Do you remember how you used to plan for a vacation few years ago when Internet and smartphones were yet to become commonplace?
The preparation started months beforehand, right? Well, not anymore. Now it is possible to be bitten by a travel bug in the morning and take off to your dream destination by noon. Travel planning has become so easy and effortless.
From doorstep pickup to accommodation and sightseeing, everything can be planned & coordinated at your fingertips. Social media sits right in the centre of all this making your social circle literally your tour planning and management assistant.
Social media is helping not just travelers, but also travel agencies and tour operators to reach new business prospects easily & quickly. The cost involved in social media marketing is also fractional compared to traditional marketing efforts of print media & broadcasting.
This has convinced at least 96% of business owners and marketers to use social media to grow their travel business.
Are you a travel business owner or a marketer wondering how to leverage social media to your benefit? We got you covered.
Here are 7 ways you can use social media to reach your target audience, nurture their leads and finally, convert them in wanderlust beings who bring in steady income.
#1. Build Online Reviews
Do you know? More than 70% of Americans read online reviews before they plan a trip. According to Trip Barometer, the booking decisions of more than 93% of global travelers are influenced by online reviews.
Set up your Google My Business account and request customers to rate and review your business there. It will also help in boosting your search engine results. You can also add your business info in Google My Business to inform travelers when to reach and how to reach you. The great news is that, it is all FREE!
Here is how your travel business listing will look like if your Google My Business account is set up. The rich snippet presentation and higher top ranking is definitely going to bring in more leads.
Then there is Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Ask for drop a mail or send a private message requesting travelers to leave a star rating or a written review for your business. These reviews will help build online reputation and trust which is lifeline for travel business.
#2. Share Customer Travel Stories
Or the story of Jack Morris and Lauren Bullen who have millions of Instagram followers. They give travel goals for their followers. Their stories and photo posts inspire people to visit new destinations and experience the same.
Image Credit: Social Media Examiner
Traveler stories are engaging, entertaining and persuading. They invoke an interest in your audience to attempt similar traveling adventures on their own and experience the thrill. Social media is just the ideal place to publish traveler stories in various forms.
#3. Share Travel Inspiring Images & Stories
In the travel industry, pictures and stories can speak a million unspoken words. Travelers want to see what they are going to get at various destinations before they pack their bags and leave.
Facebook image albums, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. provide just the stage your travel business need to publish photo stories and albums that can convince users to travel more.
Statistics from Frederic Gonzalo confirm that more than 97% of millennials share their pictures of travelling on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp.
Inviting your followers to share images on your timeline and to write travel experiences is perhaps a great way to build a community around your travel business. TripAdvisor did the same. Airbnb is following suit. You too can to turn eager visitors into frequent fliers.
#4. Run Contests
Contests are a great way to make even the least followers active and following your social media page. Contests brings in a competitive spirit and also a flurry of activity as it creates a sense of urgency and excitement, which is what customers expect out of travel and social media.
Check out how City Discovery ran an Instagram contest that increased its Instagram followers:
Image Credit: City Discovery
In case you want to run an Instagram contest, here are some few checkpoints to bear in mind:
Keep the contest rules simple, easy to understand & doable. Like snap a picture. Post an unexplored destination. Write a travel quote, etc.
Set a unique and catchy hashtag for the contest. #bornwithwanderlust, #neverseemeagain, #loveforVenice, etc.
Give away your products or services as gifts. Serves the dual task of marketing your products and making your followers happy.
Have a regular pattern to contests, but strike a difference with specific themes
#5. Spread Travel Knowledge
The prime reason why most people shun away from travelling is fear of the unknown. They are concerned of personal safety and the feeling of how to get the most out of the trip.
Your social media blog or page can be a reliable source for such information. Here is how you can spread travel knowledge to nurture leads of people interested in travelling.
Facebook has Notes, Twitter has mini blogs and Insta allows adding long bios all of which can be used in a way similar to blogging, to publish long-form text content.
Free content materials
Printable travel guides to popular destinations. List of language translations for frequently used words and phrases. Local maps with pointers to landmarks, their timings, nearest train station/airport, entry fee and much more.
Photo stories or albums of unexplored destinations along with full-blown pointers to reach them. The young and restless millennials prefer travelling to unexplored destinations where the culture, food and terrain is new and unadulterated compared to existing popular destinations. Cash in on their growing demand with photo stories on unexplored destinations.
History & Trivia
Do you know? Historical facts and trivia about places are exciting to read and know before going on a trip. They can make a social media channel a go-to destination for users who want to know everything before they head out to the place. The constant engagement can nurture them as loyalists who ultimately turn into customers who book hotels and travel itineraries offered by your website.
Smartphones with powerful cameras, GoPros and portable cameras have all expanded our horizons. It is now possible to scuba dive and relay it live through Facebook and Instagram. Travelers have become storytellers who bring the world to living rooms with their travel videos.
Needless to say, the video has now become an integral component of marketing for travel brands. You can market pristine beaches, snow-capped mountains, torrential waters, diverse wildlife and much more in a vivid manner using videos.
These videos also enjoy a great viewership in social media. According to SocialMediaToday, people spend 3 times their social media time watching videos on Facebook. Videos also enjoy a 135% greater organic reach compared to photo posts.
#6. Attract with Promos & Offers
All the efforts of building user base and followers culminate in making them buy from you. Announcing promos and offers is the best tactic you can deploy to make customers buy from your website instantly.
To make things easier, Facebook and Instagram do come with CTAs for booking and buying directly from the stores which easily converts customers. They are not distracted or lost in the transit from your social media website to the website.
MakeMyTrip, one of the noted players in the online travel booking space, used Facebook lavishly to win customers. They announce offers, discounts and what not combined with imagery to provoke customers to book immediately.
Image Credit: Social Samosa
This sort of targeted shooting of marketing material helps sustain user interest all throughout. Customer engagement becomes a continuous affair than a single transaction with profit in mind.
#7. Retarget Customers with Ads
Had a recent conversation with a customer who enquired about your services? How about someone who keeps liking and commenting on your social media posts, but is yet to make the first booking? Is there a customer who comes makes a booking but skips in the last moment before paying?
Maybe they are not totally lost after all. Retarget them with ads to rekindle their interest and to win their bookings. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter ads help target such customers easily. It is also possible to measure the RoI on such ads through an inbuilt dashboard with detailed analytics.
In a Nutshell
Travel and social media marketing go hand in hand. They are like a match made in heaven which can be leveraged endlessly for business growth. Social media provides several avenues to create and publicize visual content related to travel and tourism. It is also an excellent platform to get noticed by individuals who have travel plans but are yet to put them in action.
This article discussed in detail the various social media tactics a travel based business can use to attract, nurture and win conversions. From getting local classifieds to going social with knowledge sharing, there is plenty that a business can do to maximize its virtual and real-world presence.