The travel and tourism industry has gone through a major digital transformation. The traditional way consumers planned, purchased and experienced their dream vacation has radically changed. If we cast our minds back (not so long ago), it sounds almost arduous that consumers once relied on mountains of brochures, piles of guidebooks and the advice of travel agents. Now, along with the obligatory post-holiday polaroids and slideshows, those days are long gone.
The ‘always-connected traveler’ has empowered consumers, and as a result provided brands with the opportunity to monetize from a unique, trustworthy and loyal breed of content marketer – the consumer!
Capture and share every UGC moment
Travelers are creating and sharing inspiring holiday photos, videos and updates like never before, across an ever-expanding choice of social networks and mobile messaging apps. Some commentators have called this the ‘sharing economy’. There’s an explosion of user generated content occurring:
- Resort recommendations on Twitter
- Mountain adventure videos on YouTube
- Hyperlapse theme park rides on Instagram
- Hotel selfie images on Pinterest
- Six-second city tours on Vine
Travel brands must become agile enough to capitalize on these moments – to capture and use this content to inform, engage and influence. There’s huge opportunity to grow and retain market share.
Feed the content engine with hashtag competitions
By launching hashtag competitions and contests across networks like Twitter and Instagram, brands can encourage their audiences to generate additional social content that can be effectively mixed with organically harvested and owned content.
A recent study from Chase Card Services found that Millennials are leading the charge, creating and sharing their experiences on social media:
- Millennials are more likely (44%) to ask for travel opinions on social media
- Virtually all Millennials (97%) post on social networks and share experiences with friends while traveling
- Almost three in four Millennials (73%) post to social media at least once a day when traveling
And this type of content is incredibly powerful at inspiring and influencing other travelers. According to a Nielsen 2013 study, 92% of consumers around the world trust word of mouth over any other form of advertising, while 70% of consumers around the world say online consumer reviews are their second most trusted form of advertising.
Curate content in a social hub
Travel brands have now realized their websites and microsites are the most effective environments to consolidate and display authentic, persuasive consumer content. These locations are also where brands can capture valuable consumer data, encourage the creation and sharing of more UGC and seamlessly move visitors directly into the purchase process.
For example, to celebrate one million Facebook fans, Etihad filtered and curated the best images its customers had created and shared featuring the brand. Etihad then published the images to a social hub to convey what it’s like to fly with the world’s best airline for first class travel.
Develop the consumer marketing machine
These are a few important approaches as to how travel and tourism brands can leverage the emergence of the highly influential digital consumer. To really bolster marketing efforts, they need a new suite of tools to engage their consumers, new ways to showcase persuasive content from their happy customers, and more detailed insights into their behavior and preferences. Ultimately, it’s about boosting engagement and advocacy while driving socially-referred commerce.
For a comprehensive overview, check-out our latest white paper that outlines our thoughts and research on how travel and tourism brands are adapting to the great consumer power shift, by transforming their digital channels into powerful social hubs, infused with user generated content.