Travel enhances who we are as individuals. It’s one of the few ways we can escape our daily routine and enter a totally foreign environment. It’s a way to rebuild our sense of self and redefine who we choose to be.
Logically, social media is a natural fit for the travel industry as it’s a medium that incorporates all media and is as close to the real thing as you can get.
Over the last five years the travel industry has embraced and incorporated social media into their marketing strategy. Not just because it is a fast and efficient way to promote offers and products but because it can create a dialog with customers.
What makes social media the ultimate platform for travel? Two primary objectives for any travel or tourism organization is to engage customers and to create loyally or familiarity with travelers while nurturing relationships they’ve established.
Here are some ways social media achieves this in the travel industry.
Great content & Vibrant Networks
Travel is expensive and typically a luxury item, it requires time and a break in routine. For these reasons there is a high level of resistance in converting leads to sales as well as a higher level scrutiny of trips and services.
Social media allows travelers to feel confident about their purchase by providing pictures, videos, stories and information that you couldn’t get from a brochure or print ad.
Check out the Royal Caribbean International website a great example of how they tie in direct marketing into their reach social media strategy. Including Videos as well as multiple social net works to stay connected.
Allowing users to express their likes and dislikes bout the Royal Caribbean product.
Ratings and Reviews Keeping ’em happy
For hotels, B&Bs, resorts and just about anyone else involved in the travel industry, it is all about reviews and what your customers are saying about you.
People who are thinking of traveling want advice and they are looking for the most trustworthy information possible. Reviews and forums are a great resource to travelers and an easy way to decide if a particular hotel or vacation is right for you.
Trip Adviser is pretty much the be all end all in the travel industry when it comes to reviews.
Covering just about everything, trips are rated from excellent to terrible with supporting reviews from thousands of people.
The rating system gives travelers a sense of quality while the reviews are chock full of helpful hints and interesting stories.
They also rate the users, rewarding people for insightful and detailed reviews.
This encourages higher quality content and allows for participants to not only document the trips they have been on but to feel like they are helping others at the same time.
Enlist your customers sell your product. U.G.C!
People enjoy documenting their trips by taking video, writing blogs, and sharing photos sharing with friends and family the experiences and adventures they have been on.
This translates to user generated content and is a huge benefit to travel companies as people relate their stores and experiences giving travel a personal touch. More and more companies are learning to integrate this content on their own hosed sites or in social networks like twitter and Facebook.
Check out this travelers Blog submission to My company’s Facebook page at Grand Circle Travel.
A huge advantage of using social media is companies can now react and respond to their customers in real time. Customers often express issues or are looking for information regarding their trips in forums. This provides a great environment for fellow travelers and business representatives to respond and maintain positive relationships. Often efficiently solving issues while letting customers know that they are listing. In fact this can reduce support costs as in many situations fellow travelers will step in to resolve issues or answer questions.
These are just some examples of how Social Media is being used by the travel industry today. This medium provides so much more than just an opportunity to market new products. Social media allows the travel industry to connect with and better understand their customers creating a mutually beneficial relationship.