Over the past few years, the web and social media have brought dramatic changes to how people decide on where to go and what to do when on holiday. Businesses who have taken note of this trend are reaping the rewards.
Millennials, in particular, are known for valuing experiences, rather than buying goods – and the core component of travel is an experience. In a recent report on global megatrends by the World Travel and Tourism Council, they emphasized that online and offline experiences were becoming more and more integrated. They also pointed out that the younger generations rely more on personal networks, which offer authenticity, than on branded advertising.
Travellers’ choices of destinations are now inspired by the posts on social media by their friends and influencers. In a recent US study, 87% of Millennials indicated that they used Facebook for travel inspiration.
Once the destination is decided on, and even while travelling, tourists have instant access on the web to the most recent information to plan every part of their trip – travel, accommodation, food and drink, attractions and events. They are also increasingly taking care of their own bookings online.
Guidebooks might already be out of date once in print and contain carefully worded copy and staged photographs. On the other hand, people find real-time photos, comments, and reviews by their peers on social media more believable.
Then, while on the road, travellers share their adventures visually on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – to a far larger audience than the few friends who got postcards or sat through travel slide shows in the past. In the US, 74% of travellers reported that they used social media while on holiday and 40% of millennials even considered how instagramable a location was while planning their holiday.
If you’re in the tourism industry you can’t afford to ignore your social media presence and going beyond ordinary advertisements. Feature customers enjoying activities and even change some décor to create good backgrounds for Instagram. Inspire your customers to use your hashtag with their photos and to post reviews. You can even plan campaigns and competitions to increase your social media footprint – this is free and authentic marketing.
Build your brand and personal connections by liking and commenting on your customer’s posts. Thank past clients for good reviews and respond to negative reviews – after you’ve cooled down. Your comments on negative reviews should show a willingness to engage and to improve customer service, thereby gaining a chance of earning the respect of other potential customers.
If you’re in the tourism industry you cannot ignore the potential of social media – you should be where your potential customers spend their time.