Google has devised a great way to look at your customer’s thought process from start to finish when it comes to travel. I challenge you to think about how you are currently impacting your customer during each of these phases, and how you might improve your efforts. Even without entering any new social networks or diving into any new platforms, you can still use this framework to improve your efforts through existing social media channels.
Travelers love to dream about their next vacation. For many this is their favorite part of the travel process, aside from the actual experience itself. In 2011, Google commissioned an independent marketing research company to conduct a travel study to better understand the role travel plays in the lives of U.S. citizens. It should come as no surprise that half of the travelers surveyed started thinking about a trip while they were online.
Ads, especially online advertisements, can be very effective in placing an idea in the customer’s mind, but more content –RELEVANT…TIMELY… content is a must to help reinforce your message. Nearly half of leisure travelers watch travel-related videos online, and more than two-thirds are thinking about a trip or actively choosing a destination while watching. Seems like a great time to get their attention, and while your current social media channels….can definitely be used to impact their decision, there are a few other tools to consider.
New girl in school – getting all the attention. Demographically, Pinterest skews mainly toward the upscale, 25–34 year old female population who make decisions not only for themselves, but for families, partners and peers. As you begin creating pinboards, be smart about linking back to images from your website , which can improve your SEO score and generate higher search results. Think about whether your images are Pinterest-ready…You can also easily add a Pinterest app to your Facebook page and double-down on the viral potential of both.If you still aren’t convinced, consider the recent stat reported by Shareaholic… The reason that stat is so impactful is that those three platforms…Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube are often touted for their SEO boosting capabilities.
This is a breakdown of the top 20 site categories with the highest concentration of Pinterest visitors – it’s recent data, collected in June of this year.Many of you likely fall into one of these top 20 categories, and are missing out on some beneficial traffic resulting from activity on Pinterest.
www.pinterest.com/fsaustinWhat it’s about: Engaging destination guides, wedding trends and travel gadgetsDoes a great job of: Selling Austin, Texas and strengthening the right brand associationsBoards include “Bucket List Adventures,” “Wedding Trends” and “Meet in Austin”#WhyAustin board has 44,516 followers; photos are tagged and represent reasons why people live and build businesses in the city
Owner-run Pinterest page – nice way to address any concerns about putting a brand out there if it doesn’t feel like the right way to engage
A great example of how a restaurant is using Pinterest, with excellent boards that go beyond the expected…highly stylized images of food.
PIN THIS = Suggestive sell--Think Wider: For example if you are a restaurant, don’t just post pictures of your menu. And of course, they should be larger, high quality photographs. They don’t have to be taken professionally, but in this day of accessible digital photography there is really no excuse for posting poor pictures of your food. A simple point and shoot with a macro setting is all you need. --Postpictures of your venue. Someone calls and enquires about party spaces and you can direct them to pictures of your restaurant – both empty and filled with happy patrons.--Share from the Kitchen – Invite the Chef to post pictures (or even a short video) of him or herself preparing a favorite dish – or maybe share snapshots of the fresh ingredients you carefully select for your menu.--Events – Compile a lifestyle pinboard that shows various events you’ve hosted. --Share your successes.Pin pictures from reviews or bloggers.--Anything Else - The list is virtually endless and the possibilities of viral propagation are huge. Anything that tells the story of your venuethat can engage the interest of your current, and potential, clientele. Another major influencer in this category are blogs.
More than half of mainstream internet users have chosen a hotel or other accommodations based on recommendations and ratings from people online. More than half of highly active, early adopter, internet users read travel-related blogs or independent websites.
We recently hosted a group of bloggers in Myrtle Beach from Sept. 11-14, centered on showing them some of our 60 Secrets as a part of the 60 Days campaign. Now if you look at the hashtracking report, which is a great way to measure your impact on Twitter, you’ll see that we received 182 tweets generating more than 2 million impressions and reaching an audience of 143,000 followers…And that is just a snapshot of ONE DAY, one 24-hour window of time during the four days they were in market.
How can I take advantage of this trend?Whether working through the Chamber, or on your own, consider hosting a blogger at your property or partnering with a hotel to offer a customized package for bloggers interested in visiting Myrtle Beach.
Once our customer has finished dreaming, and selected a destination, they move into the planning phase. Not surprisingly, Google’s study reported that travelers rely on the online space to plan travel. 85 percent of leisure travelers consider the internet their main source for planning travel.
They take their time in this phase, visiting approximately 22 travel-related sites during 9.5 research sessions prior to booking. That’s good news for you! Their primary reason for relying heavily on the internet? Two thirds say because it helped them learn more and just under two thirds say they use it because it provided information to help them decide.
Another big site is called HipMunk – features Trip Advisor reviews/ratings – recently called the best travel booking site in Forbes MagazineIn most major cities, the search volume on Google for “Hotels in [city]” has lost more than 70 percent in the last six years – instead they use the likes of Kayak, TripAdvisor and Expeida.
What kind of videos do they watch?
When do they watch?
Once they’ve decided, it becomes a bit more difficult to assert influence during the third phase. The competition is only getting steeper, with 53 percent of travelers planning to increase comparison shopping this year. But, according to Google’s study, travelers are increasingly booking via the internet, with greater transparency and options, so your best bet is to continue expanding your presence.
Even during a business trip, travelers are hoping to experience some leisure time while in market.The internet is the leading source prompting travelers to book, with 37 percent of the pie – and for reference: word of mouth only represents 16 percent.
55% of all Travelocity mobile bookings are now coming via tablet devices, with mobile-exclusive deals generating a good % of hotel bookings.Location-based services like Foursquare allow both lodging and non-lodging based businesses to offer up customized deals via a mobile deviceMobile optimize whenever possible – especially your own websitePartner up! Maybe your Facebook page has a strong following, but you’re just getting started on Twitter…
Another way to influence customers in this phase is to engage your current customers during and after their final stages of travel and urge them to share their experience online. 52 percent of Facebook users said their friends’ photos inspired their travel plans. Only 48 percent of people using social media to research travel plans kept their original plans after consulting their networks. ONE THIRD changed their hotel!
The fourth phase comes when your customers are actually experiencing their vacation in market. They expect a more informed and collaborative travel experience, driven by the growing functionality of mobile devices. More than half of travelers use a mobile phone or device for travel-related information….[continued on next slide]
Including 53 percent of leisure travelers and 70 percent of business travelers—nearly the same amount report using a mobile device to check in for a hotel or flight. (Detailed breakdown of mobile use)
Flip back to previous slide – compare the audiences in 2012 – your audience is more active on mobile devices than the average mobile phone user, and definitely more than the average population.
What is it? A location-based scavenger hunt application for mobile phones….This screenshot from a smartphone shows the SCVNGR app, specifically one of several treks available to those visiting or living in Washington D.C. An example of how Chicago is using SCVNGR to encourage engagement via social media.
A virtual treasure trove of user-generated content and consumer insights Companies might be limited in how much information they can push to users on Instagram, but it’s the data that users themselves are creating that makes for excellent advertising. Similar to Twitter, use #hashtags to find and share contentUse Statigr.am to track stats on your Instagram photosOnce companies find people Instagramming their content, either through the company’s hashtag or if someone adds the photos to the public location on a map, new services allow companies to gather those photos and either re-publish them on their site or post a comment on the photo drawing a user to the company’s product/service
As you can see from the image on the right, there are already well over 100,000 pictures on Instagramhashtagged Myrtle Beach. Tell a story: In social media, every word counts.Think about your audience. Who are they? What do you want them to know about your brand? For example, if you’re a fun place for friends and family alike,create that same environment on your Instagram stream by incorporating photos of guests and staff whenever youcan.
Finally, the last stage of travel is sharing. I love this line: Travelers are sharing more about their own trips, leading to more online content that will inspire others to dream…completing the cycle.
53 percent of leisure travelers share pictures of their vacations online, and nearly the same percentage enjoy reading about other traveler’s experiences, reviews and information You might think it will be difficult to influence customers in this phase, since they’ve already completed their experience in market, but remember that their content has the potential to inspire others…there’s a definite ripple effect at work here. You can also influence them by…Reminding customers of current channels – ask them to share their pictures or videos with youMonitoring/Engaging – follow through – if someone connects with you, respond
Share Timely & Relevant ImagesTransform Quotes into VisualsMake Regular Posts VisualPHOTO Stats
Firstly, your Tumblr posts can be published automatically to Facebook, saving you from having to create original posts on either platform. Secondly, Tumblr offers a much more visual approach to blogging compared to other ‘wordy’ blogging tools. More than half of the posts on Tumblr are images and photos…ripe for those of us in the tourism industry…Reason number three is that Tumblr’s popularity is rocketing. It grew 218% in popularity last year and now attracts over 9 million visitors everyday to see its quirky, patchwork quilt of posts.
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the five stages of travel dreaming Sharing Booking Planning Experiencing
dreaming• Pinterest is the outlet for dreaming• Shareaholic discovered (based on aggregated data from more than 200,000 publishers that reach more than 260 million unique monthly visitors each month) that Pinterest drives more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined.
dreaming• Seven bloggers attended the #MYR_60Days group familiarization trip in September 2012• Blogger activity on Facebook directly engaged more than 115,000 users• The trip generated an additional 23 blog posts to date