Social media have a huge impact on all walks of our lives. Tourism industry is no exception. We often rely on social networks to learn about new travel destinations and plan our trips. We share online our travel experiences and special moments, our opinions about hotels, restaurants, airlines or car rental services. This also influences our peers’ decisions about their future trips.
Indeed, social media play a big role in tourism, especially in decision-making, marketing campaigns’ creation and communication with customers. Also, tourism depends to a high extend on the verbal message – opinions, recommendations and comments on social platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter enable customers to share suggestions and tips.
Majority of customers admit that they trust earned media that include recommendations from acquaintances, friends and family, rather than advertising. Besides, customers are prone to like photo posts on Facebook and find inspiration for their holidays and travel plans. Even when not fully aware of it, our “likes”, comments and conversations may affect our travel decision making.
One cannot deny that social media platforms are a powerful tool and their influence on tourism will grow. Not accepting and adopting to their ever-growing impact on tourism industry, but using only old-fashioned marketing methods will eventually have a negative influence on one’s business.
Tourism experts should give ear to the five main social media trends identified by The Dunloe Hotel. These are: online reputation management, social media as a customer service channel, inbound marketing, search engine optimisation and mobile applications.
1. Online reputation management.
ORM refers to managing search results for brand queries and negative reviews on social media. With the advance of social media platforms, the power has shifted from businesses to customers, which has made reputation management difficult for the companies. A diverse nature of comments complicates the issue of damage control. A major step in online media reputation management is knowing what people say online about your brand, company or services.
2. Social media as a customer service channel.
People use social media for sharing their experiences, posing questions and getting instant responses before, during and after they travel. Social customer service is becoming a new and critical channel to drive positive reaction and satisfaction. Social media allow tourism companies to display customer service while listening and engaging with what customers are saying.
3. Inbound marketing is attracting travellers.
In digital world, the key marketing point is that customers can find you. For this you will need to develop a compelling content strategy that would buck up and help users share reviews, comments, stories and photos easier. You can achieve this through blog posts, podcasts, videos, e-newsletters or other forms of content marketing. Of course, strive to create your own original content that would keep existing customers and attract new ones.
4. SEO is a powerful tool.
It's also a critical strategy for businesses wanting to grow their companies and services. One of the mistakes travel marketers make is that they optimise their site for search engines and not for people. Give travellers information they are searching for at every stage of the travel planning, instead of getting attention of a search engine. Search engines regularly update their algorithms to show more genuine results. For example, Google gives priority to sites with innovative, high-quality content, attractive design, relevant inbound links and a strong social media presence. Important to focus on a bigger picture and try to optimise your travel site to get the maximum targeted traffic.
5. Mobile apps – embrace the opportunity.
Marketing experts have realised that to give customers a full mobile experience, they need to combine applications and sites. They also say that businesses relying on local traffic need mobile-compatible sites. For example, website design frameworks such as Bootstrap and Drupal allow web pages’ creation that adjust to keep a high-quality user experience, no matter if customers view a page from desktop, tablet or mobile. Since you want to offer your customers the best experience, create a useful and loyal application that is convenient, user-friendly and personalised.
Social media have influenced and changed practices in tourism. With social media, tourism industry can gain notable advantages. And the major advice for tourism professionals is to use social media to get customers’ opinions and based on these improve their products or services.
Article written by Liudmila Kazak,
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