New research stresses the importance of using authentic social media and marketing content for travel-related industries as they recover from the global impacts of COVID-19. Travel-centric brands face a “next normal” in a world where social media adoption and consumer expectations have increased exponentially.
The report, produced by PhocusWire in partnership with TINT, finds that many brands are experiencing a temporary spike in participation due to pent-up demand after more than a year of travel restrictions and extended lockdowns. Brands should use this opportunity to lay the groundwork for future success by building relationships, and thus brand affinity, with travelers.
“Now is the time for travel brands, and those with a strong reliance on tourism, to embrace this new paradigm and understand how customer expectations have changed,” said Sameer Kamat, CEO, TINT. “It has never been more important to articulate authenticity, transparency and trust across all marketing and communications channels.”
Key takeaways from the study:
- Assuring safe, flexible travel: Travelers and “staycationers” alike are seeking assurances of quality, safety and flexibility. More than 70% of travelers expect information about rebooking, cancellations and cleaning protocols to be readily available before they book.
- User-generated content over brand content: Content created by real consumers and trusted influencers alleviates travel concerns and aids in conversion. 97% of people who were influenced by social media had also discussed a recent leisure trip with a trusted source (via voice call, in-person conversation or digital methods like email or social media).
- Shoppable social commerce: Travelers who were influenced by social content were more likely to book through mobile or social channels. More than 30% of social media users will make at least one purchase directly through their social platform of choice; meaning that brands with emphasis on social media or digital marketing should also invest in social commerce and shoppable social technologies.
- Staffing relies on employee advocacy: In the face of “The Great Resignation,” brand trust is not only about marketing to the public, but also communicating with current and future employees. Employee advocacy is taking a step outside of human resources and moving closer to marketing and communications.
- Brand trust and affinity is the future of travel marketing: Trendwatching indicates six social-driven trends that will affect tourism and hospitality organizations for the next three years: social commerce, physical and digital accessibility, hybrid experiences, sustainability, the new business travel and hyper-personalization.
The report also considers the impact of COVID-19 on traveler expectation and social media usage, along with “The Way Forward,” a framework for the creation and application of social content by travel brands.
The report is available at www.go.tintup.com/ugc-influencing-activating-travelers-report.