It is the 21st century and we are already living, eating, working and sleeping online. When nearly 80% of the Internet users rely on social media viral posts more for daily updates, staying away from the same platform is definitely not a smart move especially when you have a blooming travel business and there are 3.8 billion active social media users worldwide.
A boon or bane, we cannot justify but social media is here to stay and you simply cannot undermine its power for long. Instead of ignoring its power, it is better to ride the wave successfully because one way to develop a strong online presence is definitely through interactive social media accounts. Travel agent software development companies and other businesses, small or medium, are already harnessing social media channels for branding, a travel agency has to have a workable, highly engaging and interactive social media accounts to stay ahead of 198,593 others.
And, the platform is not devoid of untold benefits, even though there are still 40% of travel agents worldwide who consider social media as less valuable, according to ASTA’s Technology and Web Usage Report.
Staying social can work for all, but why travel agencies need them is the big question here?
Why travel agencies need social media platforms for branding?
Getting a concrete answer to the above question is easy – Just understand your target market. The report says, millennials take 5.6 trips a year and spent nearly 200 Bn US$ on travel in 2018. But, the global consumer market is highly volatile, or so the statistics point out.
When on one side, the young millennials and generation z are literally surviving online, their overall time spent on social media sites has suffered a gradual decline, according to a recent report. On the other hand, the same report suggests not-so-tech-savvy baby boomers are showing a substantial growth in Instagram and WhatsApp usages.
And, a surprising figure shows that nearly 31% of baby boomers took international trips in 2019, as per a recent study.
The statistics suggest staying online with your business is imperative today. But one can argue that constantly updating websites, sending emailers and newsletters, as well as, appearing on trade shows suffice their need for branding. Now, this is a common strategy every venture is following – be it grocery or travel booking software development company. How different is your travel business from them???
In simple words, we can say that travelling is all about enjoying the beauty of Nature and all the other elements that are indigenous to that particular place. But how can you communicate that message to your readers? How can you show them what your travel agency is offering to enhance their travel experience? Or, how can you expect your potential customers identify you amongst a thousand other agencies?
Seeing is after all believing, and that is exactly what a social media platform is doing for your travel agency. It allows you to communicate your message to your potential consumers in a completely different tone than any other marketing channel. And, according to another study, 52% of Facebook users agree that they were inspired to travel to a particular location after seeing vacation posts.
Despite the fact that social media is ‘not-one-size-fits-all’, there are some serious benefits your agency can enjoy if you have mastered the art of effectively using different social media platforms.
Benefits of using Social Media Platforms for travel agencies
Allow me to quote Head of Leisure and Online Travel, Amadeus IT Group, Sebastien Gibergues’s words here, “To remain competitive, online travel players have to think ahead and adapt their product and business models based on anticipated changes and potential disruptions of the ecosystem.”
Many travel agencies or individual agents still prefer age-old methods of grabbing user attention, as mentioned in one of the above statistics. But, “Change is the only thing Constant”, and those who do not believe it, are the ones who wither away with time. So, for all those who are still ignorant about the magnanimous power of social media marketing, here is the list of benefits to refer back to –
Combatting and communicating disruptions
We begin on a negative note, true, but natural disasters are common tourism disruptions inevitable in the tourism and hospitality industry. In the event of adverse weather conditions, natural disasters, political unrest or pandemic like COVID-19, mass travel cancellations are inevitable but handling such ocean of altering travel bookings or reservations and cancellations become a humongous task.
Imagine a situation where your agency has to inform each and every traveller of possible delays! Communicating the message by updating your official website or using a social media account, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, is easy and time-saving. In addition, the agencies, as well as, travel booking software companies can stay abreast with what is happening around the world and how travellers are reacting to such possible travel breakdowns.
Your agency should be prepared aforehand to combat and survive such unforeseen events, social media is best at guiding you through the trying times.
Inspire more people to travel and create demand
Now, social media is not all about #MeToo and #MarkedSafe, so is travel which is fun and exciting. Your social media content should be equally fun, engaging, and inspiring. As mentioned earlier, people choose a travel destination after checking their contacts’ travel posts.
For example –
Four Seasons, luxury hotel chains, has highly engaging content on social media and successfully bagged nearly 250 million users on Sina Weibo, China’s popular social network.
And, then we have the Insta-influencers with large followers and followings.
For example –
In 2015, the tourism board of Wanaka, a small alpine town of New Zealand, invited such trendsetters to post about their adventures that provided approximately 14% increase in travel and tourism in Wanaka itself, according to recent reports.
This is how you are creating travel demand for a particular location, but posting content such as “Now you’re less than 10 clicks away from seeing an image on Instagram to purchasing a ticket to go there,” you are motivating users to click on the link and reach your site for details.
Also, offering right deals, special room rates and seat sales, on your social media account, you are showing your users what they are missing. Exciting pictures about certain destinations along with lucrative offers and packages, as well as, your agency link will generate authentic leads for your company.
Why??? Well! This is because your engaging posts are creating demand.
Build your online reputation
This is definitely one of the most important social media marketing strategies adopted not only by the travel agencies but also by travel agent software development companies. In the absence of a strong online presence, no business can survive for long in the digital era. Staying in close touch with your followers with engaging posts, quick addressing of the queries and informing travellers about best seasons to travel along with lucrative packages they can avail, you are boosting your offline branding efforts as well.
But be regular on your social media account so that your posts and offers are first things that feature on your user’s social media account walls, your agency name is the first thing they can think of when planning a vacation.
Encourage and listen to travel experiences
This is how you connect with your potential customers.
For example –
In 2009, Tourism Queensland launched a campaign, “Best Job in the World” for a worldwide hunt of a prospective Island Caretaker whose KRA included –
- Live on Hamilton Island for 6 months,
- Explore the island around the Great Barrier Reef,
- Blog about his experience.
“Tourism Queensland saw over 34,000 video applicants from 197 countries, over 8 million website hits, 378,735 Facebook referrals, a 93% increase in followers and over 610 hours of user-generated content.”
Such a post created demand and offered a platform to your followers to share their happy travel experiences. These stories are further inspiring more audience to connect with your brand, travel and write their experiences on your Facebook or Insta-wall. Sharing posts on tailored loyalty programs with all-inclusive and affordable holiday packages will bring in more users, in return.
Again, if you use the same platform as a forum to allow your customers to share their grievances such as flight delays or cancellations and in return, offering remedies in real-time, can turn similar negative situations in your favour. In the end, you are walking home with loyal customers.
Become a travel expert
And, finally, your expert opinion and in-depth knowledge about destinations unknown can make you an expert in the travel industry. Showcase your expertise here on specific tours, seasons and other details. This will establish that strong faith in your followers who will eventually turn to your expertise for planning and booking vacations.