After a decade of profound changes in the travel industry, it's no surprise that social media has become an important component when it comes to connecting with socially savvy travelers. Using social media as part of a multi-channel marketing strategy, travel experts are building relationships with consumers before they even walk through the door, empowering them to personalize individual experiences one "Tweet, check-in or Klout score analysis at a time."
The implications of using social media to interact and engage with travelers has a considerable number of marketing benefits such as building positive brand awareness, amplifying loyalty programs, driving relevant traffic to individual travel websites and beyond. Not only are big players in the space using social media as a means to build an online presence, but also as a tool to keep users actively engaged and loyal to the brands as well.
In May, Starwood Hotels announced a partnership with Foursquare allowing Starwood Preferred Guests to earn additional loyalty points and badges for checking-in to Starwood Hotel locations. Using this strategy, guests are engaging directly with the brand and spreading awareness every time they check-in. This loyalty based program, paired with the geo-location based service, is an innovative example of how traditional marketing tactics can be integrated with new web 2.0 strategies.
The Kissimmee Travel Bureau offers its guests the opportunity to be a blogger on the "My Kissimee Story" blog. Guests are given exclusive discounts to area attractions in exchange for sharing photos and a short personalized synapses of their experience. This provides a positive, engaging experience for the guests, increased brand recognition for area attractions, and great content for Kissimmee's Facebook page.
No longer do you have to be a celebrity, politician or professional athlete to receive preferential treatment during your stay. Before checking-in, this luxury hot spot in Vegas analyzes it's guests Klout Score to give away room upgrades, free tickets and more to it's most influential guests. This is a prime example of how hotels are devising ways to use Klout to deliver preferential treatment and rewards.
Have a great idea to integrate social media and travel? We'd love to hear about it!