According to Skift, travel companies from tourism boards to hotels to airports are investing in social media as a means to talking with and engaging potential and current clients.
Successful examples include DiscoverLA’s #LAStory campaign, Travelocity’s recent #IWannaGo campaign, and Visit Dallas’ #DallasBIG photo promotion, but squeezing the most value out of those crowd-sourced posts to turn them into tangible profits is a much more difficult task, especially since hashtags matter more to marketers than consumers.
Some companies measure the value of a campaign based a CPM model (cost per 1,000 impressions) that mirrors traditional ad buys. For example, if a social media campaign generates 20 MM impressions at US$5 CPM then its value would be worth US$80,000 of paid advertising.
This is the strategy outlined by DiscoverLA’s vice president of digital marketing Bill Karz, who adds, “We understand that potential impressions are not all actual impressions. However, the same could be said for a 300×250 ad that shows up below the fold of a website.”
Others like Visit Florida are more concerned with increasing brand awareness and building their voice than exact impressions and impact.
“As a state tourism organization, our first priority isn’t monetization. We are a story teller that inspires people to book travel to Florida,” explains Visit Florida CMO Paul Phipps.
In both cases, travel companies can broaden the reach of their campaigns by aggregating and sharing the crowdsourced images in public arenas including websites, state welcome centers, and hotel lobbies.
Campaigns Turned Collections
One of several startups realizing travel brands’ need for such a platform is Tint, which counts Visit Florida, Travelocity, and Visit Scotland among its clients.
Tint collects social media posts across ten platforms based on hashtags, geofilters, and mentions. Brands can automatically add all posts to their collection, approve posts before their addition, or create filters that reject certain words or users. Brands can add sponsored content, logos, or call-to-action buttons to their displays.
Tint also functions as a full analytics dashboard by tracking social impressions, website visitors, volume of posts, and which influencers (based on followers) use a hashtag.
Travel companies currently make up less than five percent of Tint’s brands, but it’s a market that Tint CEO Tim Sae Koo thinks can benefit the most from such technology.
“Travel is very photo-focused and photos are one of the ways that people interested in visiting a place get a sense of its vibe. Reviews are text based and can only say so much; when you see people in authentic photos and all it takes is a hashtag to bring that content together then why wouldn’t brands do it?” asks Koo.
Koo also highlights the community benefits of engaging the customer as part of the brand. One challenge for brands is getting approval to use hashtagged photos on their own social streams.
Tint seeks to also help brands overcome this in the future with a feature that sends people an automated message asking for use permission. This is an alternative to Visit Florida’s method, which tries to raise awareness that all photos with the #LoveFL hashtag could be used by the brand.