodspotting, Foursquare, Microsites, Custom Apps, YouTube and Blogs.
The winning campaigns consisted of a multitude of creative ideas including:
questions, guest tweets, photographs, custom tabs on Facebook, guides to culinary highlights on Foodspotting, sharing a movie scene, Twitter competition of ordinary citizens, users curated and shared lists of destinations, audio messages and videos and real-time reports, YouTube videos, frequent-flier points and discounts to customers who used Facebook places, custom shareable videos that included music and photos of their friends, virtual buses and dream trips, Facebook app that located friends worldwide and displayed least expensive rates to fly there, plus many more.
What Should Travel Brands Keep in Mind When they Create a Social Media Campaign?
Shama Ahmed of Thismoment suggests that travel brands use several components as a check-list for creating a solid social media campaign:
- Go visual: Entice customers with appealing visuals on social sites such as Pinterest, Facebook and YouTube.
- Optimize for Mobile Viewing: Consider mobile as a natural extension of your digital marketing strategies.
- Feature coupons, discounts and contests: ROI Research’s survey shows that 53% of social network users liked or followed travel brands because of the coupons and discounts offered. It’s a good ideas for travel marketers to feature those season special offers and attract customers with the ideas of winning a trip to their favorite destination.
- Use Facebook to present an image that reflects what your brand is all about. Users trust recommendations about a particular destination posted by their friends on Facebook; travel brands can use Facebook’s share option to encourage customers to share recommendations and experiences.
Shama Ahmed further suggests that travel brands consider social media to be a vital part of their marketing arsenal. Besides focusing on Facebook, brands should make the most of Pinterest where they can showcase their campaigns and visuals; connect with the ‘on the go’ consumer as they research trips, post reviews and download coupons from their mobile devices.
In many respects, the travel industry has made an easier transition to social campaigns than other industries. For one thing, travel lends itself naturally to people’s comments and opinions, and a desire for visuals that show the journey, destination and what to expect once the traveler gets there. Ideas should be creative and offer a desirable and sought-after reward. For inspiration you can read more about the campaigns that were winners in travelandleisure.com’s contest.