Anyone just getting back from a trip away is more than likely to have engaged with social media at some stage. From carrying out research and making initial decisions through to post-holiday reviews and feedback, travellers have become more and more social. And as consumers get increasingly savvy, brands need to get more creative. A marketing strategy without social just isn't going to cut it in today's competitive travel industry.
Of course, you don't talk about social media's hierarchy without including Twitter. According to a study carried out last year, 33% of the tweets they analysed were directly related to the tourism industry or travel professionals. Travellers are not only using the social platform to organise the logistics of their trip (hotels, activities and costs), they are also using it to find deals and share reviews.
According to Reuben Arnold, director of brand and customer experience at Virgin Atlantic, "Social media helps us demonstrate our personality and what we're about". While head of creative strategy at Airbnb, Vivek Wagle is more specific about Twitter saying that it "excels at real-time responsiveness and feedback". And if the travel industry giants are embracing Twitter, the rest of us should be following suit.
Another big travel brand, British Airways, made innovative use of Twitter last summer. Sending a travel blogger to Rome for 12 hours with just tweeted recommendations to guide him, BA received more than 1,600 tweets offering Rome-based advice and ideas. This enabled them to create excitement about a destination - and involve customers in the process. Your travel business may not be a global brand, but you can still harness the power of Twitter. Here are a few tips to help you on your way:
Ignore the numbers: When it comes to Twitter, it's all about quality, not quantity. Forget about how many followers you have, just make sure you focus on interacting with them. Your aim is to create conversations and build your own community.
Be consistent: You don't need to create a constant flow of tweets, just be consistent with their regularity. Hourly, daily, weekly or monthly - whatever is a sustainable amount for you.
Content and timing: Monitor which tweets capture the attention of your followers. You will see certain trends emerging in terms of the content and the time of day and week they were sent. Work out what your followers like and send relevant tweets at relevant times.
Think visual: Photos and images are guaranteed to work well in engaging social media audiences. Make sure you incorporate visual media (including videos) into your social strategy.