Influencers, UGC, and Video: Building a Travel Marketing Strategy

Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) of all shapes and sizes gathered this week in San Francisco to learn from one another about the newest technologies and strategies for marketing their destinations. My team and I were on site to hear what DMOs are focusing on in 2018, and I wanted to share some of the key themes with you.

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Here are some top tips for travel marketers to consider when building their 2018 marketing strategies:

  • Produce “snackable” content: By 2019, Cisco predicts that 80% of all consumer internet traffic will be video, and Forrester Research suggests that one-minute video is worth 1.8 million words. With more consumers watching video, and more brands creating it, DMOs, regardless of size, are eager to join in and create video in an affordable and easy way. Odyssey CEO Ryan Thompson introduced the idea of “snackable” content, which includes quick, short content that is not only easier to produce, but also easier to digest as a consumer and can be shared on social media. Thompson shared an example from Royal Caribbean, who produced an episodic digital program called “Royal Crush” to reach a younger audience with their brand and tell a story.
  • Find the character in your story: Your destination is not a character – your locals are the characters in your story. Also known as influencers, these “characters” help tell your destination’s story in an authentic way. Susan Thomas from the Huntington Beach Convention and Visitor’s Bureau shared their strategy of producing quick 10-second videos with influencers and locals sharing their favorite part about Surf City USA, which was distributed via their Instagram and YouTube channels.
  • Automate the search for user generated content (UGC): With the growing use of social media, any local, tourist or consumer can tell a unique story about your brand. Not only has the number of people sharing photos gotten larger every day, but the quality of images has also improved and DMOs can use this content in many ways to promote their destination without the time and budget typically required to produce quality photography. Dan Holowack from CrowdRiff called artificial intelligence (AI) and UGC a match made in heaven in his session, and suggests using AI to automate the process, because without it, he said sifting through and approving UGC can be a daunting and full-time task.
  •  Educate and inspire by focusing on experience: While driving bookings and demand is the ultimate goal for hospitality and travel brands, getting there might not be as easy as a “book now” button. Travelers want to hear about new experiences or unique places to visit, and our study proves that travelers prioritize experiences and activities over deals when looking to book a trip. Visit Stockton shared how they are using video to highlight events happening in their destination, and Amelia Island CVB works with local activity partners to highlight the unique experiences available on the island for travelers like boat trips and culinary classes.

There were plenty of other takeaways from the event shared on Twitter this week, so check out the conversation using the hashtag #eTS17 and follow us on Twitter to stay in the loop on the latest insights and takeaways.