Don’t be a Social Media Recluse this Travel Season

Boelter + Lincoln, blog, social media, tourism

Regardless of the games that Wisconsin’s weather may be playing on us, we’re on the cusp of the 2015 peak travel season! For many families, couples and adventure seekers, this means a way to unplug from the daily grind and recharge the internal batteries. But for travel/tourism destinations and brands, this is your proverbial two-minute warning. No really, it is.

According to the U.S. Travel Association in 2014, more than 3 out of 4 domestic trips (78%) were taken for leisure purposes, and U.S. residents logged an astonishing 1.7 billion person-trips(1) for leisure purposes.  Of the more than $927.9 billion spent on travel, the breakdown swings from $220 billion spent on food services to $92.7 billion spent on recreation/amusement. That’s a hefty amount of money invested in leisure travel.

Statistics like this can’t be ignored. In a competitive travel landscape it’s essential to use your social media presence to your utmost advantage. You’ve invested valuable time to build and nurture those communities, below are 5 reminders for your destination or brand to ensure they are not forgotten about.

1.     Be Prepared … Not Scared!
By now, your communication strategy is well into its 2015 life cycle, and undoubtedly your social media approach is a key component of this. It’s time to take a look at your strategy and reevaluate the content and creative assets necessary (or required) to successfully implement your social communications during the peak season.  Specifically:

  • Are your images or videos visually appealing and intriguing to your targeted audience? Will they be compelling enough for the visitor to take an action?
  • Is your messaging timely and on brand? Is your message actionable?
  • Are you incorporating other online and offline marketing or campaign elements in your social content?

If you’ve whispered “No” to any of these questions, you can quickly course-correct. Grab your 2015 plan, focus in on the coming peak months, and then identify the major content themes that resonate with your audience. From there, create an editorial content calendar specific to social media. While it may feel overwhelming at first, both of these activities will help you remain organized and on-point during the busy travel season.

2.     Be Present
Travelers have bestowed an expectation upon you that may seem unfair at times – they expect you to be present. Yes be there on Facebook, Twitter or any other social channel that you regularly post to – ESPECIALLY during the peak travel season. If you’ve made social media a priority, it’s not enough to publish a random post here and there. Travelers will be looking to you for updated information such as availability, weather conditions, last-minute deals or most importantly the inspiration to book a vacation or getaway to your destination, lodging facility or restaurant. Give the people what they want!

At any given moment a potential traveler eager to book a vacation is doing their research, which will include visiting your social channels. They will undoubtedly have a question that only you can answer, and will take to your Facebook page or even Twitter or Instagram account to connect with you.

3.     Be Helpful
This goes hand-in-hand with being present above. It goes without saying that responding to inquiries in a timely matter is crucial in helping you guide a potential traveler to book that vacation, lodging accommodation or dinner reservation!  While in a perfect world you will always be there with an answer the moment a question is posted, that’s not feasible. Travelers understand – to a point (dang those seemingly unfair expectations again). If you’re dialed in to your Facebook or Twitter account and see a question posted, make answering that a priority. The times when you are not near a computer, setting up notifications on your mobile device can help – although this can get overwhelming in a heartbeat if questions are frequently being posted or comments are added to a post. A good rule of thumb: Answer all questions in 24 hours or less, 12 hours or less is even better.

4.     Stay In Your Friendly Brand Voice at All Times
Another no-brainer that bears reminding – stay in your friendly brand voice at all times. Bad days happen, but there’s nothing worse than interacting with a person behind a brand or business who is letting their bad day impact social messaging or interactions. While social media does require the use of a mobile device or computer, it’s now considered one of the first touch points for a potential customer relationship, and thus an extension of your customer service operations. Always think twice before posting – as the old saying goes: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

5.     Have Fun and Be Thankful
A brand or business that has fun with its customers is sure to gain loyal fan bases and unanticipated brand ambassadors.  When your customers see that you’re having fun, they’ll naturally want to have fun with you! Not to mention, be willing to share their traveling experiences (which you can than use in future social, online or offline marketing)! Receiving unsolicited user-generated content (such as traveler pictures, testimonials or videos) can be a huge boost to your marketing efforts. Often, the best stories/experiences are those shared by your visitors’ – and they can translate into an increase in recommendations. So go ahead, have fun and always be thankful for each visitor experience (positive or negative) shared with you!

[1] Person-trip defined as one person on a trip away from home overnight in paid accommodations, or on a day or overnight trip to places 50 miles or more (one-way) away from home.