Consumer engagement vital as ‘sheep now in control’

CONTENT and user engagement are key to driving a successful online marketing campaign in today’s dynamic digital media landscape, but local social media behaviour must also be taken into account, advise tourism marketing practitioners.

“The 60s-70s travel marketplace was so easy to work in, like pushing a flock of sheep through the door and repeating the process every year, but the Internet has completely changed the farm because the sheep are now in control,” said Damian Cook, founder & CEO at E-Tourism Frontiers, speaking at PATAcademy-HCD which takes place in Bangkok from June 17 to 20 (TTG Asia e-Daily, April 3, 2014).

Cook emphasised that technology and social media have given rise to user-driven business models and tilted the power balance in favour of the consumer, making information sharing and active engagement critical.

With one-seventh or 1.2 billion people estimated to be on Facebook, Cook urged travel marketers to think of the world’s biggest social network as a “potential source market”, alongside other social media platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Vine.

Despite its widespread use, Facebook, however, does not equally apply across the world.

Drawing attention to the popularity of different social networks in different countries – V Kontakte in Russia, for example – Jens Thraenhart, founder of Digital Innovation Asia, stresses the importance of “differentiating platforms for different markets” and “being locally relevant”.

Citing the example of China, where marketing potential is moving to second- and third-tier cities, Thraenhart commented: “China is probably the most complex market to market to…The rules of engagement on social media are different for Chinese versus Western travellers (TTG Asia e-Daily, May 27, 2014).”

He urged travel marketers to adopt a “dual strategy of clicks and bricks” to target Chinese travellers and singled singled out WeChat, which boasts 86 per cent of users based in China and a growing legion of some 40 million users overseas, as instrumental in communicating with Chinese consumers (TTG Asia e-Daily, May 28, 2014).

Its wide-ranging features, including text and hold-to-talk messaging, and photograph, video and location sharing, makes it ripe for suppliers to build applications to engage Chinese travellers.

When enquired if travel agencies have a harder time leveraging social media than DMOs and NTOs, E-Tourism Frontiers’ market development manager, Zeina Rifai, disagreed and urged travel consultants to instead build on their “brand awareness” to gain an upper hand over competitors by offering up-to-date news and insider knowledge to turn followers into loyal fans.

Read also
Content marketing key for travel businesses leveraging Google
Build your own online real estate

Sponsored Post