“Happiness is only real when shared” (Christopher McCandless - Into the wild). Travelling is all about enjoying: an unforgettable experience, an imposing landscaping, a dinner with a friend that you haven`t seen for years or simply the quietness of a lake. And all these moments become even more significant if you have people to share them with. Of course when our friend Christopher (AKA Alexander Supertrump) wrote this phrase down, social media wasn't even an idea, but sharing was (and still is) what turns joy into real happiness. Share a picture, a video, a moment, a smile or even a tear. Share with those you love or with those you don’t even know. More than 20 years later, people have many channels to do it, and brands have the perfect opportunity to leverage and capitalize on all those feelings.
On a previous post we explained how non-travelling & hospitality brands can engage with their audiences. In this opportunity we would like to dive deeper into how hospitality and travelling companies can connect with their public on social media.
Brands should inspire people who have the travel bug sleeping.
The travellers’ journey starts even before they decide to travel. 52% of facebook users said friends’ photos inspired their travel plans (Adweek). Social Media is not only one of the most powerful sources of inspiration, but also has become a crucial planning tool. According to a Deloite research “Digital channels ranked behind only “friends and family” and “word of mouth” as sources for travel ideas. About one-third said they started daydreaming about a new holiday while using a social site”
When a person starts planning his vacations, he is just at the first stage of the process. He will navigate travelling websites, social media accounts, ask friends and daydream about where to go.
“There are 750 million travel pins on Pinterest,” Ben Silbermann - Pinterest CEO
Here is where your brand has a great opportunity to turn that inspiration into decision. And other people's opinions and experiences are one of the most effective decision drivers. Even if you have a small hostel near the beach, or you provide tours around the city, showcasing how your clients enjoyed the experience with your brand is a great way to turn daydreamers into customers.
User generated content is one of the most authentic and trustworthy kind of advertising a brand can have, and your happy customers are creating it, even more so if you fuel this with engaging participation mechanics. For example, during your tours or at your hostel you can promote your brand’s official hashtag, invite people to tweet, post or share their experience. From contests to showcasing their pictures in your social wall, there are many mechanics you can promote to make your audience participate.
Never underestimate the power of a picture. It can make a person say “that’s where I would like to go” or “That it’s exactly what I want to do”, and if your brand is the one that triggers that comment, you will have big chances to be at their top of mind when making the final decision.
Build a strong social presence
Now that those undecided people have made up their mind and decided where to go, they will start with a more focused research. How am I going to get there? Where am I going to stay? Which tours am I going to take? There are many places where they can find answers to those questions. Probably one of the most popular ones is TripAdvisor. Just to show some numbers that reflects how important this platform is for travelers:
- 350 million reviews and opinions from travelers around the world,
- More than 60 million candid traveler photos.
- More than 230 new contributions are posted every minute
You have to make sure to have presence in those places where people meet to comment and share travelling experiences.
Educate your audience about the different destinations you promote. Talk about their culture, idiosyncrasy, food, habits and best things to do there. That will help them during the research process and will place you as an expert in the subject.
Don’t forget to highlight your competitive services and promote special offers. In many opportunities trips or vacation breaks are decided just by one tempting offer.
Social customer care
Before hiring any service or booking any hotel, people will have questions, and social media has become the go-to place for people to ask them. Whether you are a big hotel chain, an airline, or a small inn, you should know that people will contact you via social channels and you must provide a timely response. Having a trained social customer care department might be what tips the scales in your favor.
Social media Ads are a great way to increase your social presence. A well planned and executed social campaign can not only increase visibility but also drive sales. But what if these ads are based on UGC? This will increase your proposal authenticity with the most powerful endorsement you could have: Your happy clients.
During the travel
The travel begins the exact moment you start planning it, but probably one of the peaks of happiness occurs just before departing.
Brands have an unbeatable opportunity here to capitalize on that excitement and inspire potential customer that are still on the previous stage of the travelling process.
Your social customer care doesn’t end once people hires your services. During the trip many of them might have questions, be facing some troubles or need from your immediate assistance. There are several alternatives you could explore to make the customer care process more agile and efficient.
With autoresponse agents you can lower your customer support costs by automating responses to simple questions and user interactions, increasing the response speed for your followers while keeping your operational costs at bay.
Build a real-time window for people that are about to travel. Posting pictures of how people enjoyed their stay at your hostel is a very good way to build trust. But surfacing the best real-time UGC content of people actually enjoying the experience, puts your brand in an even better position. Just imagine a potential customer looking for some trip options and he stumbles upon your site, full of pictures and videos of people like him having fun in that precise moment. That content speaks louder than any other kind of content you could create. This is why you should build participation mechanics that boosts your earned media. UGC is your most powerful asset, specially if you know how to leverage it with amplification platforms. A simple CTA just like “share your joyful picture using #yourhotel and win something special” can go a long way.
Active listening and actionable analytics will help you find who your engaged fans are, separate ambassadors (influencers) from regulars from detractors, and also optimize your marketing spend for the current and future campaigns aimed to this specific audience.
Sometimes not all of your customers are completely happy. They could be having troubles with your products and they are talking about that in Social Media. Listen and try to solve their problems proactively before they escalate
After the travel
The travel might be over, but your audience is probably still on vacations mode. They will share pictures and make a recap about the experience they’ve just lived. Before they return to their daily routine and leave the travel behind, you should capitalize on that excitement remainder. Those pictures will inspire even more travellers. Keep encouraging your loyal customers to share them mentioning your brand.
Every step you take requires analytics. Ads, posts, tweets and overall analysis of your campaigns’ performance need to be measured. But not everything is about ROI, it’s also about how you managed to build and nurture the relationship with your customers. A share, a like, a post or a review can give you an insight about how you are performing in terms of engagement and reliability. Social Analytics platforms can help you understand those KPIs. Learn from your audience, understand their behaviour, correct your mistakes and engage again.