Ever driven up to a house and gotten the sense that the owners couldn’t care less about keeping it presentable?
When it comes to tourism, social media can be considered the virtual equivalent of your front yard. If you haven’t cut the lawn in a year and have left a bunch of garbage out front, you’re not exactly going to entice guests to come in for tea.
In how you care about your business and aim for it to be welcoming to guests, people’s initial interaction with your social media channels will determine whether to explore further. Welcome potential customers into your tourism business with a solid first impression.
When’s the last time someone asked for your business card? Phone number? Now, how about your Instagram handle?
The travel industry’s presence on mobile has exploded compared to where it was even a few years ago. Social media is paving the way for people from different corners of the world to plan their trips and share their experiences abroad.
Regardless of where you are in the world, social media has an impact on tourism, which is why you should include it in your digital marketing strategy.
The importance of social media in the tourism industry
Social media channels are tools designed to help you own your brand and share interesting information about your company. Travel social media marketing has drastically altered the landscape, offering sneak peeks to different corners of the world while inspiring people to travel.
More people are using platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Youtube as search engines to decide where and when to venture to next. Geographic and trending hashtags on Instagram make it easy for social media users to hone in on what they’re looking for.
Using these wisely will encourage and make it easy for people to find your company within seconds. From there, it’s a matter of sharing content they will be intrigued by to keep users engaged.
Despite the restrictions that vary between countries, guests are planning trips in 2021 even before international travel is widely available again. This speaks to the importance of activity providers and tour operators maintaining an active presence on social platforms.
Signalling that you’re open for business, you care about your customers and you’re welcome to guests is all made easier with an active presence on social media. Choose to be intentional about how you invest time online, taking 20 minutes a day to check in, respond to comments and share helpful insight within your industry. With more travelers looking to align booking choices with their values, social media gives you the opportunity to identify what matters to you.
As an expert in the tourism industry, your story is yours to tell. With social media, you’re able to connect with your audience faster and more direct than ever. Be intentional about finding out what they’re searching for and make it your purpose to post visually stimulating content with helpful information. In doing so, you’ll give followers a sense of the type of experience you set out to provide.
Consider the booking journey
Social media can influence decision-making throughout the trip planning process. Traveling is exciting and there are so many unknowns when guests first start evaluating their options! Focus on creating ways to answer questions and plant ideas as people are just starting to consider their options.
People are drawn in by beautiful photos. By using captivating, real-life images paired with personality-infused captions, you’ll intruigue your audience. Consider addressing common questions and sharing helpful tips as part of creating a happy guest experience.
Post a ‘top 5 tips’ list along with a photo showing off what the view is like once a guest arrives on site. Structure your social media posting schedule to be consistent so that you maintain a regular connection with your followers.
Here are some points along the booking journey to engage with your followers on social media:
Maybe your followers are getting lost in their browser dashboard photo or googling ‘tropical vacations’. Meet them where they are at with some wanderlust-inducing visuals that allow them to transport themselves there emotionally.
If there are secretive locations or activities only those ‘in the know’ get to enjoy, tease what makes them worth exploring. Your efforts on social media should highlight what makes you stand out from the rest.
Known favourably as keeping 17-tabs open ‘just in case’, the planning phase of the booking journey is all about ideas. It’s easy for people to research travel ideas using location and activity-specific hashtags on social media.
You can use social media to offer tips and ideas to inspire and help to streamline their trip planning. Consider sharing sneak peeks of tours-in-action, cozy-looking accommodations and remarkable sights to set the wheels in motion for people exploring your business.
Why not give them a reason to keep coming back to your social media channel for trip-planning inspiration?
This is where the commitment happens as a result of having easy accessibility to the ‘book now’ button. As a tour operator, your goal needs to be to make the booking process streamlined, answering questions along the way.
Once a guest decides to book, your role is to guide them through the process, reducing friction as much as possible. Ensure key information is clearly communicated and the necessary intel is right there.
Make pricing buttons easy to find and let them know if they can book directly within the social media channel or provide a re-direct right to your website.
This segment of the booking journey is the real deal. The goal should be to design an enjoyable booking experience from beginning to end. Experience comes down to every single interaction a guest has with your brand.
Imagine being halfway across the world, attempting to book a kayaking tour without knowing where the best spots are to explore. Put yourself in the guest’s position and see what kind of questions come to mind. Then, build your posts with the customer experience front of mind.
You may have a way of eloquently describing the activities you offer on your website, but does this match how your audience searches for the tours, activities, or information you offer? Tease new activities, adventures and tours on your social feed with the intent of igniting an emotional response for your viewer.
Be sure to address questions like:
- Is your business kid-friendly?
- Can I bring my dog?
- How long can I expect to be on tour?
- Where are the nearest facilities?
- What are your COVID-19 safety protocols?
- When are tours/activities available?
- What should I bring to this experience?
This leg of the customer experience takes place before, during and after a guest interacts with your travel business. It might look like publishing a short video of the fun move your guide showed them they could do while on a zipline or a photo of a camouflaged creature in the back 40 while on a mountaineering trek.
A critical element of sharing on social media is making use of feedback you receive. People widely use social media to highlight firsthand accounts of interactions with brands – both the good and the bad.
Plus, positive reviews can inspire future customers to book with you, especially if they happen to be considering booking with a competitor. Your goal is to foster an atmosphere of trust that you can be relied upon to meet, and more importantly, exceed their expectations.
The role of social media in tourism marketing
Social Media is the virtual equivalent of sitting around a campfire and sharing stories – acting as a hub for sharing photos, meant to inspire others to experience the same thing for themselves.
As a snapshot or highlight reel of best moments, social media is a powerful marketing tool for tour and activity operators. A well-curated social channel can take care of your advertising needs, customer service and engagement strategy.
As a tour operator, time and energy are in limited supply. Focus on what you feel is key for your ideal guest and what information will be most helpful. ou can share firsthand recommendations of fun things to do, ways to explore and tours to participate in, along with your personal experiences as an authority in the tourism industry.
When thinking of what to post on social media as a tourism company, try infusing personality and practicality in your content. For instance, if you are returning from a guiding weekend, Facebook can act like a travel journal complete with personal accounts, photos and videos meant to draw a viewer into your offering.
Sharing reviews online helps curious followers to perceive your company as trustworthy. Ensure your posts are engaging and offer value, making sure to include guests in the conversation.
Travelers are more likely to book an experience or location after reading through reviews. Leverage social sharing to highlight what you do well and point out what makes you worth booking with.
Social media marketing tips
- Share photos from a first-person perspective
- Showcase views of mountain vistas or sitting in a kayak
- Give a glimpse of the sounds (or lack thereof) while enjoying stargazing at your resort
- Demo food + even DIY recipes offered by your resort
- Opportunities to include your pet in outdoorsy adventures
Sharing travel inspiration on social media is one of the visual platform’s strongest selling features. You can get really granular with what you offer and use the power of storytelling to compel your audience. Promoting a helpful, enjoyable and positive experience will give followers a reason to stop scrolling and discover about what you have to share.
Keeping your sanity with social media
If you know you cannot dedicate, or just don’t want to allocate time to managing another social feed pick a handful of feeds to focus on. It’s a good idea to claim your business name on social media, with a redirect to where you are most active on social feeds.
As an experience provider, you know how important quality images are. Try planning out your content schedule in advance. Batch the process by making it a weekly task on a regular posting schedule as part of your marketing strategy. It’s more about consistency than publishing for the sake of posting.
Realistically, if you’re focused on managing the daily tasks of running a business, perhaps posting every day is a stretch. Instead, try aiming to post 3 times a week, during times when your followers are likely to be online.
Start exploring insights in the social media platforms you may already have active accounts with, including Instagram and Facebook, along with your website. You may notice your followers find value in specific content including sample itineraries or reviews from previous guests.
Social media users appreciate hearing about real-life customer experiences. So, focus on connecting with your followers in the way you would interact with a guest in real life.
Social media absolutely plays a role in the tourism industry whether you offer experiences, lodging or tours. Make social platforms work for you by honing in on the kind of guests you want to attract and what they are looking for as they plan their next adventure.
Create visually engaging content that’s inspiring and relevant to your followers. Social media’s impact on tourism connects the dots for travelers longing to experience something new and exciting. Curating an active social media presence will have a positive impact on your tourism business, especially if you focus on sharing content that is both emotionally and visually appealing.
If you’re looking for creative ways to optimize your business, integrate social media in a way that helps you focus on continuing to create amazing opportunities for people to discover and rave about your tourism business.