Did you know that 72 percent of consumers post vacation photos to a social network while still on vacation? Last November, Facebook revealed that more people share travel and vacations on the social network than anything else. That might seem hard to believe at first, but statistics from past studies support the trend.
Of course, photos aren’t the only things that draw travelers to Facebook. Many people use it to arrange or book travel plans, ask for recommendations while visiting new cities, or check in to local venues while traveling. Obviously this is great news for the travel industry, so why aren’t more brands taking advantage?
In 2013, Aoife Desmond, a team lead for the travel vertical at Facebook, said that travel is lagging behind other industries in “maximizing the power” of the social networking site for marketing purposes. This is obviously a big market to ignore, especially now that Facebook has put more emphasis on locations with features like Graph Search.
But while there is a lot of room for growth in this vertical, there are still hundreds of travel brands that have launched successful engagement campaigns on Facebook. We’ve highlighted some of the unique ways in which travel brands have leveraged the social network to connect with customers.
Ritz-Carlton Resorts of Naples
Here’s a great example of a brand listening to its fans. The Ritz-Carlton Resorts of Naples took to a Facebook Page to ask fans how they like their coffee. Fans who answered this seemingly normal conversation-starter then received a coffee delivered to their exact specifications — without asking — during their stay. This was a fantastic way to connect with potential guests and reward them with real-world personalization.
The hotel also makes a habit of responding to guest comments and interacting with fans often. It’s important to drive conversations regularly and not just when you want something in return.
Hosting contests on Facebook isn’t a foreign concept, but some brands go above and beyond. In 2011, Enterprise encouraged customers to submit stories on Facebook about their favorite customer service experiences with the company. Fans then voted for the best submission and the grand prize winner received a year’s worth of car rentals and hotel stays. With customer service being a top priority for Enterprise, this was a great way for the company to solicit positive feedback which would then be seen by other customers, while also picking out its most passionate fans.
Today, Enterprise is engaging fans through its Ultimate Pick Up Moment challenge. Starting March 17th, fans are invited to vote for their favorite game-changing moments during March Madness. Each vote counts as a chance to win “awesome” prizes, including a trip to the 2015 NCAA Men’s Final Four. Through this campaign, Enterprise shows that it’s up on current events, knows who its target audience is, and can create exciting opportunities for customers. Just because you’re a car brand doesn’t mean all of your campaigns have to focus on driving.
In early 2011, when check-ins were the big social trend — JetBlue launched “Go Places,” a Facebook app that integrated with Facebook Places. The app would automatically reward TrueBlue members with free points whenever they checked in at an official JetBlue airport location. Fans could earn more points by being one of the first 100 to check in at specific airports. Five check-ins unlocked a deal to get $100 off a JetBlue Getaways package.
More recently, the airline launched a new sweepstakes called “Something Blue,” which provides a wedding in T5 at JFK Airport and a honeymoon from partners at Hawaiian Airlines. But that’s not all. The bride and groom also receive a dress, tuxedo, a wedding cake, rings, and much more. The first couple to win was married on October 23, 2013. Customers traveling through the terminal were honorary guests in addition to 20 of the couple’s closest friends and family.
National Geographic Travel
We’ve said it before, but it’s worth mentioning again: vibrant visuals are a powerful driver of engagement on Facebook. If your brand’s legacy is built on rich photography, regardless of industry, you need to bring that content to your Facebook Page. Considering National Geographic’s penchant for photography, it should come as no surprise that its travel subsidiary leads in terms of Likes.
NatGeo Travel regularly uploads stunning and attention-grabbing visuals. While this in and of itself is nothing special, the brand isn’t out for more than just followers. On Facebook, it’s looking for engagement. NatGeo Travel’s activity on the social network consists of regular engagement with fans through contests, polls, relevant and informative articles, and yes, stunning photography.
As you can see, you don’t need to have a gigantic budget or plan a wedding to find success on Facebook. There are several ways travel brands can engage customers on the social network, and features like Promoted Posts, auto-play videos, and Facebook Apps can help. If you’re not sure where to start, talk to your existing fans. Ask them what type of content they’d like to see more of and how they can feel like a bigger part of the overall 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.