Few travel and tourism businesses are taking advantage of the business branding, growth, and lead-generation capabilities of social media.
Sure, some hotels, resorts, agencies, and tour operators dabble with social media. They start a Facebook account, sign up for Pinterest, perhaps send a few Tweets, and think about learning more about Google+ and then kind of forget about it. But venturing into social media is not the same as working at it.
As with all things, you reap what you sow. If you want to have the development potential social media offers, you have to work at building your online presence with at least Facebook and Twitter. Businesses across industries that use social media gain, so if you want to grow your travel, tourism, or hospitality business it is no longer an option to sit on the sidelines.
The thing with the travel and hospitality industry is that it is so well suited to social media. Isn’t travel and tourism really built around selling an experience? Enticing people to visit? Attracting them to new destinations?
Here are some tips to make social media work for travel and tourism:
- Build community – Create a page that is more than just an infomercial. You want people to trust the information you post and feel moved to share their own experiences with your business. Peer reviews are far more valuable than other forms of advertising, so you need to construct an environment that invites people to remember and discuss the best parts of their holiday. Posts should be informative, interesting, and entertaining. Reach out to former clients and invite them to like your page – perhaps even through a targeted campaign designed to get them talking.
- Interact with your community – Social media is not an online lecture. It is meant to be an interactive forum. While you should be sharing useful industry information and facts, your goal should be to engage in dialogue and stimulate discussion. It’s kind of like hosting a virtual party or event and getting people to come and have such a great experience they invite their friends and don’t ever want to leave. Too many businesses don’t realize this and use social media like a free commercial. If you aren’t asking and answering questions, you aren’t using social media to its maximum potential.
- Anticipate need – A great way to demonstrate that your business is knowledgeable and an industry leader is to provide the kind of information your potential clients search to find. Through your content posts you want to become the go-to source of useful information for your travel or tourism niche. Show them the best local restaurants, discuss the best tours and excursions, provide ideas for unique getaways, and offer local travel tips. Think broadly so that your content covers a diverse range of topics so that you appeal to a wide variety of prospects.
- Use analytics – Many of the social media platforms, for example Facebook with its weekly page insight updates, have useful tools for business pages. Take advantage of what each platform offers and use it to measure your success online.
- Be strategic – Develop a strategy to generate interest in what your travel or tourism business has to offer. Highlight specials or the packages you most hope to book. This is your opportunity to share the experience, pointing out all the reasons this is the best way to spend their travel dollars. Take note of when during the day or week you get the most responses and target those windows to share details about your deals. If people ask questions, comment, or message for more information be sure to answer and keep the conversation going.
- Sustain interest – Don’t give up on interacting with people who have been clients. Build on your success with them by giving opportunities for them to continue to have dialogue with you and other followers. You want your clients to share memorable moments, who or what made their trip spectacular, and what they would recommend to others or do next time themselves. Be creative because they might be inspired to return or give a glowing recommendation.
Ready to leverage social media to boost business? Our travel, tourism, and hospitality experts at Stir Tourism recommend at minimum you set up Facebook, Twitter, and a blog. Use Hootsuite to facilitate posting to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Ideally you should also create an online presence for your business with accounts on LinkedIn, Google+, Youtube, and Pinterest.
Contact Stir Tourism for a free estimate or a free 30-minute consultation on how we can manage all aspects of social media content for your travel or tourism business. Or take advantage of our free website and online presence analysis report.
We’d love to hear from any of you who work in travel, tourism, or hospitality. Which of these tips were the most helpful to you?