The travel industry is a huge industry effected by social media outlets. While a consumer is thinking of booking travel, to booking a trip, while traveling, and after traveling consumers like to share their experiences, and ask questions to companies through social media. Around forty percent of travelers use social media to share experiences, but I feel that number will only continue to grow. I can’t recall the last time I booked any travel plans without checking social media sites first. Seventy percent of consumers say they trust other’s recommendations over any other form of advertising. This means that as a hotel brand or airline, you need to be on top of the social media game and make sure to respond and review traveler’s reviews.
Nowadays most consumers don’t even use Google to find certain hotels in an area, but use sites like TripAdvisor to find their next hotel. TripAdvisor might not exactly be “social media” but it is a social network that allows users to connect directly with their Facebook account and post their reviews to their social media account. Since the reviews consumers write can be posted onto their Facebook accounts (with their Facebook friends to see) the reviews are important.
There are many social media sites out there, but for traveling, Facebook is the biggest social media site out there. Facebook users reported that photos of their friends trip experiences influenced their decisions up to fifty-two percent. Consumers trust reviews from friends or family members more than any other form of advertising. When searching for a location in TripAdvisor, reviews from other Facebook friends, or even friends of friends come up first in the search results. Having an account on TripAdvisor to respond to the reviews promptly is very important.
Here are some thoughts and applications for social media from travel brands. Luis del Olmo, EVP and CMO of Melia Hotels International, says that the online reputation of each of Melia’s brands is a key success indicator. Their online reviews not only give them insights into our daily operations, they also directly influence their revenue and profitability.
During the summer of 2013 the Four Seasons Hotel New York location decided to do something a little different to attract a new demographic of the modern travelling family. Their specific focus was to try to increase weekend bookings at the hotel. The Four Seasons partnered with the company Shoutlet to do so. According to their website, they clam to be the leading global, enterprise-level social relationship platform who helps brands elevate their social channels to drive highly engaged customer relationships to result in a measurable business impact (Who We Are, 2014).
The hotel came up with a highly engaging and interactive 12 week campaign featuring “Maxine”, a lovable fuzzy plush toy. Each week Maxine traveled around New York City visiting a unique destination. Four Seasons Facebook fans guessed the location of each adventure, with a draw being held at the campaign’s close for a Four Seasons Gift card. The Four Seasons marketing team used Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and Vine to promote Maxine. When families visited the hotel they got a chance to interact with Maxine, through photos and personalized amenities created for each family (Olenski, 2014).
Of course hotels are not the only versions of travel industry that use social media in an innovative way. Southwest Airlines has mastered the art of social media. Southwest uses Twitter for promotions, alerts and precautions, and connecting with consumers. They have vowed to answer consumers within 24 hours of tweeting them. This to me, is just another reason why Southwest is awesome and successful.
I’ve included an infogram of how influential social media is on the travel industry:
Olenski, S. (2014, February 7). The Impact Of Social Media In The Travel Marketing Industry. Forbes. Retrieved February 9, 2014, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/steveolenski/2014/02/07/the-impact-of-social-media-in-the-travel-marketing-industry/