There is no denying that the travel industry has seen a big shift toward using social media to drive sales and increase customer loyalty and interaction. The big guys are doing it, and the smaller travel agencies and tour operators are catching on slowly.
Unfortunately, too many wonder what they have to offer in the social media space, and fail to understand how it will benefit their business. Social media can be an affordable promotional vehicle, an ultra-efficient customer service tool, or at the very least it is a great way to generate content and improve your search engine performance.
In short, no matter what your objectives, you have everything to offer the social media space and the benefits will come down to your commitment level. Here are some travel marketing ideas to getting started:
Choose the right platform
Talk to people in the know, research online and check out your competitors before deciding which social media tools will work best for you. Consider your database demographics and analyse where they spend their time in the social media space. Have a peek at my past post ’Marketing Ideas for your Travel Agency business’ for more info on choosing the right platform.
Get a strategy in place
The winning formula will depend upon your objectives and your clients. Tourism Australia (http://www.facebook.com/SeeAustralia) has found success in using their Facebook page as a hub for visitors to share their holiday photos, and then choosing ‘favourite fans pics’ from the week gone. For others it’s spreading the love by:
- Sending your latest travel deals viral to reach your client before others do
- Sharing blog posts about journeys that you and your staff have been on
- Creating and promoting competitions and polls
- Sharing links to travel articles, industry news and tips
- Sharing videos, company newsletters and much more
- Use social media as a customer service tool, Twitter is great for this
Set yourself up
If Facebook is your poison take the time to create a nice ‘welcome’ page. Check out Melbourne Private Tours as an example. Your graphic designer should be able to do this at little cost to you, otherwise get your hands dirty and use an online tool like Static FBML. Next, use the Facebook Tabs feature to add information like your services, reviews and promotions.
With Twitter you’re best off keeping it simple. Change your profile to suit your business identity. It’s important to have your logo embedded into the background. You can do this yourself or use an online tool like freetwitterdesigner.com.
Make a commitment
At the end of the day you will get out as much as you put in. Social media tools are generally free, but they do require some time and effort. I suggest setting aside 30mins each day to update your social media network. Retweet that interesting article on Twitter, post your latest deal to Facebook and hit ‘publish’ on your blog post about travelling through Eastern Europe.
If you don’t have time to do it yourself then seek out a socially savvy staff member and make sure you formulate a plan together. There is nothing worse than a social network left decaying.
Integrate your social networks with your other marketing activities
Promote your social media presence on your website, business cards, on every newsletter and piece of marketing material, and in-store. Take some time to update your online business listings with the new social media links and run a competition directing people to your social media site. If you find your follower/fan numbers at a halt, try some low cost social media advertising.
The options are endless and after you have tried and tested a few things you may be surprised with the winning formula. Social media is an invaluable tool if used correctly. Don’t forget to use the many free social media reporting tools available online – they are brilliant in terms of gauging consumer behaviour and demographics.