Social media is often described as a disruptive industry and there are few businesses that won’t have felt the impact of its rise, particularly those involved in the travel and leisure sector.
As with any change to the ecosystem, those who can adapt and make use of the new opportunities will be the ones that go on to thrive. Whether you’re a new travel operator finding your feet or an established business with decades of experience and reputation built up, social media can be leveraged to help you generated new bookings and keep travellers returning the following year.
Here are three ways social media has shaken up the market and provided new opportunities for tour operators:
1. Sell an experience not a destination
Millennials - those who grew up with the internet and social media – now make up a big segment of the travel market and their numbers are growing. It has been shown that this age group in particular value experiences highly and are more likely to pay for an immersive experience, where they get to truly envelop themselves in a new culture, over pretty much anything else.
This is to be expected, they are after all the age group who has the world at their fingertips. Instead of just seeing photos of a destination in a magazine or hearing about it from friends or family, today’s would-be-travellers consume a rich array of alluring online media on their timelines, read travellers reviews and browse travel blogs.
As a travel operator it is your opportunity to sell the experience that your tour provides. Whether it’s the hustle and bustle of a modern city or the rich traditions of the old, the textual content, immersive imagery and videos of your tour will be effective if they show the unique experience waiting to be encountered.
2. Your reputation is invaluable
Word of mouth from family and friends used to play a big part when it came to deciding which travel operator to use. It still does, but today’s travellers have the ability to quickly and easily look up reviews and experiences of impartial strangers and even ask them questions.
As a business you already know the importance of reputation, but in the age of social media it is as important as ever to safe guard your reputation and showcase your traveller’s positive experience to the world.
Regularly reviewing ratings and what travellers are posting about you, good or bad, is important. It should shape your decision making and help you build a solid and revered reputation that will attract tomorrow’s clients.
Your positive online reviews and ratings should be showcased alongside your credentials to reassure visitors to your website you’re a company that can be trusted.
3. Be accessible and open
Like it or not, the internet, and social media in particular, has meant individuals and companies are now contactable 24/7. And, in the case of social media, your communication is often open to the public.
This makes swift, polite and helpful communication to those who have contacted you via public channels, such as on the Facebook or Twitter timelines, important. Allowing comments and queries to sit without reply can lead to negative views of you – if you’re slow to respond to that query maybe you’ll be the same for me if I have an urgent query if I’m travelling with you.
The openness of social media is also an opportunity. Use social media to publish stunning images and videos to the world for people to share and increase your reach. Create competitions that your followers will share with their connections so new people are introduced to your business. Leverage the huge data the social media platforms have about us by running focused and efficient marketing campaigns that target specific demographics and people with unique interests.
Social media provides opportunities to boost bookings that weren’t there a few years ago.
If you’d like assistance with social media, please get in touch.
The Travel Web Design Blog