Tourism Social Media – The Need For Experiential Content

Tourism Social Media – The Need For Experiential Content

Tourism is out of the ordinary day activities of normal life. It is saved for, anticipated and remembered for years to come after the holiday is over. But what are they remembering… the hotel, the flight, the airline? Maybe…the experience…definitely. Tourism is experiential based.

So what attracts the potential customer to your product, service or activity? When they visit your website or read your printed marketing material, what is it that sways the decision to use your business over your competitors? The importance of having well designed marketing material, whether online or offline, and a level of integration and synergy between them cannot be argued. However, content is king. What does your content say to your potential customers? Is it generic marketing text that is not targeted to the behaviour and language of the target markets you are attempting to serve?

The use of images, photos and videos is essential in the tourism industry, where experience is everything. Interactive media formats are the perfect medium for telling the story, rising emotive decision making processes in consumers and creating a virtual sense of demand. The use of colloquial, descriptive, emotional and experiential text is just as important in spurring the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for consumers to purchase your products and services, or at least qualify your offerings to be in the final decision set.

Social media offers all tourism businesses the perfect platform to share and promote the experiential based tourism product through the use of interactive mediums. Image sites such as Flickr and video sites such as YouTube are obvious sites to utilise. Although not considered as a pure social media tool, these sites have developed over the past several years to include interactive and communication capabilities that are conducive to social networking. However, these could be considered the first steps of social media. In comparison to sites such as Twitter or Facebook which require a constant level of activity as far as engaging with the audience, Flickr and Youtube can be used simply as a platform for presenting interactive media about your business, the activities, accommodation, customers enjoying their EXPERIENCE. There is the option to engage with other like mined people and current and potential clients though the joining of groups, engaging with conversations and participating in the community – but it is not as essential in other social media platforms. And for this reason, these platforms are the perfect place to start for the novice, even the sceptical tourism operator to dabble with social media.

Here is a simple example of how an activity based tourism operator could utilise either Flickr or Youtube (or both) to build the visibility of their business, utilise experiential based marketing mediums, create a valued personal level of customer service and engage in a basic level of viral marketing: Let’s take the case of a four-wheel drive motorcycle operation. When the customer purchases or attends the activity, get their email address. Before, during and after the activity, take lots of photos and/or videos (basic digital camera is all that you need). Once the activity has finished for the day, upload the photos/videos from the camera to your Flickr/Youtube site – then email the customer saying thank you for using us and having a great time and inform them that you have posted photos/videos of them enjoying their experience.

This proactive level of customer support will impress the customer, leading to greater levels of satisfaction – developing a brand ambassador who will surely create a level of word of mouth marketing for you. But it doesn’t stop there – the customer will then view their photos/videos on the sites, they will have their experience rekindled and be likely to email and tell their friends of their experiences and direct them to the URL address where the photo is held – your Flickr and Youtube sites. Now you have the start of a viral marketing campaign, where the customer’s friends are viewing the photos/videos and spreading the word about your business.

If you are a tourism operator attempting to gain a greater market share, identifying methods to increase customer satisfaction and support and want to start engaging with social media, implement an experiential and emotional strategy to your online and offline marketing mediums – increase the use of experiential based photos and videos, utilise descriptive text and consider utilising some of the most basic social media tools to promote your business and brand.

Steve Wilson is the Director of Social Eyes Consultancy, a leading New Zealand tourism, internet and social media marketing consultancy. Concurrently completing a PhD in tourism marketing and management, a background in sociology allows him to develop business strategies and marketing activities tailored to the decision making behaviour of a business’s specified target market. Visit http://www.socialeyes.co.nz to learn more