Like it or not, social media platforms are fast becoming the new guidebook.
We know they’ve got nothing on the physical act of holding a fat Lonely Planet guide in your hands and marvelling at all the lovely things you can do in your chosen destination, only to deface the hell out of it with a highlighter and pencil.
But travellers are increasingly turning to platforms like Instagram and Facebook to get inspiration and tips for their upcoming trips.
To find out what travel agents can do to use social media to their advantage, we spoke with Barry Mayo, TravelManager’s chairman.
Mayo told us that many travellers are looking to go beyond traditional travel experiences.
“Travel consumer attitudes are changing with an increasing number of experienced travellers wanting their travel experience to be at a deeper emotional and personal level,” Mayo told us.
“Many of these travellers are wanting more than a standard package or run-of-the-mill experience and want their itinerary to focus on a more authentic encounter when visiting a country, region or destination.”
This focus on experiential travel ties in with social media’s ability to make travellers feel as though the information they’re getting is coming from a place of authenticity.
“With social media being all about personal connection and sharing experiences, it is an important tool for engaging existing and potential clients through their path to purchase,” Mayo said.
“Within the research phase of a client’s journey, a good number are likely to turn to social media for inspiration, information, plus personal recommendations, which is why it can be an excellent medium for building awareness of a destination and the experiences it offers.”
According to Mayo, Travel Managers and its individual personal travel managers use social media to inspire and communicate directly with clients and potential clients in many ways.
Here’s just a few:
- TravelManagers and individual PTMs pages on social networking sites.
- Creating awareness for TravelManagers’ business model and the services and specialisations of its PTMs.
- Posting status updates or articles of interest on social media sites.
- Building networks through sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn etc.
- Maintaining blogs.
- Tweeting about TravelManagers and individual PTMs areas of expertise.
- Relationship building and generation of business leads
The real thing to remember when using social media to promote travel is to remember that it’s a means to an end.
“[travellers want] to connect [with a destination’s] history, people and culture with an emphasis on different areas of local life – be they culinary, culture, history, shopping or social activity – and be the basis for an authentic cultural immersion and physical interaction.”
“Their goal is to more deeply understand a destination’s culture, people and history by connecting with it rather just visiting. This can be summed up by “Live it, don’t just look at it!”