Three Ways Social Media Gives Rise to Mass Wanderlust

Wanderlust. You’ve probably heard the term, thanks to Instagram and droves of millennials getting it tattooed on their body. It’s also known as the strong desire to travel, and these days, social media only makes that desire stronger.

Everywhere you look, from Pinterest to Facebook; pictures of people taking selfies in to-die-for travel locations have become all the rage. But, how did this happen and what does it mean for travel brands?

Travel brands have always faced unique challenges in marketing compared to other industries. Getting consumers to part with their hard earned money for something they want (but don’t need) can be an uphill battle, especially in times of economic uncertainty.

However, with the rise of influencer marketing, digital media and social media platforms that rely heavily on imagery, savvy travel brands have soared to new heights. Here are three ways travel brands have captured their piece of the pie by creating mass wanderlust.

PUBLIC OPINION IS POWERFUL

Everyone likes to travel. We’re living in an information driven society, with millions of users checking their social networking sites before making a final decision on just about anything. Roughly 70 percent of the population is considered the early and late majority (also known as ‘followers’), when it comes to buying decisions and adopting new ideas. So, it stands to reason that seeing travel photos and locations posted repeatedly from multiple users on social media would eventually start to wear on even the most discerning consumers.

If you ever start to think that public opinion doesn’t sway buying (and booking) decisions, just take a look at Trip Advisor and Yelp. They have essentially become public forums where travel brands with the best reviews win, while the rest flounder.

Takeaway for Travel Brands: Don’t be one of the brands that flounder. The most effective travel brands stay on top of their reviews and establish personal communications with the reviewers, thanking them for their input and expressing concern for those who did not find their service ideal.

Poor reviews do happen and when they do they should be used as an opportunity to announce new changes in policy, renovations to existing structures or other improvements that would be of interest to the customer base. Pay attention to what your customers are saying in their reviews, and fix things promptly if they’re broken.

AN IMAGE IS WORTH MORE THAN A THOUSAND WORDS

Newsflash: most people don’t use travel agents anymore. The first thing most customers do is run to your website or Facebook page to see what you have on offer. What they’re usually in search of are glossy photos, virtual tours, reviews and travel guides, with images being one of the most powerful tools at a travel brand’s disposal.

Thanks to the power of imagery, and with no particular marketing strategy, Pinterest, the social scrapbook site, has become a powerful tool for travel brands seeking to market their services. And it’s effectively made the rest of us very, very jealous of those who get to travel the world. Wanderlust — 1, Daydreamers — 0.

Takeaway for Travel Brands: Keep your photo gallery at the “wow” level and make sure your photos lead consumers somewhere. A conversation needs to be opened to make sure product pages remain active on your site even after a product give-away, contest, or vacation package deal is over.

You could have 15 thousand pins with your photo, but if the link leads to nowhere, you will get absolutely nothing out of it. Make sure all of your Pinterest pins have a link leading to somewhere on your site, as well as a call to action. Sounds simple, but it’s often overlooked.

INFLUENTIAL BLOGGERS HOLD THE POWER

Influential bloggers have followers into the tens of thousands or more. And, surprise surprise, they have the ability to sway buying decisions.

Travel bloggers have become prime influencers on social media sites, creating large audiences, and lively discussions based on their travel experiences. Travel blogs are followed closely because they bring the beauty, the thrills, the insight and the humor of the travel experience into the home. They trigger the imagination and need for wanderlust in those of us who may be trapped behind a desk.

The effectiveness of influencer marketing is so great, that 75% of marketers now use influencer marketing for their campaigns.

Takeaway for Travel Brands: Learn to collaborate with influential bloggers. Although the majority of travel brand marketers recognize the value of popular bloggers, 69% stated they did not know how to use them.

Find the top ten travel bloggers in your niche, and build a relationship with them. Notice I didn’t say send them mass pitches or emails pitching your travel deals. Engage with them on a real, human level. Influencers in travel marketing often have their own agendas, which may not always coincide with your own.

Once you have rapport built, reach out to them individually to propose a collaboration. If your goal is to collaborate on guest posts with influencers, leave them room for creative expression as this is what their fan base expects. You might collaborate on a giveaway, a guest blog post or some other offer, but if you do it right, you stand to get your brand in front of thousands of potential buyers and make a new friend in the travel niche.

PACK YOUR BAGS, IT’S TIME TO TRAVEL!

We very much live in a culture of sharing, where anything worth talking about is on Facebook, Pinterest and digital media within a matter of minutes. The days of glossy travel magazines and brochures has come to pass, and the days of travel photos taken via selfie stick are ever on the rise.

Photos of cultural landmarks, beautiful beaches and rainforests are in our face now more than ever before, and it’s changing the way people live their lives. Smart travel brands are using society’s newfound wanderlust to boost sales and encourage travel.

A spokesman for Diamond Rentals, a travel brand in Gatlinburg, Tennessee explains today’s travel marketing climate perfectly;

“Travel brands need to realize that they’re marketing to consumers emotions and sense of adventure. To market travel in a ‘logical’ way can be a huge misstep. There’s a reason travelers (and wannabe travelers) love Pinterest so much; it quite literally paints a picture of what the experience is like. By collaborating with skilled travel bloggers, you’re not only getting in touch with a new audience, but also working with someone who understands the unique challenges in travel marketing.”

At the end of the day, travel is just another example of how social media has impacted our lives, our buying decisions and ultimately, how we spend our time. In this case, if photos of someone riding an elephant in Thailand is what it takes to get people off their butts and out having adventures, I’m all for it!