If you find yourself at the airport with at least an hour ahead of departure time, what’s the first thing you’d be most likely to do? Yes, you got it – for many of us, checking in through Facebook and posting about it on Instagram is akin to putting on sunscreen before you leave the house. The rise of social media and use of mobile devices have indeed changed the experiences of many businesses and travelers today.
And by experience, we’re talking about the rise of social travel sites, which simply means information-sharing websites pertaining to travel – with the additions of features that allow you to tap on your social networks for travel advice and to look at reviews and ratings posted by other travelers. With that, travel planning has never been more efficient and effective. However, this influenced the way travelers make their travel decisions.
While many travel companies are already on social media promoting services and communicating with their customers, it is also important for brands to be timely with their responses to customers on social media. After all, communication on social networks is designed to be a two-way channel where you can get real-time responses to your messaging.
Therefore, having a team that’s responsible for monitoring your social channels for interactions and engaging with users is crucial for travel brands to be successful.
Cathay Pacific, for instance, monitors closely and engages actively through social listening to better understand its audiences. By tuning in to social conversations online and monitoring closely on what people are saying about them, Cathay Pacific has been able to retweet in a timely manner and engage more effectively with their customers; it is a clever way to keep their fans coming back for more.
— Cathay Pacific (@cathaypacific) October 9, 2015
According to a recent survey in Singapore, more than 80% of travel research is done online. This comes as no surprise given the heavy reliance on online social platforms in recent years, and it is also estimated that 25 percent of all online searches related to travel occurs via mobile platforms.
While social media presents unprecedented opportunities for travel companies today to build their brand awareness and share their messaging with a wider group of audiences, therein lies an industry gap resulted in the change of how customers consume their information online. While customers do engage with travel agencies to plan for their trips, we have to recognise that majority of them still turn to the Internet and their social media platforms to find out more information before planning for their trips.
Let us take a look at some of the best practices for social brand building and how travel companies are able to avoid the common pitfalls in order to be successful on social media.
1. Always consider your brand’s positioning and messaging.
If you are part of the marketing team, these can be information that you are already familiar with when creating content for social channels. For instance, Singapore Airlines uses Twitter as its main platform for its corporate branding. Upholding its affordable luxury image, Singapore Airlines creates content that shows the beautiful interiors of its aircraft alongside the mouthwatering food they serve onboard.
2. Connect and engage with your customers.
It’s always good to engage with your audiences and what better place to do that than on social media? Airbnb, for instance, takes on an individual approach and engages with their audiences through social media such as offering travelers and its guest hosts social statuses, travel tips, and keep their audiences updated with the latest Airbnb events and happenings through interactive trivia questions and contests.
3. Visuals, visuals, and more visuals.
We have to agree that social media is becoming increasingly visual, with Instagram and Pinterest being at the forefront of this trend. Sharing photos and albums on social media is a great way to spur engagement and widen your brand’s reach, especially for the travel and hospitality industry where people search online for pictures and videos of holiday destinations, services and attractions to help them in their decision-making process.
YourSingapore Tourism is a good example of how companies can leverage Instagram effectively: high-quality photos, which are taken by avid photographers around the little red dot usually makes a special appearance onto YourSingapore Tourism Instagram news feed, capturing the hearts of many tourists and attracting them to Singapore.
4. Be on the mobile runway.
With the rise of mobile apps such as SnapChat within the region, there is no reason why travel brands should not be on it too. Thanks to the visually-driven social nature of the travel industry, social mobile apps such as SnapChat seems to be the next ideal platform for companies to tap on.
Some large multinational companies such as National Geographic and Beautiful Destinations are already on Snapchat, using interesting ways to engage with its online audiences. Thanks to mobile, brands can now create a more immersive and tailored experiences for their customers. It’s time others should look at how they can leverage this rising trend to make the travel experience as seamless as possible.
With that being said, if you are in the travel and hospitality industry, but realised you’re not on social media yet, fear not because it is never too late to take off and bring your brand to greater heights with social media today!
The writer is Yvonne Tey, marketing director of Hootsuite APAC.