Building A Travel Social Brand 2012


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The complete 'Building A Travel Social Brand' whitepaper. This publication explores content across the three key phases of the consumer decision journey:

1) Initial Consideration – Trigger
2) Active Evaluation – Information Gathering, Shopping and Buying
3) Post Purchase Experience and Advocacy

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Building A Travel Social Brand 2012

  1. 1. BUILDING A TRAVEL SOCIAL BRAND What you need to know as you plan for 2013 37 case studies 13 vital questions to ask to your business 19 Travel brands benchmarked 18 trends identified By Julius Duncan – Marketing Director | Headstream and Tom Chapman – Head of Innovation | Lawton Communications Group www . h eadstrea m . co m | S e p te m ber 2 0 1 2
  2. 2. p age 2 contents 3 Executive Summary 5 Travel sector background 7 Travel sector – Social Brands 100 insights 13 Travel sector – Current challenges and case studies 26 Travel sector – Future of social media 31 Conclusion and getting started 32 How can Headstream help? 33 Sources C ontents www . h eadstrea m . co m
  3. 3. p age 3 1 • Executive Summary This white paper has been created by Headstream to assist travel sector marketers as they plan their strategies and budgets for 2013. It provides timely information, case studies, insights, trend predictions, and practical advice to assist travel brands as they consider how social media can support their business goals. The paper has five main sections: • an overview of the broader backdrop within the travel sector, • what we can learn about the current social media performance of travel brands from Headstream’s 2012 Social Brands 100 ranking, • current consumer behaviour and case studies illustrating how travel brands are responding to the challenges and opportunities presented by social media, • seven future trends that the travel sector should be aware of and planning for, and • conclusions and how to ‘Get Started’ with the planning process. Look out for our ‘Key Questions’ sections throughout. These summarise the questions marketing teams should pose as they integrate social into their strategy, and how Headstream can help. The summary below identifies the key findings and insights from the white paper. • UK travel and tourism businesses continue to operate against a backdrop of uncertainty caused by the UK’s double-dip recession, and the Euro-zone crisis • There is evidence that inbound visitors from stronger economies e.g. Russia, China, are increasingly selecting the UK as a preferred destination • Consumers globally are increasingly turning to the Internet, and peer- to-peer recommendation on social networks, to inform travel purchase decisions • Travel brands should be using video and image-based content more effectively to create engagement with their products and services, and the experiences unlocked by them • The customer journey has moved on from the traditional, linear ‘funnel model’, to a more complex ‘customer decision journey’ where consumers are influenced by multiple touch points. Digital, and particularly social media, has driven this change e x e c u t i v e s u m m a r y www . h eadstrea m . co m Consumers globally are increasingly turning to the Internet, and peer-to-peer recommendation on social networks, to inform travel purchase decisions
  4. 4. p age 4 • Savvy brands are increasingly curating user content rather than pushing brand messages • Post travel, humans become sentimental. Brand utility can be used to facilitate and tap into this sentimental activity in social media, providing a platform for memories to be stored in the form of words, pictures and video content • We will see travel brands experiment more creatively to further empower mobile users in an attempt to tap into their social networks • As more ‘open data’ becomes available, travel decisions will be considerably influenced by it. For example, crime data in-and-around hotel locations can be placed alongside all customer reviews. This data will be an increasingly important barometer to influence purchase decisions e x e c u t i v e s u m m a r y www . h eadstrea m . co m
  5. 5. p age 5 2 • TRAVEL SECTOR BACKGROUND The ongoing weakness of the UK economy continues to be the single largest factor for the travel and tourism sector as fragile consumer confidence, rising unemployment and higher propensity to save, hits travel spending by consumers. Adding to the challenge for travel and tourism operators in 2012 has been a series of major events that fell across the key holiday booking period: the Jubilee, UEFA Euro 2012, and most significantly the Olympics. These events, combined with the latest increase in Air Passenger Duty, have made demand even more difficult to gauge than usual. However, there have been encouraging signs that the spotlight on the UK from the Jubilee, and prospect of the Olympics, helped inbound tourism in the twelve months to May 2012. Over this period incoming visitors to Britain reached a record 12.3 million and visitor spend increased to £18.2 billion (Source: ONS and VisitBritain) So, while the spending power of the UK consumer remains limited the demand to visit the UK is high in emerging markets, particularly Russia and China, providing opportunities for airline and hotel brands in particular. According to VisitBritain statistics, Russian inbound tourism peaked in 2005-6 with almost a quarter of a million visits before falling to almost half that with 137,000 in 2009. A sharp rebound was noted in 2010 though with 170,000 visits and that upward trend is continuing. Online and social media will play a growing role in accessing these potential visitors from fast growing markets such as the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries. But increased Internet penetration, adoption of social media, and ownership of tablets and smart-phones is influencing every aspect of decision making amongst travel and tourism purchasers. According to research from travel search site, Skyscanner, online transactions continue to grow faster than any other distribution method, with air transport purchases online growing at 7.7% in 2011 and predicted to grow by 5.2% in 2012. travel sector bac k ground www . h eadstrea m . co m While the spending power of the UK consumer remains limited the demand to visit the UK is high in emerging markets, particularly Russia and China
  6. 6. p age 6 What is more significant is the consumer behaviour behind these figures, which is driven in particular by social media. A Skyscanner survey found that 34% of travellers say they decided to visit a destination suggested by someone they only ‘know’ online, and that eight out of the people think travel forums like Trip Advisor play an important role in travel recommendations. How travel brands get involved in the conversations between virtual ‘friends’ that are directing these purchase decisions is the crucial question for all travel marketers in 2013. travel sector bac k ground www . h eadstrea m . co m
  7. 7. p age 7 3 • TRAVEL SECTOR – SOCIAL BRANDS 100 INSIGHTS In order to understand how travel brands are currently performing in social media relative to other sectors, we have taken an in-depth look into the performance of travel brands in Headstream’s Social Brands 100 report. Social Brands 100 (SB100) is a global ranking of those brands that are leading the way in social media. Brands do not pay, or apply, to be considered in the ranking. The only way to participate is through a crowd-sourced nomination process on Twitter that establishes a long-list of brands. Analysing the intensity of interactions between these brands and individuals on social and digital platforms, and giving each one a Data Score establishes a shortlist of 100 brands. The final ranking from one to one hundred is then established by adding a score for each brand from an expert panel of judges. The sectors featuring in the SB100 are – Automotive, Charity, Entertainment, Fashion & Beauty, Financial Services, FMCG, Manufactured Goods, Media, Retail, Services, Technology, Telecoms, Travel & Leisure. For the purposes of this SB100 analysis we have separated out travel brands from leisure brands within the Travel & Leisure sector to create a travel sub- sector. The following section outlines this travel sub-sector’s performance by aggregating the Data Score from the nineteen travel brands that were nominated for the long-list (including the ten brands that went forward to appear in the final Social Brands 100). These brands are: BMI, British Airways, Cardiff bus, Chiltern Railways, Delta, EasyJet, First Capital Connect, Gatwick Airport, KLM, Mr & Mrs Smith, London Midland, Southwest Airlines, Torbay Bus Routes, TransPennine Express, Trent Barton, Watergate Bay Hotel, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Trains and WestJet. t r a v el se c t o r – so c i a l b r a nds 1 0 0 i ns i gh t s www . h eadstrea m . co m For the full SB100 report:
  8. 8. p age 8 SB100 ranked travel brands There was a strong representation from travel brands in this year’s Social Brands 100. The ranked travel brands were: KLM (#19) Trent Barton (#29) Cardiff bus (#45) WestJet (#55) Chiltern Railways (#62) Mr & Mrs Smith (#62) Southwest Airlines (#62) Virgin Atlantic (#71) Delta (#80) Virgin Trains (#81) Social Brands 100 analysed the social performance of over 300 brands in the period from January to March 2012. The full methodology can be found here ( methodology-in-detail/) and the report can be downloaded here (http://www. t r a v el se c t o r – so c i a l b r a nds 1 0 0 i ns i gh t s www . h eadstrea m . co m
  9. 9. p age 9 FACEBOOK The travel sub-sector scored better overall on Facebook than any other SB100 sector, outpointing its closest competitor, the Services sector, by a significant margin. Within this overall Facebook result travel brands score particularly well for ‘Fan Post Engagement’, a measure of how much interaction there is from the community when Fans post content, which indicates that there is a strong peer-to-peer spirit in these Facebook communities. Travel brands are also good at responding to fan posts directly, coming third out of all sectors on this measure and with Trent Barton, Cardiff bus and Chiltern Railways all appearing in the top ten for this metric across all SB100 brands. Looking at areas for improvement, the weakest measure for the travel brands was ‘Brand Post Engagement’, which measures the intensity of response from the community when the brand posts content. Our wider analysis indicates that this score could be improved by the introduction of more photo and video content on travel brands’ Facebook pages. Our research has shown that on Facebook, photos are most likely to generate comments from the community, and video most likely to promote shares. YOUTUBE Travel brands aren’t using YouTube effectively to create engagement. Overall the travel brands score less than half of the points of the top-ranked sector, Automotive, and only the Retail and Services sectors score lower. This performance suggests travel brands are falling behind in terms of quality of video content generated, and the interaction that creates. t r a v el se c t o r – so c i a l b r a nds 1 0 0 i ns i gh t s www . h eadstrea m . co m
  10. 10. p age 1 0 t r a v el se c t o r – so c i a l b r a nds 1 0 0 i ns i gh t s www . h eadstrea m . co m TWITTER Travel brands are outperforming on Twitter when it comes to the speed at which they respond to followers, and the number of times that third party @accounts are mentioned on their feeds. This shows that travel brands are generally playing to Twitter’s strengths as a platform that allows timely and authentic conversation between brand and individuals. Top performing brands on Twitter were WestJet, Virgin Trains and Chiltern Railways, which all appeared in the overall SB100 top ten of brands for frequency of mentioning third party @accounts on their own Twitter feed. However, the overall Twitter ranking for travel places it only seventh amongst thirteen sectors as the sector’s conversational ability is tempered by a weaker performance on content. Looking at both frequency of retweets from the @ brand accounts, and for the extent of @brand mentions (which measures a brand’s success in creating content that is shared) travel brands were below average compared to others. This suggests a greater focus on content strategies is needed, and creating content that is valued by the community would be a profitable area of focus for travel brands. GOOGLE+ Travel brands have not generally moved quickly to build community and engagement on Google+. Overall the sector ranks ninth out of thirteen, reflecting a below average performance in generating shares, comments or ‘+1’s’ via the Google+ platform. FOURSQUARE You might expect travel brands that are in the business of taking passengers from destination to destination to be enthusiastic users of a geo-location service like foursquare. However, patchy adoption of the platform means that the overall ranking for travel was fifth amongst our thirteen sectors. There are however some top performers on this platform, like KLM, that appeared in the SB100 overall top ten for effective engagement via foursquare.
  11. 11. p age 1 1 travel sector - current c h allenges and case studies www . h eadstrea m . co m The biggest area of weakness for travel brands is YouTube SUMMARY Overall, the travel brands ranked ninth amongst our thirteen SB100 sectors a below average showing. So what is the recipe to improve social brand performance? While each brand is individual in terms of its objectives and what constitutes a successful set of social media outputs, there are some general conclusions we can draw. Facebook is a clear area of strength. The travel sub-sector’s leading position is built on vibrant communities where fans both post regularly and converse with each other, and then the brands’ willingness to join the conversation. This existing strong performance could be built on further by creating brand content that provides high levels of value to the community, increasing levels of engagement via likes, comments and shares. The situation with Twitter is similar, where the content created by travel brands isn’t reaching as far, or being retweeted as often as in other sectors. This does not detract however from the focus on conversation and timely response, which has created strong communities that can be built on further. The biggest area of weakness for travel brands is YouTube where only two sectors score lower for the amount of views and comments generated. With video an increasingly popular format amongst Internet users (particularly on mobile devices like smart-phones and tablets) travel brands are risking losing out if their video content remains as ineffectual as it is currently.
  12. 12. p age 1 2 travel sector - current c h allenges and case studies www . h eadstrea m . co m KEY QUESTIONS • What proportion of your content created for Facebook is video or photography based? . Does your content fit into a broader content strategy that is founded on business goals? • Do you have monitoring in place to assess what content receives the highest level of interaction? • What is your strategy for YouTube, how can video be a more effective part of your content strategy? • Are you able to benchmark social performance regularly and use this knowledge to optimise activity? HOW HEADSTREAM CAN HELP • Providing regular social media performance benchmarking using the Social Brands 100 methodology • Audits and social analytics • Content, channel and community strategies and execution ? !
  13. 13. p age 1 3 4 • TRAVEL SECTOR – CURRENT CHALLENGES AND CASE STUDIES To put the current challenges for travel brands in context we have examined two areas: • the changes in the way that consumers make buying decisions, created by the influence of the social web, and, • the trends and case studies demonstrating current best practice, and an effective response to these changes. HOW TRAVEL BRANDS ARE EVOLVING TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA WITHIN THE CONSUMER DECISION JOURNEY In classic marketing, the customer acquisition process is thought of as a purchase funnel. Cold prospects are dumped at the top of the funnel through awareness campaigns and squeezed down via qualifying actions e.g. product brochures, sales calls, product demonstrations, and emails. Those prospects that were hot for your product went on to purchase, becoming a customer and then added to the CRM database. If the process was successful, marketers placed it on a rinse and repeat cycle. It was relatively straightforward. Unfortunately the purchase funnel no longer applies. In today’s world, media fragmentation and the proliferation of digital has resulted in an increase in the number of brands under consideration for consumers. As a result, the entire purchasing cycle has shifted. To respond to this shift, the funnel has been replaced by what McKinsey has termed the ‘consumer decision journey’. In today’s world, media fragmentation and the proliferation of digital has resulted in an increase in the number of brands under consideration for consumers travel sector - current c h allenges and case studies www . h eadstrea m . co m Source: Consumer Decision Journey. McKinsey Solution 2010. AWARENESS FAMILIARITY CONSIDERATION PURCHASE LOYALTY THEN: THE PURCHASE FUNNEL NOW: THE CONSUMER DECISION JOURNEY EVALUATE COMMIT EXPERIENCE INTEREST TRIGGER DECISION TRIGGER CONSIDER BUY
  14. 14. p age 1 4 travel sector - current c h allenges and case studies www . h eadstrea m . co m The consumer decision journey as illustrated on page 11 is largely influenced by digital - more specifically the social web – underpinned by social media. Social media has fundamentally affected the travel purchasing landscape and buying behaviour as consumers look toward reviews and recommendations rather than a brand’s own messages. In response to these changes, successful travel brands have re-aligned their marketing to adapt to the new consumer decision journey. Brands are frequently using social media to create more targeted and contextualized experiences when consumers are researching travel products and services, not only to remain competitive in the marketplace, but also to ensure they are delivering the right experiences at the right time for consumers. We have examined the social media marketing communication activity of travel brands globally over the past 12 months. To provide structure to the travel social media activity explored, we have segmented the examples featured into three key phases of the consumer decision journey: • Initial consideration – Trigger • Active evaluation – Information gathering, shopping and buying • Post purchase experience and advocacy
  15. 15. p age 1 5 Initial consideration – Trigger Social media plays an important role in the initial consideration stage. Here marketers have an opportunity to deliver value in the form of information and entertainment. The purpose of valuable content or ‘social currency’ during this phase is to generate earned media for a brand, achieving cut through in a crowded marketplace, thus reaching as wide an audience as possible. Images & Video content When in research mode travellers are looking for one of two things, an escape or new experiences. The challenge for travel marketers is to effectively inspire, educate, and motivate consumers triggering desire that ultimately leads to action. High-quality rich content such as video and images creates a lasting impression and forms an important part of travel marketing strategy. • As part of its destination marketing campaign, Swedish tourist board VisitSweden ( uses Pinterest, a content sharing platform. The tourist board provided beautiful photo content for others to pin on their ‘favourite destinations I want to visit’ boards boosting earned media for the brand. • Destination marketplace Airbnb ( borrowed the visual-based design of Pinterest and created its own Wish Lists on the platform to help navigate its photo content more easily. Allowing members to curate their own Wish Lists, and view and share other community member Wish Lists, stimulates earned media. • British airline Bmibaby ( and-photo-tour/) tapped into the photo sharing site Instagram and its ‘Instameet’ service. Instameets are local meet ups for instagram users, during which users partake on a photo walk around a city whilst taking photos and posting their experiences from the day, enabling live sharing with other members of the network. Bmibaby flew Instragramers from Holland to London to meet fellow London Instagramers so they could participate in a photo walk of London. The aim of the walk was to capture beautiful sights of London from individual perspectives using Instagram and the hashtag #mylondon. The content was then used as a visual destination guide on Bmibaby’s blog. The London meet-up was part of an ongoing exchange programme bmibaby ran with Instagramer groups throughout Europe. travel sector - current c h allenges and case studies www . h eadstrea m . co m casestudies
  16. 16. p age 1 6 • Flash Mob videos are now an extremely common form of teaser campaign to raise awareness and encourage word of mouth activity, but they are still being executed with great effect. Dubai’s International Airport (http://www., executed a flash mob in their duty free area featuring travellers and bystanders dancing to a medley of songs. The Flash Mob was sponsored by United Arab Emirates and the video which was seeded onto YouTube received over half a million views and become one of the ‘most shared’ and ‘most viewed’ videos for that week. • Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) produced a video content promotion ‘Couple Up To Buckle Up’ ( The activity was a 2-for-1 promotional campaign that specifically targeted couples. To get busy couples to connect, SAS split the campaign video in half and asked couples to scan two unique QR codes simultaneously on their smart phones in order to play the video. The two smart phones had to be touching side-by-side for the video to make sense and for the complete promotional code to be seen. • Tourism Queensland’s 2009 campaign ‘The Best Job in The World’ (http:// is one of the most cited examples for driving awareness of a tourist destination globally using social media (http://www. in particular video content. The campaign was based on a global recruitment drive to find an Island caretaker of the Great Barrier Reef’s Islands. The successful applicant would receive a six-month contract based on Hamilton Island with rent-free accommodation and a salary of $150,000 (£70,000). Those interested were required to upload a 60-second video application to, which was simultaneously placed on YouTube. The selection process comprised of online voting and formal interview in Queensland Australia for the final 16 from which a winner was eventually selected. • Outdoor adventure company EpicQuest ( video/) provided camera equipment to their heli-ski guests who were then encouraged to film their own experiences. The footage was then shared across various social brand outposts for a chance to a win a free heli-ski trip. travel sector - current c h allenges and case studies www . h eadstrea m . co m casestudies
  17. 17. p age 1 7 Branded Entertainment Branded entertainment is simply communication that plays on people’s emotions. If the content provides value in the form of entertainment then it will generate conversations and earned media. For marketers the advantage of branded entertainment is that you do not need huge budgets to reach an audience of millions if the content delivers true value. Multi-channel branded entertainment that incorporates social media and engages an audience on a deeper level helps build a brand in the mind of the consumer. • To promote its new bag-tracking mobile app, US airline Delta produced a video called ‘A Day in the Life of a Checked Bag’ ( watch?v=ocbxS5aWUSo). The video highlighted what happens to luggage as it moves from check-in conveyor belt to carousel pickup, giving a behind the scenes glimpse into the adventure of a suitcase. • US airline JetBlue produced an online game show ‘Get Away With It’ (http:// that was streamed five times a day for five days live from a New York studio. The series used gamification to engage consumers and promote its vacation packages with new media integration. The game show featured mobile and social media elements such as Buzzfeed, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and new app Viggle, and allowed viewers to check-in and earn points for watching. • Tourism Australia supported the New Zealand television series, ‘Judy Bailey’s Australia’ ( group-4899838). The show encouraged New Zealand travellers on Facebook and Twitter to share their own travel experiences. The series achieved its objective of igniting positive conversations in the form of earned media amongst New Zealand travellers in the social media space. travel sector - current c h allenges and case studies www . h eadstrea m . co m casestudies
  18. 18. p age 1 8 Active evaluation – Information gathering, shopping and buying Travel planning is both a critical and enjoyable process in which consumers become deeply engrossed. While in research and planning mode, consumers frequently read, gather and share travel-related content that has been created and influenced by peers rather than travel service providers themselves. User generated reviews help others learn about a travel destination, product or service, help them evaluate alternatives, help them avoid places they would not enjoy and also provide them with ideas. In a recent study by Lab42, 77% of travellers read hotel reviews and 62% read attraction/activity review. For travel marketers, the opportunity is to understand what motivates people to take action on reviews, influence the consumer’s information gathering process and provide utility in travel planning. Curated & Filtered Content With 81% of travellers finding reviews by other travellers more helpful (source: Lab42), it is little wonder that sites based on public reviews such as TripAdvisor ( are so popular and influential. For brands with a business model not solely focused on user generated content, but on high quality professionally produced content, the benefits of giving up editorial control of this content and encouraging the public to filter and curate brand owned content can produce valuable earned media. • Swedish tourist board VisitSweden developed a Twitter campaign called Curators of Sweden. ( The Curators of Sweden program lets ordinary citizens from Sweden take control of the official @sweden Twitter account for one week at a time. Each curator shares their own thoughts, stories and information to arouse curiosity and interest in Sweden. In less than six weeks the official Twitter feed grew to 26,000 followers from 120 countries and other countries tourist boards have emulated the campaign. • In a similar campaign to the Curators of Sweden, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company hosted Twitter ‘Global Guest Days’. Every Friday, the hotel handed over its Twitter account to a guest tweeter from an individual hotel or resort to get a local perspective from its global properties. • KLM Dutch airline turned to social media to launch its 4 new flight destinations in Latin America. The campaign ‘How Latin Are You?’ (http:// you.htm) used Facebook as a platform and tapped into a local resident at each destination who shared information and local knowledge with people wanting to travel there. travel sector - current c h allenges and case studies www . h eadstrea m . co m casestudies
  19. 19. p age 1 9 • VIP travel site Jetsetter developed a promotion for users to become a curator on the site. Using Pinterest as the platform, fans had to pin content from Jetsetter onto their own pin boards based on travel categories such as Escape, Adventure. ( The boards were judged and prizes were given to the curator with the most followers and re-pins on Pinterest. Influencers Social media has a huge influence on travel plans and ultimately bookings. Research conducted by travel site Where Are You Now (http://www.wayn. com), found that of those who used social media to research travel plans, only 48% stuck with their original travel plans. In more detail - 33% changed their hotel, 7% changed their destination, 10% changed resorts, and 5% changed airlines. Word of mouth activity in the form of reviews and recommendations (trusted sources) was cited as the primary reason for customers changing their minds. 92% of consumers say they trust earned media, such as word of mouth, above advertising. These trusted sources are being tapped indirectly via influencer outreach programs, encouraging influencers to produce content to be shared amongst their social network, helping influence others in their selection and purchasing decisions. • The San Juan Marriott Resort developed an influencer program ‘vloggers in Paradise’. Influential video bloggers were invited to create a short film in just 48 hours to highlight both the resort and Puerto Rico. Each video produced was screened at a dedicated film festival, where one winner was selected. All content was hosted on Facebook ( SanJuanMarriott?sk=videos). • Luxury hotel and resort ‘Marquis Los Cabos’ maximised the popular ‘Traveller’s Night In’ ( weekly Twitter chat by hosting a tweet-up involving influencers. The tweet-up leveraged top influencers around the theme of ‘Mini-Indulgences’ to engage tweeting travellers. The 90-minute event based on the hashtag #TNI generated close to 4,500 tweets and more than 1.4 million unique impressions. • Palms Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas introduced the ‘Klout Club’. High ranking social media influencers who visited the hotel received access to additional amenities during their stay, simply based on their Klout score. The campaign also encouraged influencers to share their unique VIP experiences at the Hotel and Casino on their social media profiles. travel sector - current c h allenges and case studies www . h eadstrea m . co m casestudiescasestudies
  20. 20. p age 2 0 Brand Utility – Travel Planning People with similar travel tastes can meet by using smart services that mix social, location and demographic data to match profiles. Travel brands are frequently developing applications in the form of brand utility, looking at member’s profiles both on their site and across the social graph, and linking people together based on interests, needs and location. Social Pairing • Dutch airline KLM’s Meet & Seat ( prepare_for_travel/on_board/Your_seat_on_board/meet_and_seat.htm) service encourages passengers at the time of online booking to share their Facebook or LinkedIn profile with others. Customers can then browse the profiles of those who have made their profile open for the same flight, and then select a seat next to the individual they find most interesting. • Invite for a Bite ( is a social network offering women travelling alone all around the world the possibility of dining together instead of eating alone. Both business and pleasure travellers can create an invitation sharing where they are, when they are available and what type of food they would like to eat. Friend data • German airline Germanwings developed ‘FriendFlight’ (https://www. a Facebook social booking application that enables users to find the lowest GermanWings airfares to visit their Facebook friends around Europe. • iPad travel guide JetPac ( is an app that lets users browse their friends’ public Facebook travel photos to provide inspiration for future trips. • Wenzani ( from Lonely Planet is an iOS app that allows users to access reviews and recommendations from a number of well-known travel publishers, as well as friends, in real-time. Wenzani taps into the recommendations of publications such as Time Out New York, Lonely Planet editors and friends on Facebook and Twitter and filters this content by a series of categories including entertainment and restaurants. • Facebook application ‘Uptake’ ( is a utility that taps into your social travel network on Facebook. If you are looking to find out more information about a travel destination, the tool helps identify those friends that have been to the destination you are researching and allows you to ask for recommendations and tips from those you trust. travel sector - current c h allenges and case studies www . h eadstrea m . co m casestudiescasestudies
  21. 21. p age 2 1 • Hyper personalisation trip planning site GoGoBot ( allows users to link to their Facebook and Twitter accounts. When users are planning a trip or require a recommendation, questions can be posted to the Gogobot community and at the same time to Facebook friends and Twitter followers. • Similar to Gogobot, Trippy ( assists in planning trips by pulling friend and community data together to form a detailed and customised travel itinerary. The application features a map that allows users to see where others have visited in the area, as well as checking out reviews and pictures. Personal data • Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions (in conjunction with airlines KLM, Air France, and Atout France) developed the Facebook application ‘What’s Your City Self?’ ( app_142225982540503). Facebook fans took part in a quiz to see if they are better suited to Paris or Amsterdam. Based on the results, they received detailed itineraries for that destination as well as pricing information. • US airline JetBlue developed ‘Getaways Granter’ (https://www.facebook. com/JetBlue/app_262509457134634) a Facebook app, it encouraged workers to use up their holiday time. Workers typed in their days off and chose from four different destination themes for their getaway. A custom video could then be sent to the user’s line manager for the getaway approval. Social Commerce Social commerce delivers the opportunity for travel marketers to look beyond just the sale and focus on both customer experience and transaction. As more and more consumers spend time on social networks and forums to search for travel related content, social commerce is being used by brands to maximise social media programmes at the same time as increasing revenue. • Dutch airline KLM set up a dedicated Twitter feed @KLMfares (http:// for its customers to help find out the lowest available prices on KLM flights. Prospective customers tweet their destination and dates. In response to each tweet, KLM replies with a link to the latest deals. • Groupon the group buying ecommerce platform, partnered with travel site Expedia to form ‘Getaways’ ( subscriptions/new) a daily deals service. The platform enables hotels and tour operators to offer daily discounts with the ability to make a large margin on the number of customers buying each specific deal. travel sector - current c h allenges and case studies www . h eadstrea m . co m casestudiescasestudiescasestudies
  22. 22. p age 2 2 • JetSetter ( a member’s only travel discount site provides private consultations with its network of 200 travel writers. Consultants are paired with members based on the compatibility of interests and personality. Consultants will draft itineraries and make bookings on behalf of their clients. • Latvian based tech company ( filters Twitter traffic to connect potential Twitter guests with hotels. Using the platform, hotels can send potential guests a tweet, provide travel information for a particular destination and send discounts and offers. • Similarly, TweetAFlight ( enables airlines to sell tickets via Twitter, offering an alternative solution to the go-to flight websites. The self contained, automated sales channel allows passengers to purchase tickets by replying to airline tweets with the command ‘buy’. Post purchase experience and advocacy More frequently travel consumers use social media such as forums and social networks to share and validate their purchases. 46% of travellers to hotels and resorts posted reviews of their experience. What is more interesting is that 72% of tourists post photos on a social network whilst on holiday, 46% check-in to a location whilst on holiday, and 70% update their Facebook status while on holiday (source: Lab42), indicating that the post purchase experience stage provides an opportunity to join in the conversation. This not only allows travel marketers to provide contextually relevant content at the time of update, but by providing an after-sales experience that inspires loyalty, they encourage repeat purchases and keep competitor products and services at bay. travel sector - t h e f uture o f social m edia www . h eadstrea m . co m casestudies
  23. 23. p age 2 3 Customer Service To establish long-term relationships and increase the lifetime value of each and every customer, marketers are looking more toward social media as a method of following up with customers beyond direct mail and telephone call centres. • Dutch airline KLM gathered some of its crew members together to promote its new 24/7 personal service ‘Live Reply’ ( live-reply/2562/) via social media. For a day they acted the part of a human alphabet, spelling out live replies to questions asked by their customers on Facebook and Twitter. • Social Brand 100 ranked Chiltern Railways ( chilternrailway) uses Twitter on a daily basis as a customer service tool. However it also recognises and rewards its customers on other social outposts. Using foursquare they identified the Mayor of Marylebone Station, Chiltern Railways’ London terminus, and rewarded him with switching on the Christmas lights at the station, publically recognising him as a valued customer. • Fairmont Hotels & Resorts ( shared a Facebook and Twitter fans and followers only coupon in support of ‘Social Media Day’ to provide a discount on services with their community. Advocacy – Travel Experiences & Storytelling Post travel, we humans become socially sentimental – 76% of travellers posted holiday photos to their Facebook page and 55% liked a Facebook page related specifically to their trip (source: Lab42). Brand utility can be used to facilitate and tap into this sentimental activity, providing a platform for memories to be stored in the form of words, pictures and video content. Brand utilities not only assist in building stronger relationships between brands and consumers, but develop a community of like minds and a repository of storytelling content used to target prospective consumers. • Luxury cruise line P&O developed Postcard Memories (https://www., a Facebook application that encouraged its community to submit their P&O memories accompanied by a postcard picture. Each memory was inserted onto a bespoke timeline building up a journal of user generated stories. (Disclaimer: P&O Postcard Memories was a project created by Headstream) travel sector - t h e f uture o f social m edia www . h eadstrea m . co m casestudiescasestudies
  24. 24. p age 2 4 Crowdsourcing & Collaboration Customer loyalty is predominantly dependent on trust. To develop trust within relationships, the key is to be open and honest, which in business boils down to transparency. Our networked world fuelled by social media has led to like minds connecting on topics of interest. For savvy marketers, tapping into the thoughts and knowledge of like minded communities has helped with current and future product development. On some occasions this has delivered tremendous competitive advantage. • Finnish airline Finnair developed ‘Quality Hunters’ (http://qualityhunters2. com/) in conjunction with Helsinki Airport. As part of the programme, the airline recruited ‘real people’ via social channels to help evaluate the airline and offer suggestions on how to improve its service. The activity has reached more than 15 million people, one of the travel industry’s largest crowd sourcing campaigns. travel sector - t h e f uture o f social m edia www . h eadstrea m . co m casestudies
  25. 25. p age 2 5 summary The complexity of the consumer decision journey forces brands to adopt new ways of marketing and this in turn will influence marketing expenditure. Rather than focus purely on the awareness phase, consideration now needs to be given to the whole process, ensuring that everything from information gathering, to post-purchase experiences and support are of consideration. For the travel sector particular attention needs to be paid to the role that peer-to-peer recommendation is playing in the purchasing, customer experience and reviews process. Travel purchases are particularly keenly researched and the brand needs to be on hand when a prospect or customer seeks to validate their decisions via social media. key questions • Does your social strategy deliver the right content, at the right time, in the right format for customers? • Does your marketing provide value of different kinds to customers e.g. utility, monetary, exclusive information, rather than simply pushing messages? • Do you monitor social media effectively, with the intention of joining conversations at appropriate times? • Are you listening to your customers’ post-purchase conversations, and facilitating sharing and customer care where appropriate? how headstream can help • Content, channel and community strategy development • Insights from social media monitoring • Creative campaigns • Community management • Social media training to up-skill in house teams travel sector - current c h allenges and case studies www . h eadstrea m . co m ? ! Travel purchases are particularly keenly researched
  26. 26. p age 2 6 5 • Travel sector - The future of social media So what is coming next in social media that will be of particular relevance to travel brands? The relationship between the travel and tourism industry with technology will grow ever closer. Social media, already an integral part of travel marketer’s tool kit, will become ever more important in the process of promoting services and developing more intimate relationships with customers. areas for further study and consideration To further continue the evolution of social media and create even greater value for brands, we at Headstream are looking into future developments within social media and the travel and tourism sectors. The following areas of research represent more promising possibilities: always-on marketing Media fragmentation, connected consumers, and the blurring lines between advertising and PR led Headstream to develop the Paid, Owned, Earned, Network and Borrowed media framework ( owned-network-borrowed-and-earned-media). This framework allowed us to help plan our client’s content distribution in order to generate earned media. For brands to be relevant and influence the initial consideration and active evaluation stage of consumers, content itself can be planned in an ‘always- on’ strategy ( for-always-on-marketing/). As opposed to just focussing on the BIG idea, marketers should be looking to focus on the LONG idea as coined by strategist Gareth Kay. Consideration is given to taking the consumer on a longer journey of engagement and loyalty over time, this is achieved via valuable pieces of content that stitch together to form a more compelling campaign. travel sector - t h e f uture o f social m edia www . h eadstrea m . co m
  27. 27. p age 2 7 Influencers and the Interest Graph Pinterest’s meteoric rise threw ‘interest networks’ into the spotlight and we will see more interest-based networks springing up. The life-blood running through them all will be Facebook and/or Twitter, so that users can achieve ‘look at me’, showing off to their social network when they discover ‘this is me’ content via their interest graph. Planning and creating content taking into account the interest graph and influencers will increasingly form part of a travel marketer’s activity. This is to ensure that the right content reaches the right consumer at the right time rather than a one-size fits all approach. Influencers, like most travellers, frequently update their social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. More consideration will be given to providing influencers with context rich content that will encourage them to share content when they are at airports, hotels and resorts, tapping into their social graph. Mobile We will see travel brands experiment more creatively to further empower mobile users in an attempt to tap into their social networks. Brands will continue to capture and share postcard moments by serving them up contextually relevant content that encourages the sharing of images, status updates and videos amongst social networks increasing word of mouth activity. Developments in mobile tech; for example using NFC (near field communication) and mobile as an authentication device for ticketing and to gain entrance to events and at the same time checking users in via social networks, is another consideration. People check in at an airport to receive their boarding pass and then move into the departure lounge and check in via Twitter, Facebook and foursquare. This process can be reviewed to achieve both actions at the same time. Social data, such as one’s own travel footstep map, can be shared with others using mobile and GPS adding richer content to travel resource and information sites/applications. travel sector - t h e f uture o f social m edia www . h eadstrea m . co m
  28. 28. p age 2 8 Interactive technology Exciting developments are happening on a daily basis in the areas of touch, gesture recognition, voice, face detection, eye tracking, thought and smell. All of these available interactions will have a profound impact on the way people interact with technology, so much so that in the not too-distant future, we will interact with technology in the same way we interact with each other – naturally. Voice activated search and auto-translation services will become more natural, allowing us to search for information by voice and translate customer reviews more effectively. Rather than using web based search tools for travel bookings you can use voice to search and retrieve data, similar to asking a travel agent in person. For example using voice commands you could ask “I’d like to go on a holiday to Greece between 12th-17th July, budget is £2000” and then context relevant results would be retrieved. Thinking beyond a mobile handheld device, Google’s Project Glass (https:// and Microsoft’s rumoured ‘Fortaleza’ Kinect glasses ( represent a world of possibility where digital data can be augmented in front of your eyes. Not only could the glasses help you navigate a tourist attraction, but automatically display user reviews, price comparisons and allow you to collect virtual gifts that could be shared with your social network. Augmented reality According to Victoria University of Wellington, in Tokyo 30% of bookings are carried out on the day of arrival via mobile phone. In the future when we point our mobile phone camera at the hotel, data will be automatically augmented on screen, for example pricing and customer reviews, without the need for time consuming search via customer review sites. Furthermore augmented content will be considered for all travel related collateral, for example brochures, tour guides and print ads. In the future users will be able to point their phone at an ad or image and receive immersive video and split narrative content delivering a deeper experience that can be shared or scanned to purchase immediately. travel sector - t h e f uture o f social m edia www . h eadstrea m . co m
  29. 29. p age 2 9 Connected TV and Apps Next generation TV known as ‘Connected TV’ leverages the power of the web. Going forward Connected TVs will offer travel brands a platform to develop applications such as branded entertainment and utility, allowing users to access content direct from the sofa in lean back mode. Branded content such as videos can be enjoyed and shared via social networks on a larger screen rather than limited to mobile and tablet screens. Data and the Open Web As more and more data becomes available, travel decisions will be considerably influenced by it. For example, crime data in-and-around hotel locations can be placed alongside hotel reviews. Virus and disease data can also be used to quantify risk for particular destinations. Transport reliability data for locations as well as airport delays or train delays for specific routes. All customer reviews and recommendations that are public can be used as a barometer that will influence purchase decisions. The ‘quantified self’ is a movement to incorporate technology into data acquisition on aspects of a person’s daily life in terms of inputs e.g. food, travel. The more a consumer opens up privacy in terms of personal data, the more targeted context relevant content can be. Those travellers who record all their flight and travel information will have more tailored or custom experiences based on their ‘taste graph’ so that content on sites can be served up to them. Customers who open up their profiles can be more easily targeted with offers and information via geo-fencing and targeting. Cross sharing of data between travel and other industries will also be important to find commonalities. For example an automotive company can share exactly what holidays or destinations a customer has been on and vice versa thus building a more detailed taste graph. Hunch (http://hunch. com/) already has an API test tool to allow users and companies to further understand the taste graph. travel sector - t h e f uture o f social m edia www . h eadstrea m . co m
  30. 30. p age 3 0 key questions • How informed, and agile, is your social media team to respond to new opportunities? • How does each marketing activity fit into a compelling ‘LONG idea’ for your brand? • How are your digital world and real world customer experiences being coordinated to create a cohesive experience for the customer? • Do you have a landscape of the relevant interest graphs for your brand? how headstream can help • Education and training to keep ahead of latest trends • Content, channel and community strategy and execution • Insights from social media monitoring travel sector - t h e f uture o f social m edia www . h eadstrea m . co m ? !
  31. 31. p age 3 1 conclusion Conversation around travel and tourism experiences is a powerful behaviour amongst humans. This is because these are some of the biggest ticket items purchased by any consumer, and because holiday and leisure is a precious time when emotions are heightened. Now that these conversations are proliferated and made public via social networks the challenge for travel and tourism brands is to become an authentic part of the conversation in order to raise awareness, prompt consideration, and improve customer experience. With such a wealth of conversation and content being created by the community everyday savvy brands are realising that the route to success is increasingly through curating user content, rather than pushing brand messages. getting started To make the most of these opportunities brands should consider: • making social media an integral and leading part of the marketing strategy, not an afterthought, • co-ordinating social media strategy and activity across departments that may traditionally have been separate e.g. marketing, customer services, technology, • introducing real-time social media monitoring, • creating a 24/7 capability to social engagement via content creation and community management. While these developments require significant time investment they will create a socially enabled retail organisation that is ready to face into the dynamic, highly informed and smart consumer of the social age. Talk to Headstream Twitter: @headstream Web: conclusion and getting started www . h eadstrea m . co m The challenge for travel and tourism brands is to become an authentic part of the conversation
  32. 32. p age 3 2 how can headstream help? Headstream is helping marketers across diverse sectors move beyond funnel-inspired push marketing towards engagement, and building win-win relationships with prospects and customers. We can help in the following ways: education We offer a broad range of training options, from simple best practice papers and briefing sessions to in-depth bespoke education programmes. We have experience of working with senior management on a 1to1 basis through to sales, marketing, customer service and HR teams. benchmarking Using our leading Social Brands 100 methodology we can provide regular social media performance benchmarking against your key competitors. planning We can help you get your thinking straight and work out how you’ll prove ROI. This is valuable before embarking on any activity or developing your social media strategy • audits and social analytics • insights from social media monitoring • content , channel and community strategy • influencer identification execution With seven years experience of rolling out successful social activity for national and global brands we know how to get cut through and build lasting communities: • creative campaigns • influencer outreach • community management • content calendars h eadstrea m www . h eadstrea m . co m
  33. 33. p age 3 3 about headstream Headstream is a specialist social agency and part of the Lawton Communications Group. For the past six years we’ve been helping brands like the BBC, Activision, and McLaren Automotive become more successful by embedding social into their marketing communications. Headstream is also the agency behind the influential Social Brands 100 ranking of high performing social brands. Find out more at we believe • Social is making marketing exciting again • Social brings brands closer to customers • Social should be simple • When we have fun with our clients, we do better work., or follow us on Twitter @headstream h eadstrea m www . h eadstrea m . co m
  34. 34. p age 3 4 sources FIGURES-SHOW-PROMISE-AT-KEY-TIME-9f83.aspx Travel Trends 2012.pdf business-travel.html travel-industry-video-0171437 statistics travel-industry-infographic/ travel-bookings/ the authors Julius Duncan – Tom Chapman – for more information Andrea Catt +44 (0)23 8082 8520 S ources | aut h ors | f or m ore in f or m ation www . h eadstrea m . co m