3 Ways Social Influence Is Travel Marketing Gold
Social influence can equal a 14% increase in tourism if travel marketers do it right. And if they do it right, they’re mastering social media influence and influencers. Officials in New Zealand’s Lake Wanaka partnered with social media influencers who created that 14% customer lift after the visitors praised the region on Instagram.
“Influencers have transformed the way we perceive travel,” writes Mitzi Wilson on May 11 in Adweek.
The social media and content leader at group tour operator Topdeck Travel says social media influences what kind of customer experience tourists believe they’ll have in a given destination. Often, its picturesque qualities even influence whether they’ll go. Can they adequately brag to their friends?
“More than 40 percent of Millennials aged 18 through 33 consider ‘Instagrammability’ when selecting their next travel destination, according to a recent survey by Schofields. The power of platforms like Instagram and Facebook is highly influential when it comes to molding travel preferences, but the power of social media influencers has even greater implications.”
This Instagrammability trend falls in line with the customer experience trend among Millennial travelers. The New York Times and eMarketer recently reported that experiences are the No. 1 priority for this group when they take vacations.
Topdeck found the same: “67 percent of Millennials reserve most of their money for activities and experiences when travelling. And after getting a taste of their desired travel experiences through influencer content, consumers have preset expectations on what these experiences should be like.”
Create Customer Experiences to Emulate
Set customer experience expectations by creating them for influencers who Instagram them to their followers. Wilson provides the examples of “personalized fine dining or unique amenities for influencers.”
Target Marketing cautions, though, to be clear with influencers that they must disclose gifts or payments, for the travel marketer’s own safety. Back in 2016, travel marketer Airbnb experienced a brouhaha when Beyoncé’s photo at one of its homes trended on Facebook without a disclosure. That’s an FTC no-no.
Wilson also cautions:
“Increased influencer power presents more opportunities for these individuals to accept bigger paychecks. This is seen by many as a compromise to authenticity if the passion isn’t truly there — especially as followers become more aware of brand partnerships and paid posts. Other hurdles, such as growing numbers of fake followers and influencer management issues on the brand side, have also surfaced following the rise of influencers as a viable marketing tool.”
Create Social Influencer Content
Wilson says marketers can partner with influencers or create the content themselves.
The idea is to meet customer experience expectations or even exceed them, with what Wilson calls “enhanced aspirations.”
Some travel marketers are even hiring personnel based on social media marketing needs like drone photography and video, as well as promoting their own influencers from within the brand.
Wilson says for instance, her colleague shares travel stories on Instagram with #60SecondswithSarah.
Create ‘Instagrammable’ Photo Backdrops
For content marketing to work, there needs to be content. And Wilson suggests that in the social media age, marketers should let customer experience rule — travelers can create user-generated content in the form of “Instagrammable” photos of the destination.
If it’s a hotel, maybe the lobby is already picturesque. Maybe the rooms have great views. But travel marketers can do more, she says:
“With more elegant and elaborate displays, they are better able to entice influencers and set them up for the most alluring Insta photos possible.”
Disney knew this catering to photography worked all along, pointed out a speaker at DMA’s main annual conference in 2011.
Jerry McLaughlin told marketers photos created positive memories and impressions, sometimes when there were none in the first place.
Parents tell their children to smile, which influences memories, McLaughlin said. "Who says, 'I want to capture the moment just as it is. Pull your sister's hair again'?"
What do you think, marketers?
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Related story: Beyoncé Brouhaha Over Airbnb, FTC