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.

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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.

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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.

Travel Marketing the Social Media Way

Travel Marketing the Social Media Way

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By Ilya Albert, Published June 27, 2014

You would have looked for their advices on going to places they suggest and booking the accommodation there that they would tell you to be the best for you. The advent of the social media seems to have changed this concept completely.

Making Travel Plans from Social Media

As many as 40% of the travelers use social media for travel inspiration and 42% use it for planning their trip, says Trip Advisor. But what seems to be an important information provided by this travel website is that an overwhelming 76% seems to use social media platforms for sharing their travel experiences, Almost 91% of the travelers who take social media into account post photos there. Besides, many others also use social media platforms to post videos or write ups to share their online friends. Therefore, these experiences are surely going to impress others and influence their decisions in future while going for a trip.

Finding the Best Accommodation on Social Media

Worried how to find the perfect place to stay during your trip? Social media can help you in this process as well. Hundreds of hotels and timeshare companies are advertising on Facebook and other social media platforms. This provides you with the option of finding the best options for staying, which can make your trip an enchanting one. While you can go for luxury hotels, there are also budget options, such as timeshares and bed & breakfast inns, which can help you complete the trip within a short time. Check out different social media platforms for advice from the people who have already treaded the route you are planning to travel.

Social Media as a Travel Best Practice

According to LinkedIn, the integration of social media in the travel industry for marketing has been one of the best practices. More and more travel and tourism companies are engaging these days in the process of social media marketing. In fact, different governments are also engaging in advertising the places in their territories as the perfect travel destinations. Besides, these governments and also a few travel companies are providing different types of offers to the travelers. This is driving more and more people with every passing day to use these social media platforms for making their travel plans.Social Media becoming Important Travel Marketing PlatformTravel companies have already started taking the social media platforms seriously. They are planning special marketing programs on these websites. Many of them are creating pages of their own on social media sites, such as Facebook. They are using these pages to provide information about their offerings. Besides, they are also providing images and videos of these places to make the tourists more interested in them. Hence, many of these companies are finding that a large number of their customers are being mobilized from the social media platforms.

Marketing in the Social Media Groups on Travel

Have you already joined a social media website for making travel plans? Are you worried how to start with the process? You will find quite a few groups, which are engaged in discussions about travel. Join them. You can even ask questions to clarify your doubts or finding the best destinations. This is why many travel marketing companies also join these travel groups on social media. They find these a perfect place to market their plans. When you ask a question, they can answer it and, at the same time, publicize their offerings as well. This is likely to help them increase their business revenues significantly.Like any other process, travel marketing was also growing and transforming over the years. As social media became an integral part of the life, it entered almost all the industries. The travel industry was no exception as well. Social media has been utilized significantly. Hence, it has helped to take the process of travel a significant step forward.

via Travel Marketing the Social Media Way.