Tourism and Social Media
January 19th, 2012

It’s no secret – I love travel and tourism, and I love social media. I work with both on a daily basis and I find that the travel/tourism/hospitality industries seem to especially benefit from social media usage.

Of course there are all of the traditional general reasons why I’m such an avid promoter of social media for business – an active Facebook fan page helps you appear higher in searches, it helps you reach a broad/new audience,  and the like. Here, however, are some of my top reasons for finding social media beneficial specifically for the above industries.

  • Pictures and videos: You know the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”. This is especially true in the travel and tourism industry. Social media outlets make it incredibly easy (and affordable) to reach a wide number and range of people with images. It catches their eye, and can get them excited about a particular destination, inspire travel in general, or even just pique their interest in your company and make them want to learn more.
  • Twitter travel/hospitality chats: Twitter chats are, in my opinion, one of the top ways to “meet” and interact with those in the same/related industries on social media. They allow you to share your knowledge and experiences in front of an expanded audience in a fun and casual manner.  I’m working on a blog post that focuses solely on chats within these industries, which I hope to post in the next week or so, so stay tuned.
  • Keywords on twitter: Various twitter tools allow you to keep track of specific key words or sets of words. You may want to find those looking for certain services/products (honeymoon planning or a luxury hotel in Venice, for instance), or it may be someone specifically mentioning your brand (ie a hotel chain). This allows you to reach out to that person if applicable, learn what people are discussing/looking for on twitter and adjust your social media marketing strategy appropriately. People are constantly discussing travel, weddings/honeymoons, special events and other industry related topics, and these keywords help you keep track of and filter them.
  • Direct mentions/hashtags/Facebook tagging: On twitter, it’s a direct mention of your twitter name or (for instance @chimeratravel) or a hashtag with your brand (ie #hotelname); on Facebook or Google+ it’s a tag of the company (or your personal) name. Either way, you can see when people are mentioning your specific company and can address their mention/question/concern appropriately and in a timely manner. Much better than having a competitor address it! Furthermore, people are often quite impressed when you reply to them quickly on social media – it shows a commitment to customer service and desire to meet their needs.
  • Joint promotions: Facebook fan pages in particular make it easy to join forces with others in the industry. These promotions are offered on both parties’ fan pages, which puts your company in front of a whole additional group of people that you may not have had the opportunity to touch otherwise. For instance, a hotel and restaurant in the same area may want to partner for a weekend promotion that offers a discounted hotel rate and restaurant gift certificate. A travel planner and a tourism board might want to partner to promote an emerging destination.  If a company links their Facebook posts to twitter, this increases your reach further. Make sure to partner with companies with similar target audiences. If you solely sell luxury travel for instance, it doesn’t make much sense to partner with a budget motel, even if they have an impressive number of Facebook fans/twitter followers – this will actually confuse your audience and may create a negative result.
  • Exclusive sales and discounts: Many companies provide exclusive offers or discounts to their social media fans and followers. These help to increase fan loyalty and reach those that you wouldn’t with an email campaign to current clients/prospects.  People also seem more accustomed to share or give feedback (in the form of a comment, “like”/”+1”, or retweet) when using social media, and ultimately end up helping you promote your company.

This is simply a list of my top reasons for loving social media for these industries. I could probably write a small book (or e-book) on the subject.  Social media continues to evolve, and surely there will be plenty of additions to the list this time next year, or maybe even next month. This just highlights some of my daily/weekly activity in social media, and why I love so highly recommend (effective) use of it in the travel/tourism/hospitality industries.

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