Usage of social media in tourism
We all know that, in general, people are fairly active on social media. But how do people use social media regarding travel? In this article we’ll start of with a few statistics, after which we describe how travellers use social media before, during and after travel. We’ll close off with a few practical tips on how to interact with travellers on social media.
Step 1: Before travel
A large group of travellers use social media as a source of inspiration for their own trips. In particular Instagram and Facebook are great sources of numerous travel photos by friends, travel bloggers and influencers. These posts influence the traveller where they will travel next.
More than 50% of people ‘like’ pages that are related to the trips they are planning. As a tour operator it’s important to be visible to this group of people. You can do this by sharing visual imagery on a regular basis. Show them different aspects of what makes your trips unique like:
- Tours and excursions
Step 2: During travel
Travellers use their smartphones often during their trip. They are active on social media to be inspired what to do on their destination. Experiences are shared in the form of photos or videos of surroundings, but also reviews of activities and restaurants.
Invite your customers to share their travel experiences while they are travelling. People are most likely to share freshly taken photos or videos on social media. These posts can easily become an inspiration to your customers family and friends. Research shows that people are most influenced by consumer-created content (opposed to professional brand content and influencer content).
Step 3: After travel
After returning from their trip, travellers are very active on social media. They share their experiences of the last days and reshare complete photo albums. This results in a large number of messages on the various social media accounts on which your target group is active. Also, people will take the time to review accommodations, activities or restaurants.
Again, make sure you bring to their attention that you’d love for them to share their experiences, photos and videos.
Tips to interact with travellers
In case of social media use, interaction is key. Use the following practical tips to interact with your target group:
Choose your social media platforms wisely
First of all, find out on which platforms your ideal target group is active. It’s better to be active on a few select platforms than inactive on a large number of platforms. Choose the platforms you think your target group is (most) active on and where you can regularly post good and relevant content. Most common platforms that are used in the tourism industry are:
Be available for communication and support
Social media makes you easily approachable. More and more travellers use social media as a way to communicate directly with tour operators. That’s why you should be available to answer their questions. Be friendly and helpful and try to respond quickly.
Invite travellers to share and tag your business
We’ve said it before and we’ll do it again: invite your customers to share their experiences. Travellers are excited to share their trips on social media and you can be part of it by simply asking for it. Ask them to tag your business on social media and if they give you permission to share their content on your business’ page.
Respond to travellers’ posts and tags
Your customers love for you to take in interest in them while they are travelling. If they tag your business in a social media post, take the time to reply and share in their enthusiasm. This is a great way to increase customer loyalty. Travellers buy from companies they value and trust, and it would be great if they buy from you more than once.
Ask for reviews and respond to them
Allow yourself to improve your business by asking your customers for reviews. It’s your job to do your best to provide a great travel experience. If you did well, this is good to know and can be used for marketing purposes. Travellers often let themselves be influenced by review sites to make decisions.
In case you are confronted with a negative review, deal with this politely. Bad things can happen on a trip; however, a successful tour operator tries to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Communicate what you are doing to fix a problem, people will appreciate honesty and transparency.
Let your voice be heard
Having a solid presence on social media, as a tour operator, can help you a long way. It’s not only about being available when they need you, but it’s about inspiring them before, during and after their trip. Besides using it as a direct way to connect with travellers, it’s also a great way to promote the content you create as part of your content marketing strategy.