Other than commercial airlines, nothing has had such an astounding impact on the travel industry as social media. And millennials are in the pilot’s seat. According to statistics, 87% of the magic millennial market source travel inspiration from social networks.
Millennials are adventurous types with a thirst for knowledge. They may not put their trust in brand advertising, but they go crazy for user-generated content (UGC). And there is plenty of travel content doing the rounds on social media. 97% of travellers post en-tour and 75% post at least once a day whilst travelling.
An infograph published by Adweek reveals 87% of Facebook subscribers use the social network to search for travel ideas. As a matter of fact, 52% of them are dreaming about travelling whenever they hit the platform. Furthermore, 84% confirmed UGC has more influence on their decision making than an ad.
The power of user-generated content
A large percentage of millennials have lost faith in brand advertising. Even P2P review sites like TripAdvisor and FourSquare are questionable as they can be manipulated. The only real source for valuable information on the web is social media networks.
User-generated content on social media networks has become a valuable source of inspiration for travellers. The comments are mostly authentic and reliable, and the holiday snapshots of lush beaches, mouth-watering dishes and awe-inspiring landscapes stir up feelings of wanderlust in travel-hungry millennials.
Last-minute bookings are on the rise because millennials have a travel sickness known colloquially on the web as #FOMO – fear of missing out. People see a photo or video of a jet-ski in paradise and are immediately dripping with envy.
Millennials are not just looking to social media for inspiration, they also want to find authentic information they can rely on. Travellers want tips about where to go, how to get there and what to do when they arrive. UGC not only focuses on the travel process, but also the post travel experience.
Travel brands capitalising on social media UGC
Some travel and hospitality companies have been quick to promote UGC. Personal travel experiences is “earned content” and marketers can easily leverage this trend by sharing relevant content posted by social media users.
Hyatt Hotels capitalised on UGC with their #InAHyattWorld campaign on tumbler to show how they are caring for people in the community. The hotel chain picked up a shorty-award in the process in recognition of their efforts of generating social media engagement and raising public awareness of issues that effect people from overseas nations.
A brilliant example of creating social media content that directly involves travellers is the “Discover Your Aloha” campaign produced by the Hawaii Tourist Board and Expedia. Rather than panning across the landscape, marketers recorded a two-minute video that captured the facial expressions of travellers.
Budget airline Easyjet also involved passenger in their marketing content. The company was unsure how passengers would relate to the Generation Easyjet campaign which celebrated 20 years of the company. When customers were quizzed they revealed the campaign was a metaphor for their own travel experiences and reminded them of a time when overseas travel was expensive.
Social media marketing strategies for travel companies
The majority of millennials (78%) not only seek high-value experiences, they are willing to spend more money on travel than buy material products. Generation X want concerts, social events, cultural experiences and events of all kinds.
Brands can engage social media users to investigate new experiences by encouraging them to use branded hashtags when posting content. Travellers are already willing to share travel experiences online, but few of them are revealing how other travellers can have the same experience.
Whilst UGC significantly impacts travel planning, brands can tap into the culture of sharing by encouraging travellers to post content during the experience. Social media users are more willing to promote a brand and an experience if they are offered an incentive – which are easy to implement and does not have to be expensive.
Travel marketers have to look for ways of making your brand part of the social media narrative. Encouraging customers to post photos and comments about events you have organised can inspire travellers that may not have known about the event or originally planned it as part of their trip.
Content marketers should also be collecting comments and images across social networks to promote your brand’s travel experiences on your own blog and social channels. Connect with your customers on social media to receive updates and use the search tool to find relevant content.
From users discovering new destinations and experiences, reliable advice, deals and brands, social media networks is a hotspot for millennials to gather information and sources for their next trip. Travel marketers that are not leveraging social media to promote their brand are missing out on a prime opportunity to be part of the conversation.