Photo by Tom Clearly, Unsplash

The world is ever-changing, and so are the people who explore it. Consumers are continuously evolving and finding new ways to research, connect and communicate to people they trust. Marketers are forever trying to reach specific audiences but often create uninspiring campaigns that lack substance and get lost in the vast digital sphere.  Marketing within the  Travel and Hospitality Industry is no different. Travellers no longer rely on mass communication or sleazy ad campaigns to plan their trips, but instead seek out valuable information that adds value to their unique customer journeys. By tapping into personal, online and social networks for referrals and reviews, consumers are creating their own personalized experiences inspired by images, videos, and beautiful content online. As user-generated content creation in the travel industry takes flight, is your brand being left behind?

Traveller in Airport
Photos by Jeshoots, Unsplash

Trust is the name of the game

Due to technological advancements, consumers are more informed, empowered and connected than ever before. Digital transformation has not only disrupted the business world, and but has also changed the way consumers do research and make buyer decisions. With this new sense of knowledge and power, it is not surprising that  92% of consumers claim to trust peer recommendations and referrals more than traditional advertising and brand messages. 

Millennials are now dominating the travel market, representing 20% (200 million people) of all international travellers. Just like most modern travel consumers,  Millennials are tech-savvy adventure-seekers who invest time in planning their trips and are all about creating memorable moments. They browse through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Pinterest to find inspiration and connect to like-minded travellers who share their passion for exploring.  They also use these and other online platforms to get information that will guide them from the initial  “dreaming moments”  all the way through the funnel to the “experiencing moments” at the end of the customer journey.So why are consumers turning to online platforms and social media networks and not to agencies? Trust. It is all about trust.

Social Media Referral
Photo by RawPixel, UnSplash

The power of social media

By democratising online reviews, people can go to crowd-sourced review sites such as TripAdvisor, or ask questions on specific social media groups such as Girls Love Travel. Travellers also turn to key influencers on social media platforms, and follow their posts, blogs and stories for recommendations. Consumers also trust in these real-time in-person stories and personal experiences to manage expectation, get genuine feedback and become inspired. The use of location check-ins, group photos, selfies and public status updates further validate the information and invites travellers to join a community, rather than simply buying a product or service.

Let’s take a quick look at some social media statistics within the travel industry:

  • 74% of travellers are active social media users.
  • 42% of consumers are looking for travel inspiration on their mobile devises and 40% are actually booking on the same devise.
  • 60% use travel apps and  85% prefer using mobile to book activities.
  • 91% of people using social media channels access their accounts using mobile devices.
  • 51%  use Instagram everyday while 35% claim to check they accounts a few times a day.
  • 81% of millennials use and check Twitter at least once per day.
  • 96% of bloggers promote their blog posts on social media.

When booking travel experiences, 89% of Millennials base their decisions on content posted on social media by peers online. These travellers are not only relying on online content for information, but are also creating their own.  According to Internet Marketing Inc97% of millennials post photos and videos on social media during their trip, with 75% of them posting everyday. This constant creation, use and sharing of user-generated content emphasises the power of the consumer experience. It is clear that social media networks have become powerful influential sources of never-ending visual and commentary content.

capturing moment
Photo by Rachael Crowe, Unsplash

Authentic storytelling

As mentioned before, when the Modern Travel Consumer wants to head into the unknown, they prefer getting advise from trustworthy sources, fellow travellers and peers who they can relate to. So how can your travel brand become a reliable source? Authentic information.

Telling an authentic user-generated story increases engagement and can attract potential consumers who truly understand your brand purpose. Authenticity therefore does not only generate genuine interest, but builds meaningful relationships based on trust. Consider introducing fun and interactive ways for consumers to become brand ambassadors. Examples may include hosting social media takeover days, creating insider content based on experiences, ‘A life in the day of’ documentary-style content pieces or inviting influential customers to write guest posts for your blog. 

The aim is to create content that stands out. Up to 65% of senior marketing executives and  70% of adventure travel professionals are focusing on marketing aspects like photos, video, illustrations and infographics. Visual storytelling strategies contribute to memorable marketing campaigns that cut through the clutter.  Your brand should be no different. Think about creative ways to deliver your message visually. You can then adjust and customise the content and repurpose it across multiple online platform. 

Collaboration is key

Another way to create authentic content is by encouraging people to share their experiences. This can be done by inviting audiences to share or review your brand, or by aligning your brand with influencers. Micro-influencers (1000-10,000 followers) and macro-influencers (more than 10,000 followers) have the power to put your name on the map. Whether you want to increase reach with macro-influencers or focus on niche markets and engagements with micro-influencers, the power of influencers should not be underestimated.

Endorsements, referrals, recommendations and mentions by influencers are invaluable as their supporters trust their posts and follow their lead.The most widely used social media platforms for Most brand influencer collaborations can be found on Instagram, followed by other platforms like  blogs, YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest. Statista also reported that sponsored influencer posts on Instagram are expected to grow from 9.7 million in 2016 to over 30 million in 2019. Influencer marketing can allow you to tap into new markets, reach new demographics and join a community of like-minded people.

Join the content revolution

Now that you know what it takes to create engaging content that connects you to your audiences, are you ready to start telling your story? Join our platform and find the perfect influencer for your brand. Or if you want more information get in touch with someone from our team.

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