If you want to build a successful travel marketing account on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, it’s going to take more than postcard-worthy photography of exotic locations and overuse of the ever-popular heart-eyes emoji to do it. Consumers are looking to social media more and more every day to get answers and inspiration for their travel plans; take a look at some of these surprising statistics about digital trends in travel:
Approximately 95 percent of leisure travelers read seven or more reviews before booking.
In the United States, 43 percent of business trips are “bleisure,” meaning people extend their work trips to have personal experiences in that location.
Travelers spent an average of 53 days visiting 28 different websites over a period of 76 online sessions, with more than 50 percent of travelers checking social media for travel tips.
Mobile digital ad spending in the travel industry is already almost equal to and will soon easily surpass desktop advertising (49 percent mobile versus 51 percent desktop).
83 percent of respondents said they would let travel brands track their digital patterns if it meant travel marketers could present a more personalized experience. 85 percent of respondents of all ages felt customized content was more desirable than mass-market offers.
Clearly, all signs point to the importance of an effective social media marketing campaign to attract customers in the travel industry; smart marketers meet consumers where they are, and they are on social media.
It should go without saying that you’ll want to use social media to showcase destinations, resorts, and experiences at a wide variety of exotic and exciting locations, but there are several ways to go about sharing those picturesque hotspots so that you continue to draw the attention of your clientele. After all, social media platforms like Instagram are absolutely inundated with striking photography and gorgeous imagery—you need to find ways to make your showcase stand out. One great way to do this is to share client or personal photos and experiences (as opposed to professional landscape photography, for instance) as a way to build social proof; this strategy will still situate you as an expert in the field, but it will also lend authenticity and relatability and can seriously increase your engagement rates.
Use the posts you do share showcasing destinations to tell a story. As Jennifer Beese points out, “remember you’re selling an experience, not just a seat on a plane or a bed to sleep in. So when creating your content strategy, focus on telling a story… it’s not always a well-placed ad or vibrant image that invites travelers to click through.” Again, keep in mind that user-generated content is 50 percent more trusted and 35 percent more memorable than other types of media, so don’t hesitate to reach out to consumers who may be willing to share their experiences with you to help you spin your advertising tale.
In addition to posting attention-grabbing, visually stimulating but purpose-driven content, you’ll want to share travel news, articles, and blog posts to inform and engage your audience. Social Media Today makes the point, stating, “social media is rife with companies and individuals claiming to be an authority in their field, but many just regurgitate trending content… Keep your audience updated… Authority is critical here, and knowing and responding to changes in your market shows you have a finger on the pulse.” Be a voice in your industry, not an echo. Hone in on your unique perspective and find content that addresses issues you and your audience care about in surprising, innovative ways.
It’s also critical as a travel marketer to think globally, even as you act locally. Your audience is definitely interested in exploring the world, and it’s entirely possible they are finding your content all over the world thanks to the internet. So you need to make sure you’re being conscious of an international market—think about things like seasonal variations and time zone differences, holidays, units of measure or money, or other culturally rooted references. Consider keeping text on images to a minimum for audiences who may not be fluent in your language; you could even have some of your content translated or share content in a variety of languages, depending on how wide your market it. There are tons of online resources for writing help if you need assistance developing quality content.
Finally, remember that nothing can ramp up engagement quite like a good content, promotion, or giveaway, especially when it comes to travel. Your social media marketing strategy should include thoughtful contents and promotions that will increase engagement and conversion; you don’t have to giveaway an all-expenses paid trip or be endlessly pitching the best deals in airfare or accommodations, but everyone wants to save money on their travel and they look to the experts in the industry to help them make smart choices about how they spend their money.
Whether you’re letting folks in on the latest deals on a London tourist trip or helping couples book off-the-grid honeymoons, you’re going to want to master social media marketing to increase your audience and drive profits. Don’t fall victim to the predictable photo-sharing pattern many travel marketers fall into—that’s playing it safe, and you’re supposed to be all about adventure!