Selfies are increasingly spreading to many areas of our lives, including travel. Not just during our travels but even whilst we are planning them. In the last of our Selfie Series, we look at how the Hospitality and Tourism Industries can be harnessing the rise of Selfie Tourism and Social Media Pilgrimages as part of their Marketing Strategy.
Feel free to visit our first two Selfie articles: Selfie Culture – How it Affects the Tourism Industry and Selfie Culture – The Impacts of Selfie Tourism
Marketing to the Selfie Generations: Knowing the Main Players
The three main Social Media Platforms for sharing travel photos:-
Facebook Around for over a decade now, and probably the first social media platform where hotels, bars and restaurants created a Business Account. With 2 Billion monthly active users, and up to 3.5 Million photos uploaded Daily [1.] it is still worth maintaining and updating your Facebook page.
Especially as 1. it can be linked to your Instagram and Twitter Accounts, enabling you to post to all platforms at the same time and 2:-
- The Average Facebook user has 155 “friends”.
- The Average number of pages, groups, and events a user is connected to is 80.
- 350 Million photos are uploaded every day, at a rate of 4,000 photo uploads per second
- Every 20 Minutes, 1 million links are shared
- 72% of online users with an income of more than $75k are on Facebook.
- 82% of 18 to 29-year-olds use Facebook.
- 79% of 30 to 49-year-olds use Facebook.
- 56% of online users, aged 65+ use Facebook [2.]
That is a lot of business, and “Reach”, which can’t be missed!
Instagram has 800 million monthly active users and more than 40 Billion photos have been uploaded to Instagram so far.
Users are split almost equally across the first three age demographics; that’s your future and current markets
- 200 million Instagram Users actively visit a business profile every day
- Posts with at least one hashtag average 12.6% more engagement.
- Instagram videos get 2 times the engagement of photos than any other social media platform.
- 32% of all Internet users are on Instagram.
- 23% of Instagram users are 8-24 years old
- 26% of Instagram users are 25-34 years old
- 33% of 30 and 49 year olds use Instagram [3.]
Be aware, as we showed in the Part 2 article, that 20 & 30-somethings are using Instagram to help them search for, and choose, their next destination, hotel, restaurant or bar. This group actively use the Instagram Search Function to research a subject, or area, of interest. When they find photos they like they save them to their ‘Collection’ to go back to, when it’s time to book or plan their holiday.
Think With Google also advises that 50% of Millennials discovered a new travel company while researching on their mobile. The research also shows that “If they’re unsure where to eat, nearly half of people won’t search for a restaurant until within an hour of going. That number jumps to almost 60% for millennials.“ [4.]. Just imagine how important great, well hashtagged and labelled images on your Business Instagram Account can become in these situations. And not just to attract those who are thinking about their next holiday.
Who’s using Instagram well?
Starwood Resorts, a subsidiary of Marriott Hotels since 2015, has been using Instagram since 2014. In 2017, Starwood hired five Instagram Travel Influencers to promote their two Paris properties. [5.].
Photos and content about their stays were pushed on Instagram and the uploads were linked to a Booking App, which automatically sent details of how to book to anyone who ‘loved’ the image. Starwood Resorts saw a surge in new followers and now boasts more than 500,000 followers on Instagram.
Snapchat, the newest of the three main social media apps, already sees 100 Million DAILY users visiting and 7 Billion Daily Video Views.
- More than 400 million Snapchat stories are created per day.
- The average daily user of Snapchat creates more than 20 messages, or “snaps,” per day.
- 187 Million Active Daily Users
- 71% of Snapchat users are under 34 years old – backpackers and next generation of travellers with disposable income.
- 45% of Snapchat users are aged between 18-24.
- People under the age of 25 use Snapchat for 40 minutes on average every day, more than instagram’s latest stat for same demographic. [6.]
Whilst 45% of Snapchat’s users are 18 to 24 year olds, they are the travel industry’s future demographic and one that shouldn’t be sidelined just because they won’t convert to bookings right now. Certainly, backpacker resorts and cool, trendy bars and eateries will see a return sooner than high end resorts and hotels, from this demographic.
Who’s Using Snapchat well?
In 2016, only 28% of Marriott Hotels guests fell within the 18-34 year old bracket. The chain joined Snapchat in 2015 and worked with four Influencers on its first Ad Campaign. Their approach? Rather than feature their hotel, its amenities and facilities the Influencers referred to Marriott as facilitators of great travel experiences; via a comfortable stay [7.].
In 2017, Marriott Hotels again hired four Social Media Influencers to promote its Reward Loyalty Program. [8.].
“We only have a limited amount of time to capture your attention, so we felt like these Influencers have such a strong presence, they’re camera-ready, they have a built-in audience to really bring those brands to life” Amanda Moore, Senior Director, Social and Digital Marketing of Loyalty.
The three minute “Snapisodes” combined the Vlogging style of the Influencers. They were littered with references to the room upgrades or late check out options, available through Marriotts Rewards Loyalty Program. The Influencers also shared the “Snapisodes” on their own Snapchat profiles.
Social Media: A vital component of your Marketing Strategy.
All three Social Media platforms combined, probably cover close to 70% of the total traveller demographic. If not more. Even the Silver Surfers (over 60’s) have been increasingly setting up Facebook and Instagram Accounts. And many are journeying in to the world of Instagram and [9.] Snapchat in order to stay current, and in touch, with their grandchildren.
Whilst the two examples given above, were both already big players in the hospitality world. And with the Marketing Budgets to match. It is still possible even for small hotels, resorts, bars, restaurants and tour operators to grab a slice of the Social Media pie. Especially, if they keep in mind that:-
- 90% of information absorbed by our brain is visual information [10.]
- 70% of travelers with smartphones say that they have done travel research on their smartphone [11.].
- The numbers of people using “near me” in their search browser has increased 34 times over since 2011, and 80% of such searches are made on a Mobile Phone, whilst in transit or nearby [Think Google].
- 85% of Leisure Travelers decide on Activities only after they have arrived at the destination [12.]
- 53% of leisure travelers say they chose a travel destination because they want to visit new places [12.]
You need to secure a gallery of photos and videos, which will grab people’s attention and make them not only want to follow you, but visit you too. See the below examples from three of the post popular hotels/resorts on Instagram
Wanting to attract the younger crowds? then consider photos of a pool party, with novelty lilo’s and beautiful people having fun. It is all about capturing a desirable Lifestyle Image.
If you don’t already have any in your establishment, you need to consider creating Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat-worthy spots. ‘90% of information absorbed by our brain is visual information’; photos and images draw the eye. You need to keep that ‘eye’ on your account, whether with an engaging image or useful information provided alongside it.
Basically, it is vital that you ensure that your hotel, bar or restaurant are ‘selfie-desirable’. It may be a natural feature or one that you need to create specifically, to encourage your guests to pose and post. Get your uploads right and you can gain a great following.
Social Media Ready Photo’s & Posts on a small marketing budget:
- Ensure that your Account Business Details are correct and include your website address and cell numbers on each of your Social Media Accounts.
- Ensure your Social Media Accounts are synced to each other (saves posting on each one individually)
- Ensure that you let guests know that you have Instagram/Facebook/Twitter Accounts on your website.
- Research where your business features in the 4 Key Travel Moments, as identified in Think with Google [13.]
- Your photos should fit an agreed theme/style be it Desirable, Romantic, Cool, Chic, Unique, Quirky, Affordable Luxury, Funky Backpacker, Eco-friendly etc
- The theme/style should be decided, based on what will most appeal to your business’s target demographic – look to your competitors (for that demographic) and see which of their photos get the best engagement. Check out:- [14.] for inspiration.
- You may need to decide on a couple of themes/styles for your photos, if your desired customers come from more than one demographic e.g. A surf lodge may want to create photo’s and posts designed to appeal to Eco-friendly travellers, as well as featuring photo’s and posts designed to appeal to surfers.
- Look to your guest feedback or TripAdvisor reviews for photos, comments or mentions of particular staff, that your guests have especially appreciated, or that they comment on the most. Include photos of that/ them.
- Think about an engaging caption for each photo you post, and label it.
- Think about which Instagram hashtags to apply (travellers use Tags when searching destinations, activities etc in Instagram). You may need to agree sets of hashtags which are applied to particular photos/posts. And don’t to Hashtag your business/hotel name
- Choose trending Instagram Hashtags, as well as the less featured tags; so your images aren’t lost among thousands
- Ensure that you set the Location on your photo’s/posts
- Upload photos or videos of your bedrooms, the grounds, your bathrooms, your sumptuous breakfasts, cocktails, Sunsets or Sunrises, Wedding or party set-ups. DON’T forget to say what they are in the post content!
- No in-house restaurant or bar? Do you have a few near-by establishments you’d happily recommend, or that past guests have recommended in their TripAdvisor Reviews? Go and grab photos of them; the interiors, drinks and dishes. In the caption section list key information; such as their telephone number for advance bookings, proximity to your hotel etc.
- Repeat for local tour operators, if you don’t offer tours or don’t have a tour partner
“Nearly nine out of 10 travelers expect their travel provider to share relevant information while they are on their trip. And 67% of travelers feel more loyal toward a travel company that shares information during their trip, which improves their travel experience” [15.].
- Look to see if you are already featuring, or trending, by checking Instagram by the Tag or Places search option in Instagram. Encourage more by commenting on the post and sharing it on your Facebook page.
- Encourage guests to post their photos by offering incentives; perhaps offer 5-10% off their restaurant bill or entry to a weekly prize draw for the most liked images posted that week, using your location and specific Tags.
- Do you run a Employee of the Month scheme? Include a photo of each winner, doing their job; an action shot and a short explanation why they won, or what guests have said about them, in the photo Caption. This may encourage guests to comment or nominate.
- You may need a little help from your employees, their family and their friends to get the pilgrimage ball rolling. Encourage them to ‘like’ photos/posts and comment on it, to enhance desirability and onsite ‘engagement’.
- Consider inviting an ‘Influencer’, Blogger, Vlogger or online Celebrity to stay at your hotel, or visit your restaurant. As with the Selection suggestions, have a clear idea about the demographic you want to appeal to, and look for someone who matches that to feature your hotel or restaurant. Ensure that you have a clear idea, and agreement about how you want to be featured, and consider whether this should be detailed within a written contract. Manage expectations. In terms of your invitation and how many photos/posts you expect each day etc.
Can you afford to ignore the rise in Selfie Tourism?
The growth in the use of visual platforms, specifically Instagram and Snapchat is moving at a quicker pace than any other platform before them, such as Facebook and Twitter.
In the Philippines alone, Instagram use has increased 50% in the last year. Snapchat tripled in use from 6% to 20% between 2015 and 2016. And the younger demographics are showing a leaning towards trusting what is said by their peers online, rather than ‘official sources’ such as newspaper or magazine advertisements, or adverts on the television
Again, younger people are the more influencer-oriented group, trusting bloggers and peers rather than information from brands. The older generation’s ‘influencer network’ is still primarily friends and family. However, considering this group’s adoption of other trends, they may soon begin referring to social media influencers for inspiration and information [9.].
Academics may try to have us believe that Selfies and Selfie-Tourism have arisen because Millennials are a more narcissistic demographic than those who were born before them. But when you see statistics that show that the ‘Insta-Gran’ group (Instagram users who are 55-65 years of age) has grown to 20% of all of the Internet Users in the Philippines, you have to take notice.
“The rise of Instagram and Snapchat highlight how consumers are eagerly adopting visual ways of expressing themselves, as they embrace the ability to capture and share moments…..
Instagram is a place for highly-curated, enhanced images, whereas Snapchat is raw, in-the-moment and humorous.
Brands need to approach each platform individually to ensure the content created mixes seamlessly into the user-generated feed and maintains their own integrity.” Zoë Lawrence, APAC Digital Director at Kantar TNS [9.]
- Snapchat Gains Momentum – Social Media Examiner
- Facebook by the Numbers 2018 – OmnicoreAgency.com
- Instagram by the Numbers 2018 – OmnicoreAgency.com
- Think with Google: I want to go micromoments
- Influencer Marketing for Hotels: 4 Brands Who Are Crushing The Game – Social Tables
- Snapchat by the Numbers 2018 – OmnicoreAgency.com
- Travel Brands Are Missing out on Snapchat – Skift.com
- Marriott Rewards Is Giving 4 Influencers Spectacles to Make Buzzy Snapchat Stories – ADWEEK
- Snapchat and Instagram usage rises sharply in the Philippines as people migrate onto photo-sharing platforms – Kantar TNS
- 19 Reasons You Should Include Visual Content in Your Marketing – Hubspot
- How the Travel Research Process Plays Out in Time-to-Make-a-Plan Moments – Think with Google
- How Mobile Influences Travel Decision Making in Can’t-Wait-to-Explore Moments – Think with Google
- How to be there for micro-moments in the new travel customer journey – Think with Google
To win travelers’ business, you have to commit to being there and useful in relevant micro-moments across the travel customer journey and across devices.
The article encourages business to look for where they feature in the booking journey; do you show up in the search results, and where are you ranked compared to your competitors. Re-evaluate your content (Website and Social Media Accounts); does it appeal to the guests that you’re trying to attract. Links to the articles are given below in our Further Reading Section.
14. Top 100 Most Followed Hotel Instagram Accounts – Hermes Themes
15. Mobile Trends in Travel Decisions – Think with Google
21 Instagram Accounts to Follow by Sprout Social
Top 100 Instragram Travel Accounts – by Indie Traveller
25 Awesome Instagram Travel Photographers You Need to Follow – by Expert Vagabond
ATTA Launches Adventure Marketing Series with Report on Instagram Stories – Adventure Travel News
2 Easy Ways Tourism Brands can Engage Customers on Snapchat – Tourism School
Further Reading – Think With Google: