Role of Social Media Marketing in Tourism industry
Social media has become a platform that is easily accessible to anyone with internet access. Social media marketing refers to the process of gaining website traffic or attention through social media sites. Role of social media has grown at a rapid pace in recent years and most of the companies are using it on an extensive basis to generate leads and converting them to customers. The tourism industry was one of the sectors that benefitted the most from the internet and as a result Social media has become an integral part of tourism marketing.
Need of social media in tourism industry
The introduction of Social Media networks has revolutionized the industry. Now it is not only the “industry experts” that publish their reviews on travel related websites and channels but also the simple internet users that rate destinations, create content, write their reviews, exchange experiences, publish their videos and photos etc. Moreover the social networks made it possible to spread the information even faster and with less cost. The word of mouth has been proven an effective way to promote businesses and several viral marketing techniques have been developed in order to engage the internet users.
The social media networks are valuable tools for companies that belong to the travel industry because they can help them promote their services with less cost, attract user attention and above all generate buzz around their brands, services or travel destinations. With millions of internet sites, social networks, online booking engines and review sites, vacationers and visitors can now pick and chose where they want to stay, how they want to spend their vacations and find latest tourism pictures and videos that showcases the experience and real time view of the destinations.The internet and social networks have put word of mouth marketing on the forefront for tourism destinations and tourism businesses.
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Tourists are branding businesses
Vacationers and guests are now able to brand businesses through social media. In the ’80′s and ’90′s ad agencies were paid lots of money to determine the marketing message for a brand. With forums, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Flickr and Foursquare, the end user/vacationers are actually now branding businesses through their messages on social networks.This is a revelation in the theory of market branding. Businesses need to stay on top of their game to monitor and control the message that is getting out there and branding their business. Gone are the days where the business owner or the marketing director used to determine a company’s brand, today customers do it for them. For a small tourism business building a brand through their logo and tag line can help end users start the conversation about their brand. Managing online reputation for tourism business
Social networks are a great way to see how a business is really doing and it provides the stakeholders with some key insights into how they are performing. Usage of social networks to find out how users are branding their company, check and see if their branding message has struck a right chord with their target market etc are done on a day to day basis. Searching through twitter and facebook, reading on review sites like TripAdvisor will help a company to understand the customer experience. Many firms have now asked their customer service teams to understand and solve customer grievances if any to maintain their reputation. Social Media has changed the way Tourism business functions
Social Media also helps tourism businesses to sell their vacation packages without having to rely on travel agents and word of mouth. Destinations can be experienced before visitors arrive and vacationers can decide how they will manage their holidays.The message to the travel companies is clear “ Be the Change and start looking at how you are using your social networks to attract new customers, engage new and current guests and converting them into paying guests at your tourism destination and business.” Nowadays before planning any trip people visit various well known sites and read many reviews of various hotels, airlines, resorts etc to help them to make the right choice. Example of such a site is TripAdvisor.com which assists customers in gathering travel information, posting reviews and opinions of travel-related content and engaging in interactive travel forums. Innovation in social media strategy
Makemytrip has launched a social application called Tripalong which will help consumers to connect with friends while travelling.When users enter the details of their flights on the application, called Tripalong, they will get notified if their plans are intersecting with their Facebook or LinkedIn friends. Companies are now integrating their traditional marketing tactics with social media strategies and are defining their goals to maximize Return on conversation (ROC).They are also managing the legal, compliance and ethical challenges of social media through proper planning. All the firms in this industry have realised that social media marketing efforts must complement the search engine marketing and Paid advertising methods of promotion. Social media strategy has helped the companies in tourism industry in following ways 1. Build brand and location awareness
2. Protect their online reputation
3. Build lasting and effective communities that create online ambassadors and influencers through word of mouth marketing 4. Creates a customer service platform
5. Enables research and development
6. Drives leads and sales
Every company is increasing its social media marketing budget as they have realised that it is effective and a great source of enhancing popularity of their website. It also helps them to achieve great results at a low cost. This form of marketing would work well along with any other advertising campaign.