The Power of Social Media for the Travel and Tourism Industry
By Cam Edson, Social Media Intern
As temperatures steadily increase and vaccination rates in the U.S. follow suit, the travel and tourism industry is poised for a comeback this summer.
This week kicks off National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW), an annual tradition established in 1983 dedicated to the celebration of the travel industry’s positive impact on our economy, businesses and personal wellbeing. Following a devastating year due to the COVID-19 pandemic – during which travel spending dropped by nearly $500 billion – the seven-day commemoration will focus on the “Power of Travel.” The restoration of the travel industry wields the ability to re-energize our economy, rebuild the workforce and reconnect the nation.
That strength is slowly returning to the industry as more and more people receive vaccinations and regain confidence in their ability to travel safely. Travel booking apps like Hopper have tracked a nearly 75% increase in searches for late summer flights, while TripAdvisor, one of the world’s largest travel platforms, reported nearly half of survey respondents are preparing to travel internationally in 2021. And, as Americans gear up for their next vacation, they are turning to social media more than ever – with 51% of U.S. adults having increased their social media usage since the COVID-19 outbreak – for trip inspiration, recommendations and deals.
With more travelers scrolling through social media apps to help plan their getaways, FWV is looking to the power of social media to help its travel and hospitality clients attract overnight visitors and guests. Here are three social media trends to watch for this summer as the travel and tourism industry works towards recovery:
1. Locally Focused Content
While many travel-hungry tourists are ready to book the next flight out of the country, other Americans remain cautious, opting for an adventure in their own backyard. Content geared toward local and drive-time audiences is likely to dominate the travel and tourism social media landscape. Destinations can leverage local content by working with micro-influencers, highlighting hidden gems in the area and pulling user-generated content (UGC).
FWV worked with the Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau (WCVB) to create an in-depth neighborhood blog post, promoted across all social channels, that highlighted new happenings in Wilmington’s unique districts, off-the-beaten-path spots and the city’s storied history. We also continue to utilize UGC to give the WCVB’s social channels an authentic, insider feel and promote community-focused initiatives like #TakeoutTuesday, encouraging visitors and residents to support local restaurants.
For client Concord Hospitality, an industry-leading hotel management and development company, FWV consistently promotes “staycation” packages and exciting local events across social channels for individual hotel properties to attract nearby residents to the company’s various hotels and on-site restaurants and bars. Highlighting happenings in the local area helps properties entice residents looking for a safe and easily accessible getaway.
2. Short-Lived Content
Ephemeral content like Instagram Stories, which disappears in 24 hours, will be a vital resource for travel and tourism brands to help drive recovery. Instagram Stories’ quick and addictive nature keeps users engaged as they tap through short videos, photos and more. According to Instagram, 500 million accounts use Instagram Stories daily, and one-third of the most-viewed stories come from business accounts. With engaging features like polls, question boxes and stickers, stories are more likely to yield interactions between brands and users. For the WCVB, we consistently incorporate Instagram Stories into our content mix to promote feed posts, drive to video content and highlight different attractions and things to do for visitors.
According to Forbes, more than half of Gen Z consumers in the U.S. used TikTok last year, and the app is set to continue its upward trajectory and broaden its following. TikTok’s focus on storytelling invites influencers to take a creative approach in crafting travel-themed content. We foresee travel and tourism brands taking advantage of TikTok’s growth and working with influencers to produce inspiring travel videos.
3. Safety-Related Content
When promoting travel and hospitality brands in the midst of the pandemic, transparency is key. Despite many people regaining their travel confidence, it remains crucial for destinations to continue emphasizing measures they are taking to keep travelers safe. According to MMGY’s spring 2021 Portrait of American Travelers report, the perception of safety is still playing a role in many travelers’ trip-planning processes. For Concord Hospitality, FWV continues to promote the company’s cleaning program “PureStay” on property and corporate social media channels. By emphasizing enhanced cleaning protocols, the company is able to reassure guests they will be safe during their stay.
In addition, FWV client Visit Greenville, NC (the Greenville-Pitt County Convention and Visitors Bureau) has promoted outdoor activities across its social channels, utilizing both paid and organic tactics to showcase all of the socially distanced, open-air and outside adventures in which visitors can partake. Visit Greenville, NC has also featured restaurants, breweries, museums and other businesses that are Count on Me NC-certified, meaning they are committed and have pledged to follow North Carolina’s health and safety guidelines and best practices to create a safer, healthier environment for all residents and visitors in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
FWV recognizes the power of a good story, whether it’s delivered in a blog post, Instagram Story or TikTok video. Just like travel, stories have the ability to reconnect us with our friends, our community and our country. During NTTW and beyond, we’re using social media to tell meaningful travel stories and celebrate the “Power of Travel.”