Prepare for ‘book now’ on Instagram! It’s the social platform taking travel by storm | EyeforTravel

instagramIn a recent In EyeforTravel research paper they made one thing very clear – the photo-sharing platform cannot be ignored.

When Instagram launched back in 2010, it seemed like a great idea. By September 2011 it had 10m users and it wasn’t long before Facebook had spotted this fast-growing visually driven opportunity.

By April 2012, Instagram had been drawn into the Facebook-fold and has been pretty unstoppable ever since. According to recent EyeforTravel reserach, the fast-growing social platform has 400 million monthly users, up by around 25% on the previous year.

Another stand out number of the research is that 60% of travel companies today are including Instagram in their marketing mix, putting it behind only Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and LinkedIn.

60% include Instagram in their marketing mix

95% the number of marketers using Facebook

75% of brands incorporate social content directly onto their brand website

Source: EyeforTravel

Given how much travellers love to take snaps and how shareable Instagram had made this, not to Facebook’s vested interest, this isn’t surprising, However, there are some interesting developments on the horizon. According to James Quarles, Global Head of Business and Brand Development at Instagram: “Inspiring people to ‘Book Now’ on Instagram is already being adopted by the industry, including major hotel brands and airlines.”

The results, he adds, “are promising”.

Battling it out for marketing dollars

While it comes as no surprise that Facebook is the clear winner in the battle for marketing dollars (95% of marketers today use it), a number of newer networks are making inroads – Pinterest, Vimeo, Foursquare and Tumblr all make the top 10.

“Imagery is a critical part of the travel decision-making process and our research, which shows the rise of a number of sites specialising in photos and video, bears this out,” says Alex Hadwick, head of research at EyeforTravel.

Looking ahead, this points to growing opportunities for travel companies to engage in more direct marketing to consumers through social media channels. “They are also now able to close the loop, with several of these sites adding ‘buy buttons’ that can redirect to a brand’s booking pages,” says Hadwick.

The incorporation of travel companies onto social media is also happening in reverse, with brands placing social media directly onto their brand websites. Over three-quarters of those surveyed report that they incorporate social media content onto their websites already, and nearly half host blogs and videos.

Here is the link to the full report: Utilizing User Generated Content

Source: Prepare for ‘book now’ on Instagram! It’s the social platform taking travel by storm | Travel Industry News & Conferences – EyeforTravel

Social Media Challenges in Destination Marketing

Earlier this year, we celebrated Facebook’s 10th anniversary, LinkedIn boasted more than 300 million active users while TripAdvisor now has more than 175 million reviews. We have come to expect seeing travel & hospitality stakeholders managing accounts on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or even Google+. In other words, social media marketing has moved beyond bells and whistles and is now the mainstay of a sound digital strategy, along with having a transactional, mobile-optimized website and a clean database for frequent, automated emails and/or newsletters. But while social media is now recognized as important, in particular within the travel vertical, managing it remains a constant challenge.

BEST PRACTICES

During its most recent annual summit in Vegas, DMAI Destination Marketing Association International shared the results from a recent study conducted by Development Counsellors International, surveying more than 100 individuals responsible for social media marketing at destination marketing organizations across North America. Some findings were real eye-openers, confirming what many observers suspected: while social media are considered important for a majority, budget allocation remains marginal, at best.

Social Media Challenges in Destination Marketing image Screen Shot 2014 07 24 at 12.32.29 PM 600x391

This chart shows that 71% of destinations surveyed must deal with a social media marketing budget of less than 25,000$. Perhaps even more surprisingly, 99% of organizations have a digital marketing budget, yet only 60% have a dedicated envelope for social media activities.

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This second chart demonstrates beyond any doubt how social media are under-represented in the big picture of digital marketing budgets. Roughly 76% of destinations allocate less than 10% of their total marketing budgets to social media, regardless of the size of the digital marketing budget to being with!

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So how are social media budgets spent? Some very interesting findings here, shedding light on some best practices by destinations in their social media efforts. According to the survey, most popular budget allocations are:

  • 39% in paid promotion: promoted tweets, Facebook ads and promoted posts, etc.
  • 29% in content development: graphics, writing, photos and videos, apps.
  • 28% invest in Human Resources for engagement.
  • 18% spend on contest initiatives.
  • 13% spend their budget on monitoring tools such as Radian6, VocusSocial, Sysomos, etc.

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One eye-opening finding is that destination brands with intermediate social media marketing budgets seem to be the ones outsourcing this function the most. In particular organizations with budgets within the 25,000-50,000$ bracket, 83% of which outsource their social media activities, handing it over to agencies and/or freelance experts. We are not so surprised to see that destinations with the smallest budgets tend to keep activities in-house, since budgets are scarce to being with. Nevertheless, it is somewhat surprising to find out that virtually one out of every three DMO outsources its social media activities.

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Finally, when surveying what are today’s top social media challenges face by DMOs, again I was somewhat surprised not to see some concerns rank higher, i.e. maintaining engagement, or budget constraints. In fact, the biggest challenge seems to be one shared by many industries alike, and not just in marketing: time, or a lack therof. Over 30% of destination marketing managers identified time as a key challenge, specially with new social networks and mobile apps creeping up all the time and despite of softwares that help managing it all.

It’s no wonder the second biggest challenge is to stay abreast of new trends and technologies that can help making sense of it all. In fact, attending industry events, conferences and participating in various training and webinars is a key component of staying on top of evolving trends and finding out the tools and tech to help managers in their everyday chores handling social media activities.

Social Media Challenges in Destination Marketing image Screen Shot 2014 07 24 at 12.44.31 PM 600x78

One last word. Return on investment (ROI) is almost always a key performance indicator in most organizations, yet it remains elusive in particular in destination marketing, where direct sales are not core to their business model (compared, say, to a hotel, restaurant or transportation). Nevertheless, it’s surprising to see only 8.1% of respondents identifying this challenge as key. Does it make it less important to measure? Of course not, but it does reflect how difficult it remains to “prove” social media campaigns, and that destination marketing organizations have integrated different ways to address this concern in some shape or form.

via Social Media Challenges in Destination Marketing.

WIT – WEB IN TRAVEL : Facebook money-grab will boost rise in “owned” online media in travel industry

Posted on 12 May 2014 

DislikeTravel 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

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...

Logo Facebook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.”

via WIT – WEB IN TRAVEL : Facebook money-grab will boost rise in “owned” online media in travel industry.

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MediaPost Publications Minnesota Launches Largest-Ever Tourism Campaign 04/25/2014

by Tanya Irwin, Apr 24, 2014, 3:53 PM

Minnesota will spend $14 million over the next year promoting the state’s tourism offerings, the largest travel marketing campaign in the state’s history and a 65% increase over last year.

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

The campaign, “Only in Minnesota,” will span 14 states and provinces and includes four TV spots, a revamped Web site, outdoor, digital ads and social media: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Consumers are invited to use the hashtag #OnlyinMN to document their favorite Minnesota moments.

Tourism

is a $12.5 billion-a-year industry in Minnesota. Research shows that travelers want to experience new and unique things when they travel, which is  why the campaign features Minnesota’s distinct outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, and unique landmarks – differentiating Minnesota from other Midwest travel destinations, says John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism

“This new campaign is a movement that will highlight unique Minnesota attractions and engage consumers in conversation about Minnesota travel,” Edman says in a release. “This cutting-edge campaign allows our state to be more competitive, and grow tourism across Minnesota.”

In keeping with the “Only in Minnesota” theme, the campaign incorporates homegrown Minnesota talent, including local musicians, and writers. It was created by Minneapolis-based Colle+McVoy.

The new Web site, developed by BarkleyREI, is more mobile-friendly.

“Over the last several years, we have seen tremendous growth in visitor site traffic through mobile devices,” Edman says. “We need to meet travelers where they are, and that means being accessible on mobile devices and social media.”

Stone Arch Bridge - Minneapolis, Minnesota

Stone Arch Bridge – Minneapolis, Minnesota (Photo credit: Sam Antonio Photography)

With ad buys of more than $3.7 million over the next three months alone, this year’s effort is more than double in size and scope than last year’s travel marketing campaign. More than $11 million in additional funding provided over the current biennium by the Legislature has allowed Explore Minnesota Tourism to expand its overall marketing impact this year with enhanced reach across all four advertising seasons (spring, summer, fall, and winter).

The additional funding has also expanded the reach of the Only in Minnesota campaign  into target markets in six new states and one new province across the region, including: Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and Saskatchewan.

Explore Minnesota Tourism will also target new niche markets this year, increase international marketing, and develop additional marketing partnerships to enhance the impact of the state’s travel marketing campaign.

via MediaPost Publications Minnesota Launches Largest-Ever Tourism Campaign 04/25/2014.

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