Social media has greatly impacted the way companies interact with their target audience. The travel and hospitality industry has significantly been affected by the changes brought by social media. If you have a company in the tourism sector, you may be wondering how to successfully market your company on social media. I asked some social media marketing experts this all-important question and these are the answers I got.
How to use social media for tourism marketing? On the Big 3 social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook), travel is the most shared topic. To succeed in tourism marketing you will need to join the right networking sites, learn how to create the right content, learn how to create a social army (brand ambassadors), prepare for negative feedback, and revamp your customer care services.
4 Ways Social Networks Have Changed Tourism Marketing
Before the rise of social media, the tourism sector relied on print media, TVCs and word of mouth to market their destinations and products. Then in came social networks and tourism companies have to change the way they market their products and services. Here are some ways social media has impacted tourism marketing
Travel research changed
Previously, most people relied on ads to pick their next travel destination. Unfortunately, as most people later found out, what they experienced during their vacation was a far cry from what was advertised. Basically the ad was designed based on the company’s puffed up point of view and not on real user experience.
Today’s traveler documents their travel using their smartphone or high-quality camera. They then post their videos, photos, and reviews on their favorite social site. This content is then shared by their followers across multiple networking platforms.
89% of millennial will first go online to read reviews about a destination from their peers. Sites like TripAdvisor and social networks have enabled travelers to pick their next destination, activities, and accommodations according to other travelers’ ratings, check-ins, photos and more. Your company’s online reviews will determine whether a potential traveler books your services or moves on to your competitor.
Reshaping customer service
Another area that social media has changed is customer service. During previous years, before social media, unsatisfied customers had to call or visit the company to air complaints. The company could deal with the situation however they wanted. Today, unsatisfied clients just post their complaints on social media. How a company handles the situation can make or break its reputation.
Top brands such as Apple have mastered the art of listening to their followers and addressing any concerns or complaints posted on social networks. For example, when a popular singer posted her complaint about Apple Music on Tumblr, Apple was quick to respond on Twitter and quell her fury and that of her fans.
A recent survey showed that over 75% of unsatisfied and confused users expect brands to respond to their complaints on social media. Taking time to respond to questions or complaints humanizes your brand and strengthens its reputation.
Did you know one out of every 4 travelers is without a destination? Potential guests without a destination need an inspiration. Some resorts and hotels have picked on this need and have devised ways to fill the gap using user generated content.
A company that has used user generated content successfully is Loews Hotel and Resorts. In 2015 Loews decided not to use professionally-shot photos on their marketing campaign. Instead, they created a hashtag, #travelforreal, and asked their guests to tag photos of themselves visiting any of their locations.
Using this method, Loews was able to make their existing clients feel valued while converting undecided travelers. A recent research suggested that brands are able to convert up to 93% of potential travelers using user-generated content.
Travel agencies overhaul
Does social media make travel agencies obsolete? Absolutely not. Social platforms do not render travel agencies useless, however it drastically changes the way they operate. Previously travel agencies were part of the brick-and-mortar industry. They had to deal with their customers face-to-face.
With the rise of social media, travel agencies are learning to shift their focus to online users. They have learnt to redesign their packages according to user needs and wants.
How you can use social media for tourism marketing
If you own a travel and tourism business, you need to equip yourself with the best ways to market your business on social media. Here are some great tips from social media marketing experts.
Identify your ideal customer
Before you launch a social media campaign, the first thing you ought to do is pick your target audience. What is the age of your audience? See, a campaign that appeals to millennial may not appeal to senior citizens. Plus, different age groups prefer different social media platforms.
Choose your platforms
Your next step will be to choose social media sites. The big 3 platforms for tourism include Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. These steps will help you excel on each of these platforms.
One of the best social networking platforms is Facebook. This platform boasts of over 2 billion users, a majority of them being baby boomers. This group consists of people born from 1946-1964. 58% of baby boomers are likely to click through to your website after reading your posts on social media. Also, they have more disposable income compared to other users. Here is how you will keep this group engaged.
Create conversations: Baby boomers love share their opinions. Grab their attention by creating posts that not only inform but require their engagement. Remember, the more comments your posts generate, the more followers (brand ambassadors) you will gain.
Go live: Facebook has feature that allows you to showcase exciting and fun activities live on Facebook. Live videos receive priority in the newsfeed. So don’t be afraid to show the fun side of your business. Show people behind the scenes of your hotel or resort, they will love it.
Use lots of photos: Again you want to grab your readers’ attention and the best way is through lots of natural photos. Encourage your staff or guests to share photos of the amenities, food, activities and more on the page.
Can 140 characters make a difference in your tourism business? Yes they can. This platform appeals to both millennial, generation X and baby boomers. Here are some tips to help you in tourism marketing on Twitter
Be active: Unlike Facebook, Twitter requires you tweet and retweet regularly. It is vital. Make sure to always respond to any tweet or retweet concerning your content. Learn to monitor and engage in conversations.
For example, if someone is looking for a hotel within your locality, respond immediately with detailed information of your hotel and what you are offering.
Be precise: Make sure your tweets (content) are of value to the person you are marketing to. For example, do not market a singles destination to a guy looking for family-friendly destinations.
Involve your visitors: Your best marketers are the people who have experienced your services. Create a hashtag and ask your guest to participate by sharing their photos. Remember to reward your followers with loyalty points.
Instagram is a powerful tool that you can’t overlook. Here are some marketing tips via instagram.
Quality images: Instagram is renowned for hosting high-quality images and that is what people will expect from you. Invest in a good camera and take beautiful images of your property. Good photos will ensure people always engage with your content.
Hashtag: On Instagram hashtags are the “IT”. People find topics and content through hashtags. Before posting an image, check for popular hashtags around the topic and upload your image under that hashtag.
Win your visitors hearts
One of the best ways to wow potential travelers is through downloadable resources. You can create free downloadable guides of places they can visit and fun activities they can do once they pick your destination.
For example, if your hotel caters for families, create a guide around family activities in your hotel and around your town. In your guide include fun activities, places to visit, food to eat, and discounts from your hotel.
Get ready for negative feedback
In business, you cannot make every client happy. That is the truth. As much as you want guests to post about positive experiences only, an aggrieved guest will most likely post about their experience too. So, how do you deal with negative feedback on social media?
Practice social listening: This means that you monitor all social media platforms for mentions of your business.
Respond timely: Speed matters. Negative remarks circulate really fast on social media. Aim to reply within 2 hours.
Be human: Do not post a regurgitated response. Do not be defensive or rude. Be transparent and genuine. Apologize if necessary.
Respond publicly: Do not start a private conversation with the aggrieved party before responding publicly.
Do not delete comments. It will do more harm than good. If the comment is derogatory, sexists or racists, just report it.
What social media networks are for someone working in the tourism industry?
The best social networks platforms for tourism marketing include Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Make sure to understand the rules and regulation so that you can use each of the platforms safely and legally.
What are the negative effects of social media on tourism marketing?
Some negative social media effects include not being able to control what is shared about your business, negative comments, it takes time to come up with fresh content, and it is hard to measure the ROI. However, it is important to note that, the positive effects outweigh these negative effects.