Vizeum’s digital manager Bobbie Gersbach says social media has changed the way we holiday and explains how brands can get amongst it all.
It seems to be that time of year (i.e. winter) where 95% of my social feeds are populated by smug folk holidaying in sunny places on the other side of the world. Well pedicured toes in the sand, #nofilter beach sunsets, Qantas Lounge check ins, etc. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
I’m not claiming to be exempt from this urge to Instagram my little heart out whenever I realise I’m in reach of free wi-fi on holidays (the dream). It may just make everyone else’s summer holiday snaps all the more noticeable when I’m back in the real world.
The point is, social networks have changed the way we holiday – including the planning, the anticipation, the holiday experience itself and the post-holiday re-entry. Facebook and Instagram in particular have become personalised, intimate travel agents in their own right. It is no coincidence that you’re seeing the same places pop up so often in your feed. Post a stunning series of photos of you and your friends in Mykonos? That’s going to work a lot harder than a piece of traditional paid marketing, the proof of which will be evident within your feed in months to come.
Certain brands have embraced this shift in the holiday path to purchase, and have really used it to their advantage. Cape Town Tourism developed a Facebook app which mimicked what the user’s Facebook feed would actually look like on a holiday to the city. Not only was it a great way of showcasing the destination as per the user’s tastes, but it was also a very naturally shareable concept which overtly played off our tendency to flaunt our holidays socially.
Also using Facebook integration, Carnival Cruise Lines allowed users to define a few key holiday desires which fed into a ‘movie trailer’ of their holiday, pulling in personal details to ensure they were truly able to picture themselves on a cruise. Again, this campaign was very much born from the brand recognising Facebook as an essential holiday dreaming/planning tool for their audience (consciously and, at times, subconsciously).
A great indication of the validity and scale of this social holiday planning trend is Trip Advisor’s investment into their Facebook app. The Trip Advisor app is the 9th most used globally, with over 10 million monthly average users. It’s also fully integrated on site, which adds a powerful word of mouth layer to one’s holiday planning experience. It’s undoubtedly helping to combat the backlash the site receives over fake or jaded reviews – when the review is coming from your friend, it changes the game. Unbelievably, 90% of my own Facebook connections have the Trip Advisor app and I can’t see how that won’t change the way I aspire and plan to see the world.
Any brand with a connection to travel needs to think about how they can best leverage the holiday sharing which is organically occurring. Even brands outside of the category are recognising the huge opportunity. Telcos, for example, are answering the demand for overseas data both in terms of Australian and International businesses. You’ll notice that both Optus and Vodafone have been pushing their “$x/day” all-inclusive roaming packages in recent months, and overseas providers such as O2 are active in social media with clever, tactical communications:
There are of course challenges around this, one of which is the need for more of a global marketing approach than a siloed approach. The brands who can overcome this may hence be those who are here to stay.
In summary, if your friends aren’t seeing you living it up on #holiday, it may as well have never happened. Tongue-in-cheek as this statement may be, think about the last time you went on holidays and showed off your photos and experiences after you got back.