20 years ago people shared their travel experiences via postcards, letters and telephone calls – all were slow or expensive. Now, people share their travel experiences through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and the result is immediate, the influence is greater.
Research conducted in 2012 for the School of Tourism at the University of Bournemouth in the United Kingdom found that 78.3% of surveyed people share their holiday photos and experiences on Social Media. But how much influence does this shared content have? The answer – the influence can be enormous.
When people share their travel experiences on Social Media, it inspires travel dreams in others. I have attended the Arabian Travel Market’s sister event, the World Travel Market London, for the past two years, and the positive impact of Social Media on the cruise industry has been a topic of discussion.
It is easy to imagine why this occurs; cruisers share photos of themselves relaxing under a warm sun, walking on white sand beach, and sitting in front of a plate filled with delicious food. Back at home, their family and friends see these images and look around them to see rainy skies, a street full of traffic and a meal from a fast food restaurant sitting on their table.
The difference is obvious and the dream is born.
So if the cruise industry has seen the benefits of Social Media, why not other sectors of the travel industry as well? The University of Bournemouth survey mentioned earlier stated that 44.5% of surveyed people use Social Media when planning their holiday ideas. So whether you are involved in luxury travel, family travel, or adventure travel (to name just a few) – Social Media can provide your travel business with an incredible opportunity.
It is obvious that to benefit from Social Media one must be involved in Social Media, so you should choose the best platforms and launch your own accounts. However, not so obvious is that merely having a presence on Social Media is not enough – the secret is engagement. Speak to professionals in the field of Social Media and travel blogging and any analysis of their influence is focused on their engagement.
Followers means you have presence, but engagement means you have an influence, and influence means you have an advantage. Having an advantage in the highly competitive field of travel is crucial to your success. The social side of Social Media is too often forgotten – Social Media is far more than followers or likes – it is engagement.
Social Media can attract new customers and strengthen existing relationships, but only if used correctly. Great content creates travel dreams in others, but strong engagement allows you to create influence where you are the provider of those dreams.
Social Media must form part of your marketing strategy for you need to be part of the travel conversation happening now Social Media. This will not only allow you to fulfil the travel dreams of your customers, but also your dreams of being part of a successful travel company.