Travel has changed drastically in the past few years. Sure, the hotel industry is hurting from the rise of peer-to-peer services like Airbnb — but that’s just the beginning. Marketing in the industry has changed in fundamental ways too. Brands hoping to capture the attention of travelers know that having a strong visual strategy is key. Anyone with even the slightest sense of wanderlust is sure to spend hours scrolling through Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook this summer staring at vacation posts from friends and colleagues — giving brands the perfect opportunity to connect with an audience that has likely already caught the travel bug.
But it’s not just about shares and likes — more than ever, people are relying on their smartphones to research destinations and book travel all over the world. This year, 51.8% of Americans who book travel online will do so using a mobile device, according to eMarketer, up 8% from 2015. Of those people, 78.6% will use their smartphone instead of a tablet.
As consumers increasingly treat their phones like personal travel agents, visual marketing is now becoming increasingly important for brands. Check out three travel brands that are nailing their visual strategies on the hottest digital platforms (think: Snapchat, Instagram and Periscope) of today.
JetBlue taps into foodie culture on Instagram
Since Instagram is a visual platform where users enjoy sharing photos of their meals, travels and friends, brands that clutter up user feeds with stock photos of their products or one-off promotions are likely to be glossed over. Brands that find success on Instagram are often the ones that utilize the platform in the same way that users do, whether that’s sharing beautiful imagery or posting a funny GIF.
Half the fun of flying to a new place is trying out the local cuisine — and JetBlue is capitalizing on that. The airline is tapping into the Instagram food-porn culture by snapping photos of some of the country’s best cuisine, everything from Brooklyn diner breakfasts to the most famous crab cakes in Charleston, often based off of recommendations from locals.
By focusing on food, the airline is not only posting pictures that jive with the Instagram aesthetic but it’s also providing travelers with useful information, all while cleverly reminding people that some of the country’s best eats are only a JetBlue ticket away. Tell me this breakfast doesn’t make your mouth start to water:
Royal Caribbean jumps into the Periscope game
One of the latest trends to take hold on social is live-streaming, with channels like Facebook Live and Twitter’s Periscope giving users the chance to broadcast whatever they’re doing in real-time. Live-streaming platforms can be great fodder for brands in the travel space since they allow users to virtually check out what a city, beach or other destination looks like – now. Travel brands in particular can benefit from platforms like Periscope by using them to give viewers a sneak peek into “exclusive” events happening around the world, like Paris Fashion Week or music festivals.
Royal Caribbean recently used Periscope to convince New Yorkers that cruises are more than just crammed ships with mediocre buffets. The cruise company sent a number of social media influencers on five of its cruises and had them Periscope their adventures, some of which included playing with monkeys in Barbados and riding natural water slides in Puerto Rico. Royal Caribbean then broadcasted these live-streams on digital billboards across New York City to show people just how exciting a cruise can be.
Marriott uses Snapchat to document the sights and sounds of cities globally
Unlike the more polished content normally found on Instagram, photos and videos found on Snapchat are likely to have a more carefree, in-the-moment feel since anything posted to the platform disappears after 24 hours. This can be great for travel brands looking to capture the essence of an experience — something that millennials are increasingly demanding from brands. For example, a Vegas casino could document what it’s like to party in one of its nightclubs using Snapchat, highlighting some of the best outfits, drinks and dance moves.
Marriott was one of the first travel brands on Snapchat, and the hotel brand is still using the ever-growing platform to connect with young travelers. Earlier this year Marriott spent a day in Philadelphia touring the city, and prompted its nearly 230,000 Twitter followers to head over to Snapchat to check out its “guide to the best of #Philadelphia.”
— Marriott Hotels (@Marriott) May 18, 2016
Travel brands have a unique advantage over other consumer-facing brands because they’re selling experiences over products. As more and more consumers — particularly younger ones — prefer to spend their money on experiences instead of things, digital communities allow marketers to show off what their brands have to offer in new and exciting ways.
Digital marketing has transformed the travel industry and smart brands are relying on lifestyle content and fan photos to show off their amazing hotels and locales. Check out our free guide: Creativity on the Fly: The Rise of Lifestyle Content for Travel Brands to learn:
- The importance of visual content throughout every stage of the travel journey.
- How to engage travel consumers across nine key digital touchpoints.
- Actionable tips and tricks to help you monetize your content across channels.