5 Reasons Why Travel & Tourism Destinations Need Social Media

I speak to a lot of travel and tourism destinations about social media, and often answer the same question, “why do we even need social media?” There are several reasons, so before I ever start talking about howyou can do social media, let’s focus on the why first.

Photo of marina at Patoka Lake, taken by Erik Deckers

Patoka Lake in southern Indiana

  • Generation Y loooooves social media. Last year, Gen Y outnumbered Boomers 81 million to 78 million in this country. And while Gen Y doesn’t buy as many vacations as Boomers, they ARE responsible for about $2 – $3 billion in spending each year. They influence things like the family’s car purchase, where the family goes to eat, and of course, where the family goes on vacation. Combine that with the fact that nearly 96% of Generation Y is on a social network of some kind, and you start to see who you need to reach.
  • Boomers are huge consumers of social media too. While Generation Y is the biggest demographic on Facebook (which will tip the scales at 500 million members in the next couple of weeks), the fastest growing demographic is women between the ages of 50 – 60. And they’re on the network telling their friends about their kids and grandkids, catching up with old friends, sharing glimpses of their lives, and of course, telling their friends where they went on vacation. And they’re sharing photos and videos of those memories.
  • Social Media is free. All of the major social networks are free to join, and free to use. You can join Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube right now, and get started. Of course, there’s a significant amount of time involved, but if you can find even 30 minutes a day to do your social media marketing, you’ll make a huge dent in your campaign, and be miles ahead of your competition. We’ll talk about how to do this in a future post.
  • Social media lets others do the work for you Facebook, YouTube (video sharing), and Flickr and Picasa (photo sharing) are all considered social networks. And they make it easy for people to share information about their vacation. They upload photos and videos to their sites, and share them on Facebook. As their friends see where they went, they think about going there too. So they’re doing your marketing for you via word-of-mouth. Cost to you? Nothing
  • Social media is about telling a story. People don’t want to see newspaper ads or read brochures. They want stories. They want proof. They want to know what other people are doing at your place. Don’t just tell people you offer water skiing or horseback riding, show them other guests who are riding horses or water skiing. Let your other guests tell stories about how much they enjoyed it. Tell people your stories, let your guests tell their own stories, and then share them through your social network. Again, cost to you? Nothing.

Social media is fast becoming the way people share information and news about themselves. We are becoming a society that values the opinions of our friends — and even online strangers — more than we value the marketers’ opinions. Social media lets you do all of that quickly and easily. We’ll show you how in the coming days and weeks.

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    About Erik Deckers

    Erik Deckers is the President of Pro Blog Service, a content marketing and social media marketing agency in Indianapolis, IN. He co-authored three social media books, including No Bullshit Social Media with Jason Falls (2011, Que Biz-Tech), and Branding Yourself with Kyle Lacy (2nd ed., 2012; Que Biz-Tech), and The Owned Media Doctrine (2013, Archway Publishing). Erik has written a weekly newspaper humor column for 10 papers around Indiana since 1995. He was also the Spring 2016 writer-in-residence at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando, FL.

    Comments

    1. Thanks Sally and Rodger,

      Rodger, that’s a good idea about non-destination locations, like the Days Inn, should also be using social media because if nothing else, it helps them win search so if someone is searching for a hotel near the airport, Days Inn would pop up.

      Sally, staffing is always a concern especially when it comes to social media because the learning curve is perceived to be so high (even though it isn’t) that people look at their already heavy workload and think “I can’t manage that.” However, the budget isn’t a worry, since all these tools and their plugins are free.

    2. Sally McWilliams says:

      Erik,
      Thanks for the excellent job of spelling out key tourism audiences influenced by social media. DMOs typically have budget & staff constraints, and need to illustrate the unique experience(s) their destination offers. This post will be very helpful for my tourism clients teetering on the social media fence!

    3. Eric,

      This is a great post and outstanding reasons why travel and tourism destinations need to use social media. I would go a bit further to say all hospitality companies that aren’t necessarily linked to a tourism or travel destination should be using social media to connect their patrons to nearby destinations of interest. For instance, a Days Inn at the Indianapolis International Airport, which has no apparent ties to destination points around Indiana, could use social media to connect people with those attractions. By connecting people and building community hospitality businesses can build a better base of consumers. Best Western is an outstanding example of this in play.

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