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By Olivia SwainSep 6
Travel is one of the many industries in which the modernisation of communication and online marketing has added a new dimension.
The web has become invaluable for holiday seekers but, inevitably, that has been at the cost of traditional travel agents.
Almost 200 shut down in May and even Thomas Cook, one of the UK’s longest established agencies, was forced to cut 2,500 jobs.
Just as the transition from agency to web search has changed how we book holidays, there too has been a shift in how we choose where to stay.
Research has shown that search volumes for terms like “hotels in [city]” are down 70%, with people turning to comparison sites like Trip Adviser and Expedia. Similarly, social media has become markedly more important.
At Destinology we started out exclusively online, so finding the best ways to use social media was quickly engrained into our ethos.
A recent study by the World Travel and Tourism Council saw that ¾ of us post photos of our holidays on social media; with just over half saying their friends’ photos influenced their decisions on where to go.
Furthermore, 55% of people liked something on social media which was specifically relevant to their holiday.
With social media now factored into the decision making process, travel companies should focus on the medium – not only as a way of increasing exposure but directly translating it into revenue.
Airbnb promotes one of their many customer focused interactions.
Using a suitable tone of voice is hugely important for social media. The same, formal rules of other business arenas no longer apply – as Emma Morris, our Marketing Executive explains:
“In terms of how we interact, social media allows us to be more informal with our customers and engage with them in a friendly, casual way.”
Our CEO, Dominic Speakman continues:
“Forget brochure speak. The travel industry can be very glossy, but this has no place on social media. Be approachable; people like to know that they’re engaging with a person behind the corporate image.”
Competitions have become a big part of how travel companies use social media. They range from the everyday call to submit photos (like the Thomas Cook example, below) to exciting prize-based challenges.
Thomas Cook invites users to submit photos.
Competitions have worked well on social media too – the first competition we ran on Facebook was a prize to the Maldives where entrants had to correctly guess the winning resort following a series of clues – people loved the mystery and excitement of having to work out which resort to clues related to.
Engaging through social media isn’t just about raising awareness though. At Destinology, we have garnered actual sales through the medium. We have seen enquiries on social media that have converted into big holiday bookings, which contributes as to why we value social media so much.
Images are important to social media interaction, and it’s not just company images that influence people’s decisions.
This is highlighted by the much quoted statistic that the click-through rate on posts with images in is 53% higher. This is definitely something travel companies have taken advantage of.
If you follow any on Twitter you’ll be familiar with such evocative and exotic destination images.
Taking an immediate example, if we look at two given posts by the company Expedia, we can see the difference in interaction between two very similar posts; one with an image and one without:
Two tweets by Expedia, with differing levels of interaction. Spot which one does best…
One medium perhaps neglected by many travel businesses is Google+.
We’re in over 1,000,000 circles on the site making it one of the most followed in the UK. There has been a lot of interest in Google+ lately and we believe it has the potential to be the biggest and most popular social media network.
Post from Destinology’s Google+ account
It’s not just company images that affect people’s decisions. A study by the World Travel and Tourism Council showed that 52% of Facebook users said their friends’ photos influenced their holiday choices!
Nowadays there’s no excuse for those in the travel industry to not engage with the public over social media. You have an opportunity to showcase new deals, offer competitions and display fantastic imagery that could influence a consumer.
The days of flicking through travel brochures have passed, people expect immediate and engaging content and the industry must now use social media as a major part of their strategy.