Technological developments have changed our lives on many levels. It has changed marketing methods and proved that traditional advertisement needs a makeover. The benefits and pitfalls of electronic word of mouth (WOM) in the travel industry is already explained here. This post continues to describe the importance of electronic WOM and highlights how travel agents can implement user generated content (UGC) effectively into their own marketing strategy.
In the travel industry consumers are not able to test products so it is important to create trust and a good visual image of a destination (Yoo & Gretzel 2011). A picture tells more than a thousand words and Instagram is the perfect marketing tool to confirm this idiom. Instagram has a lot of opportunities for travel agents because the platform continues to grow, 62% of the users explore potential trips and 80% try to find new companies to connect with (Canadian Travel Press, 2018). Other interesting facts for companies are that Instagram is designed for mobile viewing and the high user engagement on branded content (Geurin & Burch, 2017).
The first step brands should apply when they start posting UGC on their Instagram page is to keep the brand identity in mind and to understand the online environment. This tackles a part of the control problem companies could face because they are able to select what they want to post (Geurin & Burch, 2017). The second step is using customers to tell a story and to build a lasting connection. There needs to be a balance between posting UGC and brand created content. Companies should always post high quality images/movies and constantly monitor what generates the highest engagement to see what works for them (Yoo & Gretzel, 2011).
In the beginning it might be a challenge to receive engagement from customers. Brands should create an easy recognizable #hashtag and encourage customers to use it and tag them in posts. In order for people to participate and build long lasting partnerships brands can initiate photo/video contest, use images created by customers and interact in the comment section. It could also be valuable to use celebrities and social media influencers. It is essential to find someone who can reach your target audience and someone who embodies your brand. Using influencers is still a grey area so start small and measure the effects via a call to action (Geurin & Burch, 2017).
As a bonus Instagram has a stories feature. This is a short video that stays on an account for 24 hours so it reduces the pressure of delivering perfect content. Travel agents can create a contest and let customers take over their stories during their holiday to receive more engagement. Additionally, they can use stories for polls to see what their audience wants (Canadian Travel Press, 2018).
If you are still not convinced to use Instagram as a marketing tool you will miss the opportunity to involve customers and achieve greater brand Loyalty.
Geurin, A. N., & Burch, L. M. (2017). User-generated branding via social media: An examination of six running brands. Sport Management Review, 20, 273–284.https://doiorg.proxy1.dom1.nhtv.nl/10.1016/j.smr.2016.09.001
TIPS TO GET STARTED: How travel agents can utilize INSTAGRAM. (2018). Canadian Travel Press, 50(30), 15. Retrieved from http://proxy1.dom1.nhtv.nl/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=hjh&AN=129182684&site=eds-livez
Yoo, K.-H., & Gretzel, U. (2011). Influence of personality on travel-related consumer-generated media creation. Computers in Human Behavior, 27, 609–621. https://doi-org.proxy1.dom1.nhtv.nl/10.1016/j.chb.2010.05.002