From research and mid-travel engagement to post-trip reviews and feedback, social media has become an integral part of the travel experience. Travelers have become increasingly social, forcing brands to get creative with their marketing strategies. We’ve already seen some of the unique ways travel brands have leveraged Facebook to connect with customers; and now we turn our attention to Twitter.
According to a July 2013 study, 33 percent of analyzed tweets directly addressed tourism and travel professionals. The found that Twitter is mostly used by travelers to help organize a trip and finalizing the logistics of their travel plans — such as choosing a hotel, finding an activity, and calculating travel costs. Travelers also use the platform to share check-in activity, find travel deals, and share activity or attraction reviews.
So how can the travel industry capitalize on this engagement? Here are three examples of brands using Twitter creatively to connect with and inspire travelers.
Leeds Bradford Airport
The Leeds Bradford Airport (@LBIAirport) launched an app that shares arrival and departure information with interested parties. The app aims to enhance the customer experience by leveraging Twitter’s real-time capabilities. As a result, travelers can receive flight updates directly through their mobile device.
To take advantage of this, all an individual has to do is send a Direct Message to @LBIAirport with the word “flight” followed by the flight number. He or she will receive a confirmation immediately. Flight updates will then be shared automatically until the aircraft has either taken off or landed. Alerts can be turned off by sending another DM with the word “cancel.”
South African Tourism
In April 2013, South African Tourism invited 15 international travel bloggers from the iambassadors network to participate in the #MeetSouthAfrica campaign. In an effort to market the country as a tourist destination, the bloggers set out on four different itineraries covering all nine provinces of South Africa.
Participants revealed how they met and interacted with South Africa’s people, conveying an intimate, personalized story about their experience. As a result, #MeetSouthAfrica had produced more than 10,000 tweets, 89.3 million tweet impressions, and more than 3.7 million Twitter accounts had been reached. It’s considered to be the largest travel blogger event of its kind in Africa.
In November 2013, Loews Hotel & Resorts launched Social Reservations, a service that allows guests to book their hotel stays directly through Twitter. No calls or online booking forms required. Customers simply use #BookLoews in a tweet to @Loews_Hotels and a Loews Travel Planner will tweet a link to a secure chat connection to process personal and payment information.
“As we continue to evolve and build one our social media strategy, we are focused on meeting the needs of travelers throughout each stage of the travel continuum,” said the company’s Director of Social Media Piper Stevens. “When it comes to reservations, we recognize that giving consumers the option of booking efficiently on a network where they are already engaging on a daily basis is going to set us apart and grow our consumer base in a meaningful way.”
Of course, you don’t need to develop an exclusive app or whisk bloggers away on a dream vacation to succeed on Twitter. At the end of the day, all that matters is that you’re accessible to travelers on the social network. Twitter offers a variety of ways to showcase your brand or service, including Promoted Tweets. If you’re not sure where to start, talk to your existing customer base. Ask them what they’d like to see more of and how they can feel like a bigger part of the brand.
Jennifer Beese: Jennifer Beese has worked as a community manager and social media strategist. When she’s not writing, you can find her studying anatomy and physiology—she literally has a skeleton in her closet—or under the stars with her telescope.