This post originally appeared on CMO.com as part of their August 2017 series on travel marketing.
Consumers are tethered to technology in most aspects of their lives, so it makes total sense that they also rely heavily on it as a way to navigate their travels.
Whether they are using TripAdvisor to find a great restaurant, Airbnb to locate lodging, Uber to get around, or Instagram to document a trip, consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices to curate their adventures. Companies willing to buy into this new consumer M.O. have great potential to increase customer engagement and satisfaction, all while creating new relevance for their brands.
They also should be paying attention to social media. Thirty-three percent of users who conducted research on social changed hotels based on what they found, and another 7% changed destinations entirely, according to an infographic produced by Internet Marketing Inc. Future travelers are paying attention to what is being posted, especially by those they trust. And the most effective way to reach those future travelers is by engaging with current ones.
According to the 2016 Topdeck Travel survey, 76% percent of respondents said they would choose a travel destination based on the recommendation of friends, and 36% would choose based on social media. These trends combine what we’ve known for a long time—that a referral is the best form of advertising. This is becoming a new reality, with consumers paying strong attention to the recommendations of their social networks. Organizations can jump on board with these consumer behaviors by tailoring their offerings to allow their guests to make posting to social channels a normal part of their visits.
Just think about the possibilities that can exist for a company in the travel space, particularly destinations. Considering the multitudes of traveling customers that are likely to pass through any particular resort or destination during the course of a year, the incremental effects are massive. One satisfied customer can reach hundreds of potential customers. Companies should strive to create “share-worthy” material for their transient visitors and even actively encourage them to post about their interactions with brands.
What might it look like if your beachside hotel had an “Instagram perch” for perfect photo ops, or a kayaking company gave a discount based on the number of “likes” your post about them received? These are just a couple of examples of how creative uses of social can be a win-win for travelers and companies. The traveler posts (and presumably enjoys doing so), and the company gets exposure to potential customers.
There are many examples of destinations that have used creative social marketing to entice consumers, but the opportunity still exists for more grassroots-style approaches. Whether it’s the beach bike rental shop or the luxury hotel, customers will gladly spread the word about the companies they enjoy. The nature of travel is such that customers are already in a more relaxed and joyous state, so destinations that value the opportunity to make these customers ambassadors of their brands are sure to see an upside.