Posted on 12 May 2014
Travel industry marketers need to be aware of the alarming changes underway at Facebook as it limits organic distribution in favour of paid-for posts, cautions Bronwyn White (pictured below left), co-founder of MyTravelResearch, a market research and marketing firm specialising in the travel, tourism and aviation industries.
“Due to changes at Facebook less than 4% of your company’s fans are now likely to see your company’s news and updates on Facebook. The change in strategy means that Facebook is diminishing your organic reach in favour of paid advertising. It is therefore time for tourism promotion bodies to start building their own online assets — and not acting as tenants without rights on Facebook,” she said.
“What many in the travel industry did not understand was that we were effectively acting as a tenant on rented space not a freeholder. The landlord could come along at anytime and increase the rent or start charging you for amenities. And if you can’t afford the increase, you might have to move out, use less space or have fewer amenities.”
White said that at first, entry costs were low (or non-existent) for social media and impact was high. Facebook provided an easy and quick way to build a tourism brand and a following online. With tourism being a cash-poor sector, this social platform was a panacea. But with posts now reaching as few as 4% of a company’s Facebook fans it wad time for tourism entities to diversify away from it. and build an online presence that tourism bodies own and fully control.
White gave four recommendations for destinations and tourism companies to achieve that:
Create an awesome, informative website or blog with images, videos, and the right tone of voice. Make sure it breathes your brand, which means knowing what your brand is and stands for.
Create content that helps customers at every stage on the path to purchase, from providing a trigger to travel to somewhere they can share feedback everywhere
Make it easy for customers and potential customers to book on your website. According to Tourism Research Australia, less than half of tourism businesses can do instant confirmation bookings on their websites while 10% do not even take email requests via their websites.
Create your own database that you own and control where you can communicate with your list.
She said social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ still have a role to
play in promoting a company’s blogs and videos. However, it is not advisable to build your entire marketing strategy on a platform that can suddenly be beyond your financial reach. There are free or cheap alternatives to Facebook, such as Google+, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
“It is time to move out of your rented space, get your own place and focus on building your own online real estate portfolio. Once you have done that, add to it on a regular basis, renovate occasionally to freshen up and regularly promote your hard work.”