I spend a lot of my time talking to people who regularly travel the world, and last year there was one theme that dominated most conversations – the Olympics.
The impact of the 2012 Games was more profound than any other event in my lifetime. From the opening ceremony on July 27, when Danny Boyle’s cinematic extravaganza wowed audiences around the world, to Usain Bolt’s three gold medal wins and the closing ceremony on August 12, London 2012 captured the imagination of a generation.
Everyone has a theory about why this tournament had the impact that it did. For starters, the Olympic Games organising committee LOCOG, as well as VisitBritain, did a fantastic job of promoting the Games, mobilising media from all over the world before, during and after the event.
In contrast, the Beijing Olympics in 2008 was a media black hole, with international journalists denied entry before the Games and pre-event coverage largely limited to government-approved marketing campaigns.
During the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Facebook had only just been launched, and other social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram were still a glint in the eyes of their future billionaire developers.
So 2012 was really the first time the media had complete unrestricted access to the event, and the first time social media was used as a tool, both to promote the games and to cover them during the tournament.
London 2012 was also the first time the world had come together in a global meeting since the 2008 economic crisis, making it a symbolic global handshake and a chance to prove the strength of nations. The national pride inspired by the Games is something that citizens of the world were keen to share, and social media proved to be a fast and effective way to do so.
If you're wondering what all this has to do with travel or ATM, it is this: the legacy of the Games will affect the travel industry for years to come, not only because of its positive influence on the number of people travelling to watch and participate in sporting events, but because it is the ultimate case study in how social media can be used to drive interest in an event, and indeed a place, or a hotel.
The opportunities out there for the travel and tourism industry are enormous. Just look at Instagram: exotic travel destinations are among the most widely covered themes on the photo-sharing platform, and everyone loves the bragging rights earned from posting an image of your luxury hotel suite or ‘checking-in’ at a great restaurant.
All travel companies worth their salt have some level of social media presence, but how many are doing it well enough that it is having a tangible impact on business?
Converting Facebook followers into loyal guests and Instagram ‘Likes’ into room nights is the ultimate goal for hotels and travel companies, but this is virtually impossible to measure. So how important is social media to the bottom line?
We will be discussing social media and luxury travel in the ATM Seminar Theatre on May 6 at 14.15. We will ask the hotel industry’s leading social media experts to discuss the importance of the phenomenon, and ask how they translate ‘luxury’ into the social media space.