It’s easy to dismiss social media as a recreational tool with questionable business benefit. Your customers are uploading photos of their latest holiday for their friends to see and isn’t that nice. But can social media really affect your tourism business’ bottom line? The simple answer is; social media within the tourism industry impacts on your customer acquisition, customer retention and overall brand reputation. Approximately one-fifth of leisure travellers’ worldwide turn to social media platforms for inspiration within different categories of their travel planning (Forbes 2014).
Managing your online brand reputation
For the travel and tourism industry, viral marketing is a key business tool. ‘Viral marketing’ is the trendy term for word of mouth and what social media is all about. For an industry where customers have such an emotional connection to their purchases, word of mouth and personal endorsement of a product/service/experience, can mean the difference between a sell or not.
Aim to have customers who are brand advocates. They create and share their own content about your brand with little or no monitoring from you.
The customer journey
Social media content can assist all areas of your customer’s buying journey.
- Pre-purchase: Your customers spend a lot of time researching their purchase before you even know they exist. Think about where they are looking for information on their next holiday, flight, or experience. They will be utilising their own networks, like Facebook and Twitter, but also looking farther afield for endorsements. Review websites can be key to making that customer decision. Make sure you are responding to comments, providing information and managing your brand through these channels. There are the large sites like Trip Advisor and Booking.com for example where customer reviews have a large role. However, if you are part of a niche market, there are relevant sites also. Consider who/where is respected within your target demographic.
- Part-purchase: Once the purchase, or part of the purchase has been made, social media is used for more detailed trip planning. Customers who have decided on a destination and travel company, for instance, maybe looking for attractions and eateries. Make sure your business is linked online with other relevant businesses so you are easy to find.
- Product Use: While customers are using your product/service, make it easy for them to include your business when they use social media. Have details about your location for when they check-in on Facebook, and make your business easy to tag on other networks.
- Post-travel: Customers are enthusiastic about your brand, emotionally involved and this is the best time to encourage them to endorse you. Ask them directly when they leave if they will give you a positive review, connect with them online, and thank them for any content they post about your business. This makes a repeat purchase far more likely, especially if you have a loyalty discount to seal the deal.
What is good Content?
Here are some quick tips for producing social media content:
- Wherever you are posting, make sure you use photos and videos to highlight your message.
- Keep things simple, memorable, useful and fun. Whether travelling for business or pleasure, people want to have a good time. If they enjoy your online content, they believe they will also enjoy the service you provide.
- Your industry is seasonal, so your messages need to be timely and relevant. Give updates about what is happening in your business right now, but also think about when buyers will make their purchase decision.
The travel and tourism industry is fast-paced, highly competitive and very active online. Without a good online presence, your business could get lost in all the noise.
SocialB provide social media training for the travel and tourism sector. If you want to know more about how to increase your brand reputation and profitability through social media, please chat to our team today.