Every single industry has had to change the way they interact with consumers as the internet, and namely, social media, has become a prevalent form of research and communication. This rings especially true for the travel industry, where Facebook has become the main social network for travel deal sharing, brand interaction, recommendations, trip inspirations and more. If you are in the travel industry, or in marketing for the travel industry, you realize by now that the way to interact with your customers and how they interact with your brand has rapidly changed more than most businesses out there. We’ve gathered a few examples in this post that should provide insights into consumer behavior and show you how to take advantage of the ever-changing social media environment in today’s marketing world.
In the past: Typically when you get home from vacation, you call your friends and family and tell what a wonderful time you had. You share your experiences, stories and explain to them that they “have to take a trip there someday.”
Now: You update your Facebook during or immediately after your trip, bragging to all of your friends what an amazing time you had. Your neighbor from 3rd grade that you normally would never talk to sees your post, and starts looking for deals to travel where you were online. To sum it up, word of mouth advertising has been amplified. People no longer tell a few friends, they tell a few hundred simply through the reach on social media. On the consumer side, this is great! You find out about new places to go, and hear about friends’ positive experiences on places you’re planning to go. On the business side, this is an obvious plus as well since it is free advertising and comes from a trusted source when friends share with other friends.
In the past: Unsatisfied after a trip, you would write a letter or call the company directly to make a complaint.
Now: You update your Facebook status during or after your trip, as well as writing on the brand page’s wall for even more eyes to see. This is why word of mouth advertising is a double edged sword. When negative feedback is shouted out to the world via social media, it can reach an exponential amount of people. On the consumer side, we should always pay attention to our friends opinions and talk to them before we visit that same place. On the business side, this is something brand pages need to pay attention to and always have a plan of action to respond before the situation gets out of hand.
In the past: Ask your local travel agent, subscribe to mailers or email lists.
Now: Check out the brand’s page you want the deal from, learn about new deals from promoted posts or sidebar ads, or simply follow brand pages that center around offering travel deals.
In the past: Print out or email your photos to share with your family and close friends or sit down and have a picture viewing party or slide show.
Now: You upload your photos to Facebook during or after your trip, sharing them with virtually your entire network. This means your neighbor from grade school who you haven’t seen in years has access and may be inspired to travel there as well!
In the past: You sent your mom a postcard.
Now: You check in, sometimes even with photos or videos, alerting your network exactly where you are, who you’re with and how much fun you’re having. This often gives people a chance to ask you questions about the location you’re at, or just sit back and wish they were there too.
In the past: Call the hotel, airline, etc and ask the concierge.
Now: Check out photo albums on the page, friend’s photos, and ask questions directly on their wall at your convenience. The best part about this option is you will most likely not only receive a response from the page, but opinions from other fans of the page as well.
Opinions from Locals
In the past: Call a friend who lives in the area, if you’re lucky to have one. Or more likely than not, do your research and hope for the best.
Now: Use graph search to find friends who live in or who have traveled to the area. Get in touch with them and ask away! Nothing is better than the opinion of a local that you know and trust.
Studying these patterns and knowing what motivates people to check-in, give positive feedback and interact more with your brand are becomingly increasingly important, and companies need to take note! It is vital to stay up to date with the changing behaviors and platforms with which consumers are engaging with your brand, so heed the examples shown here and keep an eye out for how you can take advantage of the new shift towards organic content marketing on social media.