For the travel industry, at least, social media is seen as more valuable than pay-per-click advertising. The World Travel Market 2011 report says that travel professionals see social media as one of the key revenue-generating channels over the next five years. As proof of this, the study found that eight out of ten travel-related businesses use some form of social media.
Not only that: the World Travel Market 2011 also expects that in five years, half of all travel-related companies would be generating income and bookings on social media, rising from the current 22%. Out of those using social media marketing, around 50% do not even invest in PPC advertising, while 1 out of 5 of those who do use PPC aim to stop or reduce their spending in the next few years.
It is very apparent that the travel industry loves social media. So if you are in the travel business, it is time to amp up your social media activities.
Blogs are a perfect fit for the travel industry. Pictures can only do so much. While a lot of people tend to look for pictures when they try to decide on a travel destination, a lot of them would want to read more about these destinations.
Where are the best places to go inSpain? What local foods should you try? How do you get to Boracay fromManila? These are things that pictures cannot explain.
Also, blog posts represent a good way of getting those keywords up. Do you want to share the best places to go while in Thailand? Then write a blog post about it, plus many more!
There are currently 800 million people on Facebook and half of these are online every single day. Establishing and enhancing your presence on Facebook cannot hurt!
What’s more, Facebook is a great social recommendation engine. Post your blog post on your Facebook profile, and chances are some of your fans are going to share it to their own networks, helping you spread the word about your business.
Also, with Facebook’s current redesign (see Facebook Timeline), they are giving more emphasis on photos and videos. Why not put up that killer snapshot of theGreat Wall of China, or the Tubbataha Reef? The more breathtaking your photos are, the better the chance of these being shared by your customers with their friends and family. And it is a known fact that social recommendations drive more purchases than any marketing material you can come up with!
Not only that: if you want to engage your customers, then Facebook is the best place to do it. Engaged customers buy more plane tickets, book more hotel rooms, and choose you as a provider of their vacations. They are also more likely to share your content with their friends. Facebook makes it easy for businesses to engage their customers. Just a simple poll or question could do the trick. Ask them about their most horrid vacations, or where they want to go next. Or ask them for a list of things they want their hotel rooms to be.
Power Tip #1: See how BootsnAll engages their fans on Facebook, simply by asking a question then linking to their own blog post:
…or giving away stuff…
Twitter is also a great place to share your blog posts and get social recommendations from your followers, but the beauty of Twitter is that it enables you to give some awesome customer service in real-time.
For example, if somebody tweets that his hotel room provided by your company is disappointing, then you can offer him an upgrade free of charge to keep him happy.
Power Tip #2: JetBlue has become the textbook example for delivering outstanding customer service on Twitter. The airline literally monitors Twitter and replies to every complaint, question or comment that is said about the company, even if it is not directed at them.
Twitter is also a great way to find new customers. Perhaps someone is complaining that his search for an affordable honeymoon package in Hong Kong is not going well. You could offer him similar packages that are within his budget.
Travel companies get a lot of help from other travel companies. For example, a hotelier can do well if he or she ties up with a travel and tours company. To get meaningful and profitable business connections, be sure to have a LinkedIn profile.
LinkedIn makes it easier for you to find similar companies and create a connection with them. If you are too shy to make the first move, you can actively participate in travel-related groups and discussions.
Foursquare and Other Location-Based Services
A sizable chunk of your customers would be walk-ins. They might be backpackers who suddenly want to change their plans or people within the neighborhood looking for some time off their daily grind.
This is why travel companies should also put up a presence on location-based services such as Foursquare. People could be having coffee and reading a book at a café in theHonduras, decide to check out Foursquare and see that you are just nearby. They seek you out to see if you got something for them.
Power Tip #3: Seal the deal by offering discounts to people who check into your travel agency or office. Say, give your Foursquare customers a 25% off hotel rates just by checking in.
Things to Share on Social Networks
Aside from images and blog posts and travel journals, you can also share video tours on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and just about any social media outlet you choose. You can post a short video showing potential customers just how well-appointed your presidential suite is, or just how much fun your amusement park is.
Power Tip #4: Instead of uploading it directly on Facebook or hosting the video on your site, you can gain more views by uploading it to YouTube, Daily Motion, and other popular video sharing sites and using the right keywords for its title and description. This way, your video gets included in searches made in the video sharing site itself and on search engines such as Yahoo and Google.
You can also create your own customized map for a tour that you create. For example, a charter bus company that has a museums tour inNew Jerseycan create a custom Google Map showing all the museums included in the tour, or all the museums inNew Jerseyfor that matter!
About the author: In addition to helping clients improve their Social Media campaigns, Search Engine Optimization, Inc. provides innovative marketing strategies revolving around a custom fit SEO solution that is designed to take you places in the rankings. Come visit SEO Inc. on Facebook and find out more.