To Inspire than to Advertise: Reasons why the Travel Industry shouldn’t perceive Social Media as a Threat

The Internet: An Inseparable Part of Us

In this generation, if you learn that someone you know doesn’t have a single social media account at all, or hasn’t heard of or hasn’t used the Internet at least once in his life, you’ll find that very, very strange. Today, everyone seems to be on the Internet, on the social media, writing articles, posting pictures of themselves somewhere, tweeting and re-tweeting updates on the latest smartphone models, and, well, just getting involved in the latest trending topics online.

Social Media for Travel Industry
Social Media for Travel Industry


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According to Wearesocial.net’s January 2015 estimates, there are about 3.010 billion active internet users. A more reliable estimate would be Internetlivestats.com’s real-time count of over 3.204 billon internet users in the world. In other words, if there’s any place in the world where there are 3 billion people, it’s the Internet. The same report from Wearesocial.net reveals that of the 3 billion active internet users, 2.078 billion people are actively on the social media. Go to Internetlivestats.com and you’ll see a more surprisingly huge and growing number of bloggers, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, Skype users, and et cetera, every day.

To ordinary people (like most of us), these 12-digit numbers don’t usually matter. But to businesspeople, marketing firms, and traffic-driven companies, these number mean a LOT. Today, advertising and promotions are so common and widespread. There are ads and sponsored posts on your Facebook wall, on the sidebars of blogs, at the beginning of YouTube videos. Even ordinary people like us use our social media accounts to promote ourselves through selfies and completely detailed status updates. Through the social media we could also easily tell people that we’re having a travel sale on Saturday, or that we’re selling hotel vouchers for a reasonable price.

The Internet is a resource, a treasure that anyone can tap. It’s a place where billions of people gather every day, and consequently a place for many, many business opportunities.

‘If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them,’ As the Old Saying Goes

The people of this generation are becoming less and less physically mobile. Nobody goes to the city library anymore because they can buy and download books online, and read them in hand-held eBook readers. Very few people attend conferences or open-for-all forums or public discussions because they can watch live streaming videos online. And even fewer people bother buying or reading guidebooks because they can, after all, view and read travel guide published online by their friends, or through the posts of travel bloggers.

Also Read: 8 Reasons Why the Travel Industry Needs to Work with Travel Bloggers

The Internet, and the social media, in this case, has in turn, become somewhat of a threat to the travel industry. Who would want to spend time, money, and effort to explore the world, when they can recreate the experience in their minds through reading the blogs of various people, or through gazing at the photos of these places uploaded online? And indeed, many members of the travel industry might have perceived this threat as well, which is why they refrain from using the social media to persuade people to travel the world.

How do you implement Social Media Marketing
How do you implement Social Media Marketing

But here’s where they’re wrong. Although the Internet does make people less mobile, it also serves as one of the best methods to inspire or persuade people. With the right methods of promoting and advertising, the travel sector can use the social media to convince people to break out of their shell and travel—and the methods don’t necessarily have to be hard-selling slogans or logos.

There’s definitely no beating the power of the Internet, so there’s no point in going against it. And there’s definitely no point in resorting to old-school, traditional methods of promoting one’s self just because the Internet is perceived as a threat. You can’t beat the Internet, so join it. Utilize its powers and you will see that you can turn the tables.

Start with something new.

Although hard-selling and directly telling people to “hey, book a hotel at this place within this days and receive a discount!” can be effective, we have to consider that on the Internet, there are even more ways of getting people’s attention without resorting to hard-sell (or irritating your possible markets). Instead of getting people’s attention through all-caps, neon-colored texts and overrated slogans, use something that’s closer to the heart. Instead of forcing people to go to a place, tell them, instead, about the place, about its culture, and about the stories of the people who have been there or of the people who live there.

Instead of downright advertising, the travel industry should inspire people through the social media.

Instead of fearing that people won’t want to go to a certain place anymore because pictures and videos of that place are everywhere on the Internet, use that opportunity to move people. The Internet having the ability to make people less mobile, but it also nevertheless makes them more open to new ideas. Think about the billions of people surfing the internet, and think about what inspires them, and what inspires you.

Use Hastags to promote your travel business
Use #Hastags to promote your travel business

Create and Use #Hastags to Promote your Hospitality Business

The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet or any social media related post. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages but now its also being used by netizens in their social media posts on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms.

After all, although the Internet is a wide, wide, place, with very, very different people, at the end of the day, we are all moved by the same thing. Think about what that thing is, and you, as a member of the travel industry, will be able to find the Internet as a powerful tool, not just for convincing people to visit a tourist spot or book a hotel room on a peak season, but also for inspiring others to see the beauty of the world outside of all their gadgets.

Sources:
1. Kemp, Simon. January 2015. “Digital, Social, & Mobile Worldwide in 2015.” We are Social. http://wearesocial.net/tag/statistics/. Accessed September 16, 2015.
2. Internet Live Stats. http://www.internetlivestats.com/. Accessed September 16, 2015.

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