Thanks to Facebook and Instagram, you don't have to ask your friends about their vacations anymore. You probably know where they went and stayed, and maybe even what they ate for dinner.
The tie between vacations and the urge to post on social is so strong that, according to a WeSwap study, 29 percent of travelers wouldn't choose a destination if they weren't able to post on social during the trip. The tendency toward posting travel details online presents some interesting opportunities to travel marketers, as long as they can avoid a few pitfalls unique to social media travel marketing.
1. Research Like a Consumer
Though the majority of consumers still look at review-based websites before making hotel, restaurant or attraction reservations, there has been an interesting shift in the past few years. The WeSwap study found that 34 percent of travel consumers booked a vacation after seeing social media content related to the locale. While the reasons for this aren't exactly clear, in today's world of sponsored content and professional reviewers, consumers look for an authentic voice, which is why social media travel marketing is so important.
You can't control what people post online about your business. However, you should encourage guests who had a wonderful stay to use a specific hashtag on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram so they can connect with other travelers.
2. Talk to Fans
While consumers may be looking to their peers for honest reviews about travel-related business, they'll look to official channels for information as well. Consumers want to hear back from brands within hours, not days, which means your social media team will need to be prepared to respond to reviews, comments and questions on a constant basis.
A "set it and forget it" social media strategy focused on promotions, deals and general updates may have worked in the past, but there has never been a more important time to connect with consumers. Even reaching people online can help to foster relationships and potentially turn casual fans into brand advocates who will send more business your way.
3. Pay Attention to Unsatisfied Customers
You can't please everyone. It may sound cliche but it's absolutely true, especially in the travel industry, and it's not uncommon to for customers to vent their frustrations online. Whether it's a hotel room that wasn't ready for check-in at exactly 3 p.m. or a tour that couldn't leave due to inclement weather, marketers can use this opportunity to connect with unsatisfied customers. Not only will this potentially lead to a resolution to the problem, but potential future customers will see these interactions as evidence that you care about quality service.
Though it's important for any business to manage their social media presence online, it's especially crucial for those with travel-related businesses. Whether you manage a hotel, operate a tour group or even have your own travel agency, making the right social media travel marketing moves is important and requires time, effort and the knowledge of an expert in the field.