‘Social networks are the second most influential source of online traffic for travel suppliers,’ according to research conducted by EyeforTravel. Half of those surveyed said that they have generated bookings direct from social media while 20% quoted social media as their most important marketing component.
Social media has never been more important for the travel, tourism and leisure industry. Below are some tips to help you succeed within a limited budget. It’s all about creativity and utilising the right platforms in the right way.
1. Pin it
Pinterest is great for selling travel according to Jillian Smith, director of tourism and leisure agency, ‘Turner Public Relations’. Think of Pinterest as an online brochure, showcasing your destination’s unique attractions, architecture, history and foods.
St. Bernard Lodge, a rural bed and breakfast in Northern California, provides a good template for other small tourism businesses. Pin boards not only display who they are and what they sell, but also exhibit surrounding nature, stunning wildlife and local places to visit.
Create boards that tell your story and add pins that reveal your business’ personality. What makes your hotel unique? Find it, define it and pin it.
2. Be Innovative
Tourism Ireland won the ‘Best Use of Social Media’ category at the 2011 Travolution awards by generating a simple Twitter campaign entitled, ‘My Irish 140‘. People with Irish blood and those who felt connected to the country were asked to Tweet about it using ‘#makesmeIrish’.
The entire competition was focused around the number 140. Successful tweeters won a 140 hour stay in Ireland, the contest started at 1.40am and lasted 140 hours. The clever campaign attracted an audience of 3.4 million in Great Britain alone.
You know your audience. Start a dialogue with them about something they care about. Competitions focused around fun and novel ideas work well. If the idea is clever enough, the prize need not be costly.
3. Go Mobile
When it comes to travel it makes sense to go mobile. According to a survey by market research company Lab42, almost a third of social media consumers use mobile apps to locate bargain flights and hotel bookings, 80% use smartphones while abroad and 15% have downloaded a travel app for a specific trip. Travel is mobile. Your website should be too. Ensure you move with the customers.
The free travel guide ‘Aruba App’ offers tourists useful suggestions for visiting the area. Suggestions include where to eat and stay, places to visit, activities to engage in and how to travel. ‘Tips from locals’, augmented reality functionality and useful lists such as key telephone numbers are also integrated within the app.
However, not every business needs or can afford an expensive app. A mobile version of your own website can do wonders too. InterContinental Hotel Group saw revenue for its mobile site increase 90% year on year.
4. Use Foursqaure
AJ Bombers, a small burger restaurant in Milwaukee, succeeded in implementing a successful Foursquare campaign despite a bad business location and battered economy. Owner, Joe Sorge attracted 161 Foursquare members by promoting the coveted Foursquare Swarm Badge. The badge is awarded to those who check in to a Foursquare location where another 50 users are located at that time. After 6 months of social media use the restaurant experienced 60 to 80% revenue growth.
Use Foursquare to encourage tourism, entice customers and build relationships.
5. Make it Micro
The Hertz Corporation’s 2011 ‘Gas and Brake’ campaign won the ‘Best Use of a Social Media Platform’ in the car rental category at the Travel and Leisure Social Media Tourism Awards. Hertz created an interactive microsite featuring a quiz that determined the travel personality of its visitors. Through answering the quiz people discovered whether they were the ‘Gas’ (adventurous and exciting) or the ‘Brake’ (conservative and a planner).
Microsites are best suited for short term promotion and are therefore ideal for social media campaigns and competitions. Travelshake.com, a social media platform for the travel, tourism and hospitality industry, creates microsites and Facebook apps for busineses.