Since the advent of the internet, the world of marketing and PR has been flipped on its head. With online ads and PR campaigns quickly gaining traction, new techniques became necessary for the travel industry to promote its products, services and destinations.

In recent years another new development has shaken up the quickly changing online landscape: the emergence and staggering growth of online review platforms, trusted influencers and a dynamic blogosphere. Read on to find out how these aspects have influenced the travel industry and how to best capitalize on the opportunities they bring.

To learn even more about these and many more exciting topics related to digital marketing, check out Asia-Pacific Conference & Expo 2018, on June 20 at the Landmark Hotel Bangkok. Tickets can be booked online now!

Online Reviews: Giving Customers a Digital Megaphone

Since its founding in 2000, TripAdvisor has become the internet’s largest online review platform. With over 455 million unique monthly visitors and 270 reviews left every minute, information on 7.5 million listings including almost every hotel, restaurant, bar, attraction and destination around the world can be found at the click of a button.

We all know the power of word of mouth. TripAdvisor magnifies this in hitherto unheard-of ways. Where people would previously tell ten to twenty friends about their recent travel experiences, they can now reach the over 15 million daily users on TripAdvisor and share their impressions, likes and dislikes publicly with a curious audience eager to collect information and make buying decisions based on it.

Looking at these numbers, it is not surprising that feedback on TripAdvisor can impact not only the success, perception and attractiveness of an individual hotel or restaurant but of entire cities or countries. Today, thanks to positive reviews and detailed travel tips left by the platform’s users, lesser-known destinations are experiencing increased interest, bookings and even return rates.

To achieve such results from TripAdvisor, it is not enough to merely get a few good reviews. Active engagement and presence on the platform are a must. Both businesses and destinations should have detailed profiles offering facts and figures about themselves and of course, update them regularly. Interacting with reviewers is the second piece of the puzzle. Thanking them for good feedback, apologizing for mistakes and offering to make up a bad experience are great ways for businesses to show they take an honest interest in visitors’ opinions and are ready to act on them.

Most importantly though, TripAdvisor is not a quick fix. It is a long-term investment in one’s image and needs to be maintained consistently to get great results.

Key Opinion Leaders and Their Role in the Travel Industry

While many travel and hospitality companies understand the importance of a social media strategy by now, working with key opinion leaders (KOL) too often still takes a backseat. In most cases, this is because marketing teams are not familiar with the ins and outs of working with online influencers or simply don’t think it would provide them a good return on investment. But this is where they are sorely mistaken.

Traditional ad campaigns are costly and time-consuming to set up compared to influencer collaborations, and often provide a lower return. This is due to several reasons. For starters, working with key opinion leaders is often less expensive than planning and creating advertisements be it for print, TV or online publication. In many cases, the budget for one ad could be used to run several campaigns with one or more KOLs.

Another reason KOL campaigns do well, is that they can be very targeted. When choosing who to work with, a hospitality company, destination management organization (DMO) or local tourism bureau, for example, can select a person who attracts their desired target audience. When publishing ads on TV or online, the viewers are often a lot more diverse and include many who would never be interested in the product.

Finally, when working with the right influencer or group of influencers, the reach and engagement of a campaign are usually significantly higher because the partner’s followers are very interactive and eager to listen to advice shared by their favorite online personality.

While some marketers might see this new form of promotion as an additional challenge, KOL collaborations bring huge opportunities with them. To best take advantage of them, it’s important to have decided what should be achieved with such a campaign. Based on this, influencers can be selected which match the brand’s identity, style, target audience and budget. Together with the new partner, a promotion plan should be put in place so both parties know what’s expected, results can be tracked and evaluated to determine if future work together is interesting.

As with TripAdvisor, KOL collaborations are an investment in raising awareness and boosting an image over the long term. A single campaign will show immediate results, however, they will not last if efforts to stay in the public eye are not made consistently.

Blogger Collaborations to Boost Content Marketing Initiatives

Another great way for travel companies to promote themselves and reach their target audience is by working with travel bloggers who frequently review destinations, properties and share experiences they had during their trips.

Since bloggers often write very detailed posts as well as how-to guides for destinations and share attractive images on their social media accounts, they can easily interest people in traveling to new places. When leveraged properly, this can help lesser-known cities, countries or even individual hotels attract a new market and gain new customers.

As with KOL campaigns, working with bloggers is frequently cheaper than traditional advertising and can result in content with higher-than-average engagement and conversion rates. This is because bloggers have an audience with clearly defined interests and a high degree of trust in the content shared. In turn, this makes them more likely to share it on social media and make bookings based on their favorite blogger’s recommendations.

To get the most out of this approach, a similar strategy to KOL campaigns should be employed on a consistent basis to ensure long-term results and a boosted profile of the business/destination among the target audience.

At Midas, we understand the importance of digital marketing in travel and tourism. This is why we are the official PR partner of the Asia-Pacific Conference & Expo 2018, an annual event dealing with the hottest issues in digital marketing, data and distribution. This year it will take place on June 20 at the Landmark Hotel Bangkok and bring together leading decision makers, entrepreneurs and professionals from the travel and hospitality industry in the APAC region. To book tickets or learn more, reach out to us by e-mail or visit the event website.