Instant Influencers in Travel & Tourism
The indisputable influence of the digital landscape on travel and tourism is well documented – we even gave our POV on the matter. Most DMOs, CVBs and COCs* have embraced this as a critical component to a visitor’s research and booking process and they're working to check (or have already checked) the boxes on building digital assets to inspire visitors to their destination. They've locked down their...
- responsive website, since we know more than half of travel research begins on a mobile device
- social media presence, especially on Insta, since we all want a piece of that sweet millennials-are-willing-to-spend-more-on-experiences pie
- digital marketing campaign with both programmatic display and native placements. Ideally, these both target potential new visitors known to be in the vacation-booking stage and retarget former visitors to remind them how much they loved their last trip and invite them to come back
- partnership with a local blogger to give tourists “don’t just visit; do what we do” insights
So much energy is spent getting travelers to book a trip that, once they arrive, it’s tempting to let your attraction and hotelier partners take it from there. But really, this is the opportunity to engage the visitors you worked so hard to attract through compelling content around their immersive experience.
Quick wins (aka things you should already be doing) include destination hashtags, Snapchat geo-filters and sharing UGC as a part of your social content strategy. Ready to do more? Here are some thought starters on furthering the value of your newfound content creators. (Spoiler alert: None of these ideas is a photo contest.)
Branded hashtags are great, but they do require basic awareness of your destination to become a marketing tool outside of your visitors' immediate networks. Encourage them to use more generic but frequently searched hashtags as well. Think #travelgram, #wanderlust and #wishyouwerehere. Once you’ve determined which popular hashtags best match your destination, create a hashtag starter pack and add them to your site so visitors can easily copy and paste into their posts.
Art trails. Beer trails. Chocolate trails. Blossom trails. Doughnut trails. Trails are all the rage, and for good reason – most of them are delicious.
Not only that, they're a great way to move travelers around your location, particularly to lesser-known destinations. Treat your Insta-worthy locations with the same care. Map out iconic places, along with any "takes a bit to get there but well worth the payoff" spots and send visitors on a share-worthy adventure.
Think Outside the Square
Content is not just pretty pictures. Consider what else visitors can do (and share!) on vacation.
- If your destination attracts a particularly active crowd (or this is a crowd you’re looking to attract), use apps like Map My Run to develop routes for runners and cyclists. Tie them to other aspects of your area – maybe a history bike tour or a run to a waterfall and back. Even better, get creative and spell out words or draw shapes or designs with your routes. Even the most serious of runners won’t be able to resist running on a heart route with your top attraction smack in the middle.
- Create your own badges in existing apps, like Untappd if you have a craft beer scene or Snocru if you have an area ski resort. Users will love sharing unlocked achievements, like X number of breweries or Y vertical feet skied. Or, if you've invested in an app of your own, add a gamification aspect to keep users engaged and sharing their progress during their visit.
“Do it for the Vine” was a movement not because teens necessarily like to make Walmart employees’ lives hell, but because “likes” are currency tied directly to our self-worth. And for some reason, jumping into the ball display at Walmart gets a lot of likes.
Give visitors the recognition they crave, without the threat of being carried out of Walmart on a stretcher (or by security), and not just on your website feed or social channels. Utilize TVs in your visitor center or even hotel rooms through their hospitality TV network. You can share images with your destination hashtag in real-time with current visitors.
If you have the resources and infrastructure, think even bigger – project these images on a building downtown each night or on a screen you put in a park. Public recognition will only further encourage visitors to share photos for that instant gratification of "fame," while you enjoy the longevity of their attention-seeking with content permanently shared throughout the interwebs.
Yes, some of these tactics do require an initial investment. However, if you provide explicit opportunities for visitors to create and share content that supports your narrative, they'll effortlessly extend the reach of all your digital efforts that led them there in the first place.
I mean, if you go on vacation but don’t post about it, did you even GO on vacation?
*Abbreviation overload! Here’s what we meant:
DMO = Destination Marketing Organization
CVB = Convention & Visitors Bureau
COC = Chamber of Commerce
Senior Account Executive