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The Urgent Need for Travel Brands to Master Social Media Influence

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Dame Irene Hays recently dropped a bombshell at a major conference: the travel industry is “frighteningly bad” at using social media to influence purchases. Crazy, right? Given how perfect travel content is for social media, it’s wild that industries like fashion, cosmetics, and even dog accessories are leaving travel brands in the dust. But hey, it’s never too late to start!

The Disconnect Between Potential and Performance

Hays’ insights highlight a massive gap between what social media can do for travel brands and what’s actually being done. With three-quarters of people preferring to book travel via social platforms, the demand for engaging and informal marketing is sky-high – enter the memes and the ‘day in the life’ content. Yet, many travel companies are stuck in the past with old-school tactics that don’t click with today’s savvy travellers.

Embracing the Fun Side of Social Media Influence

Travel brands need to get in tune with what their audience wants. Here are some effective strategies to help travel brands make the most of social media:

1. Ditch the Hard Sell

Travel lovers crave authentic, laid-back content. The hard sell is a thing of the past. Instead, focus on storytelling and sharing real-life experiences. This matches the shift from “Google it” to “TikTok it,” where users look for fun, digestible content that feels real and relatable.

  • Storytelling: Share travel stories highlighting emotions, adventures, and unique experiences. Use Instagram Stories or TikTok for short, engaging snippets.
  • Real-life Experiences: Encourage employees, content creators, and customers to share their own perspectives. Authenticity beats polished, commercial content every time.

2. Embrace User-Generated Content

Get your customers to share their travel experiences and make it easy for them. User-generated content (UGC) builds trust and showcases a range of voices and perspectives. Instead of solely looking on platforms like TripAdvisor for reviews, people now search on social media platforms like TikTok to see what restaurants, hotels, or types of holidays to go for. People want to see other people’s adventures and experiences. Think of all the ‘this is your sign to…’ videos – a perfect trend for the travel industry. This type of social media influence is critical in building a travel brand’s reputation and trust.

  • Hashtag Campaigns: Create branded hashtags to encourage travellers to share their adventures. This boosts visibility and gives you a library of content to reuse.
  • Contests and Giveaways: Run contests where followers share their travel photos or stories to win prizes. It’s a great way to get high-quality UGC and ramp up engagement.

3. It’s All About Content Creators 

Established Content Creators – whether micro or macro, bring credibility and personalised recommendations that hit home with specific groups. Partnering with creators who align with your brand values can help you tap into their loyal audiences and extend your reach naturally. Their social media influence can be a game-changer in reaching niche markets.

  • Micro-Influencers: Team up with micro-influencers who have tight-knit, engaged followings. Their authenticity makes their endorsements super effective.
  • Local Guides and Experts: Collaborate with local guides or experts to highlight the local culture, offering a unique perspective that more prominent brands might miss.

4. Invest in Authentic Visual Storytelling

Travel is all about visuals, making platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest perfect for showing off stunning destinations. While high-quality photos, engaging videos, and immersive stories can spark wanderlust and inspire bookings, authenticity is key. People have seen professional images over and over again; they crave something real and relatable.

  • Real-Life Photos and Videos: Instead of relying solely on polished visuals, use photos and videos taken with a smartphone. Capture spontaneous moments and genuine experiences on the go. Authenticity can resonate more deeply with audiences than picture-perfect shots. Planned and polished content doesn’t always sell the real story. 
  • Professional Photos and Videos: While authenticity is crucial, don’t disregard professional photos and videos altogether. Balance polished visuals with real-life content to capture the magic of destinations while maintaining authenticity.
  • Behind-the-Scenes Content: Share sneak peeks into how travel experiences are crafted, from planning to the actual journey. This adds transparency and excitement, showing the real effort behind the scenes and making your brand more relatable.

5. Create Interactive and Personalised Experiences

Interactive content like polls and quizzes boosts engagement and provides insights into customers’ needs. Personalisation can enhance the booking experience and drive conversions.

  • Interactive Stories: Use Instagram’s interactive features, such as Polls, Quizzes, and ‘Add Yours,’ to engage with your audience and gather direct feedback.
  • Personalised Recommendations: Use AI and machine learning to analyse user data and offer tailored travel suggestions. Personalised content can significantly improve the user experience and booking rates.

Making Travel Fun and Relatable with Memes and Trending Videos

Memes are the way to go! Have you seen Ryanair’s TikTok account? Very relatable and very entertaining.

It really does work. Here’s how:

1. Travel Memes

Engage your audience with humorous, relatable travel memes that are easily shareable.

  • Expectation vs. Reality: Highlight the humorous side of travel expectations versus reality. For example, a meme about expecting a peaceful beach only to find it crowded can be a hit.
  • Travel Struggles: Highlight everyday travel struggles, such as packing mishaps, jet lag, or language barriers. These relatable moments can create a sense of community. 

2. Trending Video Ideas

Put a travel twist on popular video trends to make your content stand out.

  • Challenges and Dares: Try trending challenges with a travel spin, like a “24-hour challenge” in a new city.
  • Behind-the-scenes: Share behind-the-scenes footage of travel content creation for authenticity.
  • Day in the Life: Create or use engaging “Day in the Life” videos of travellers exploring new destinations.

3. Humorous Travel Tips

Provide travel tips with a humorous twist, like “How to Sleep on a Plane Like a Pro.”

By incorporating memes and trending video ideas into your travel content, you can engage your audience and increase brand awareness through authentic, entertaining, and relatable content. This is yet another effective way to enhance your social media influence.

The Future of Travel Marketing

Marketing is changing fast, and travel brands need to keep up to stay relevant. Social media isn’t just for promotion anymore; it’s a powerhouse for product discovery and customer engagement. Direct bookings via social media are on the rise. Travel brands that embrace these trends and social media’s fun, visual, and diverse nature will be perfectly positioned to influence purchases and grow their brand. 

Struggling to create an impact on Social Media? Take our quiz, and we’ll send you a personalised report for your travel brand or visit our website to see how we could help your travel brand develop an impactful social media strategy.

Travel Social Media Quiz

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