How Social Media Impacts Traveler Buying Decisions
Travelers interact with a number of brands, websites, and marketing channels during the booking process. They are surrounded by advertisements from hotels and OTAs that may appear on TV, on a billboard on their way to work, or even online as they read the news or watch a funny YouTube video. Travelers will also come into contact through emails they are signed up for and word of mouth through family and friends.
With so many points of contact, what moments are crucial for travelers on their journey to taking out their credit card and booking a room? Google analyzed millions of customer actions through Google Analytics and what they found may surprise you.
Grabbing Traveler’s Attention on Social Media
One of the first stops a traveler makes in their purchasing journey is social media. In fact, 87% of millennial travelers consult social media for travel inspiration. Google refers to this early social media use as an assist interaction, helping customers gain awareness of your brand.
The impact that social media has on travelers from the start cannot be overstated. 45% of social media’s influence on booking decisions occurs in the beginning of the traveler’s journey. During this time, travelers gain awareness about your hotel brand through your social media content.
They could also learn about your hotel by seeing their friends interact with your hotel on Facebook or Twitter. This is also where user-generated content plays a key part in either helping or hurting the traveler’s impression of your hotel. Travelers may look through content that was not carefully curated to shine the best light on your hotel and may show a more realistic version of what the traveler’s stay would look like.
You may not think there’s that much user-generated content out there for travelers to see, but, in fact, 97% of millennial travelers share travel photos. That’s a lot of content and it plays a crucial role in the purchasing decision. Travelers are far more likely to take the word of other travelers than what they see on your page.
Inspiring Travelers on Social Media
While the initial impact of social media on booking decisions comes as an assist interaction, social media also plays an equally significant role in the middle of a customer’s journey. By being active during the middle part of the journey, you stay top of mind, even in the presence of other channels like email marketing and display advertising.
The point of social media is to inspire travelers and make them dream of experiencing a stay at your property. Providing as much information to the traveler as possible about what their stay will be like will help them make an informed decision and start daydreaming about your hotel.
Share pictures of your pool area, breakfast options, fitness room, spa, or anything you can think of around the property. The more a guest sees, the more familiar they’ll become, making them feel more comfortable and connected with your property. In addition, we recommend sharing information about your local area. Many travelers are not coming just to hang around the hotel. They want to experience the local culture and explore new places. Posting about local events, festivals, and activities or locations unique to your area can make a great impact on travelers and inspire them further.
From Social Media to Direct Bookings
Perhaps most importantly in this path to decision, Google found that when it comes to travel, the last interaction before purchase is direct traffic to a website. Research indicates that 11% of social media’s influence on the traveler’s buying decision happens at the end of their journey, so by using social media, you can encourage travelers to complete transactions directly on your website – not on fee-charging OTA websites.
The easiest way to direct traffic to your website is by having a link to it somewhere on your social media page. Having a link to your website in your bio makes it easier for travelers to find and click, but you can also include the link within your posts.
It’s important to remember that most people use social media on their phones. You need to ensure that their experience being directed to your website is the same as if they were visiting on a computer. This means your website should be optimized for mobile booking. If your website doesn’t load or takes too long, you’ll be losing out. According to Google, 40% of travel and retail website visitors will abandon the site after three seconds if it doesn’t load – and 40% of those who leave won’t return.
You can even use Facebook to directly drive bookings. Visitors to your Facebook page can simply click a button to be directed to your reservations page. You can track how many people are clicking this on your Facebook Insights. This is a seamless and effective way to direct bookers to your website and avoid paying fees to OTAs.
By being present online where future customers are as they’re planning their trip, you can be a helpful resource on their journey. Plus, social media interactions can make you more memorable – even when travelers are sent messages across other channels by competitors. With booking apps and action buttons on your profile, it’s easier than ever to attract fee-free direct bookings on social media.
We know that as a hotelier, your schedule is filled with overseeing staff and making sure your guests are having enjoyable experiences at your property. You may find yourself with even less time on your hands with the staffing shortages the hospitality industry has been experiencing. However, this is not the time to neglect your social media presence. The number of travelers are increasing and you don’t want to miss out because of an inadequate social media presence.
Travel Media Group’s social media solution is perfect for busy hoteliers. We optimize your social pages so travelers can find you, regularly post engaging content that captures their attention and inspires them to book. Plus with ad spend, you’ll be able to reach your ideal audience with targeted posts to boost engagement. To learn how social media can drive more bookings for you, contact Travel Media Group today!