Today, 41% of business travelers and 60% of leisure travel arrangements are made online. And when it comes to travel reservations for accommodations, tours, and activities, more than 148.3 million people go online, accounting for more than 57% of all travel reservations each year.
With such a vast majority of the population moving to online research and booking, travel and hospitality marketers need to get creative and understand what consumers are looking for to be able to stand out.
This is why, before we dive into the 5 social media contests you’ll want to give a try this summer season, it’s important to highlight a content strategy that emphasizes 2019 travel trends.
Social Contests: Trends, Examples, & Creative Ideas
Personalization is now a top priority in travel trends.
83% of Millennials said they would let travel brands track their digital patterns if this would provide them with a more personalized experience. This is significant and calls out the need for personalization within your content and messaging. People value a unique experience today, so make sure this is captured within your social media content and contests.
Your posts should balance experiences (things to do and see) both inside and outside the hotel
Give your audience something to get excited about, and convince them to stay with you over a competitor by giving them a glimpse of what kind of experience they will have in your hotel. Many brands get it wrong by just focusing on the outdoor sights and attractions.
For example, Mariott Hotels highlights its unique pastry experience their guests will receive:
And then beautifully showcases both the inside and outside experience in some posts:
Always post high-quality photos, you can’t get away with less in this industry
You are not just in competition with other travel businesses. Social media users around the world are posting their #travel photography on every platform, and have required brands to elevate their quality.
Here’s just a quick snapshot if you search #travel on Instagram:
Tell stories and add your personality to your posts
The company leading the way in the travel space for this last (yet essential) strategy component is Airbnb. They just do everything right, from sharing stories about the homes on their website to stories from their hosts and travelers, to painting an alluring story of what’s possible for your next vacation, Airbnb just gets it.
A few Instagram post and contest examples:
Okay, now that we’ve covered the must-haves for your content strategy, let’s talk about specific contest ideas to implement this summer.
Idea 1) A Photo Contest Where Your Audience Becomes Your Influencer
While many brands focus on influencer marketing in the travel and hospitality space, many seek accounts with hundreds of thousands and even millions of followers, hoping to draw in their audiences using influencers’, well, influence. But this is often a costly route that isn’t sustainable for smaller to medium-sized brands.
What can put smaller businesses on an even playing field with giants in the travel industry are known as “micro-influencers”.
A micro influencer is someone with an audience of around 2,000 up to about 50,000 on a social media channel. This type of influencer is powerful because they know their audience interests, typically have high engagement, are believable, and credible — people see them as an everyday person they can relate to.
“This type of influencer is powerful because they know their audience interests, typically have high engagement, are believable, and credible-“
What’s even more exciting is your audience has micro-influencers within it, and holding a contest that uncovers these highly influential individuals can bring just as much, if not more traffic to your brand when they post about you.
Now that we’ve clarified what a micro-influencer is and why they are a great, low-cost investment option, let’s talk about how to find them and simultaneously grow your brand’s following using a photo or video contest.
A great example of this contest idea was launched by Southwest Airlines:
At the beginning of the year, Southwest Airlines announced their Storyteller Contest where they would choose 10 winners to receive travel vouchers and rewards points to explore its top destinations and create compelling content from their experience on their social channels.
Southwest chose to hold the contest on Instagram. They specified that a contest entrant’s account needed to have 2,500 followers or more to qualify and they needed to submit a travel photo with an engaging caption and their contest hashtags: #SouthwestStorytellers #Contest. Using contest software like Woobox makes this type of contest much easier by automatically pulling photos or videos from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Displaying your collected photos in a highly customizable gallery to embed within any social media page is also another reason to use software like Woobox, creating a deeper engagement with entrants as they see their content highlighted on your social pages.
Idea 2) Boost Engagement Through Caption Contests
While this type of contest is not necessarily a new idea, it’s continued to grow in popularity because it has an automatic engagement benefit tied into it. This is particularly helpful for travel brands who are looking to increase their reach on specific platforms, knowing that the more engagement a post has, the more people it will be shown to.
For this contest to work effectively, make sure the photo you choose relates to your audience’s interests, and is attached to a specific sales goal (such as booking Caribbean getaways). Simply share the photo on your Facebook or Instagram, create a CTA asking for the best caption, specify a timeline, and post a second photo announcing and tagging the winners once you’ve picked your favorite(s). Using a comment picker will make this process much easier for you, especially if you receive 1,000s of comments.
Idea 3) Host a Daycation Giveaway
This is a fantastic opportunity for those in hospitality to get engaged with an audience who is right in front of you: the locals.
Everyone needs a break, yet many just don’t have the time within their busy schedules, especially parents. This is your chance to create an opportunity for locals to experience their city in a new and exciting way, and has them back to their normal schedule by the evening.
The Raleigh Hotel in Miami beach hosted their daycation giveaway offering 2 poolside passes and a $100 food and beverage credit to entrant’s who followed their Instagram page and tagged a friend in the comments of their giveaway photo.
Let’s say you want to host your giveaway on Facebook or another platform, you can use Woobox to easily create a branded giveaway landing page and entry form instead. You could insert the contest page in a Facebook ad, your newsletter, or wherever else your audience is at.
Idea 4) Polls to Promote More Personalized Travel Suggestions
Remember how we mentioned that modern travelers want and require personalization? Poll contests are a great way to not only cater to personalized interests but are also invaluable in gathering feedback that can guide your current product offerings or direct new offerings.
Using marketing software like Woobox, you can easily create a custom poll that offers a few options for entrants to choose from.
Here’s a great example of how you can create a custom poll from a Woobox client. The below poll was personalized by letting the entrant choose which hotel they’d want to stay at in the Bloomington area, and gave all winners a branded experience that they could share on their social channels.
Some examples for travel and hospitality marketers include:
- Showcase 4 different travel itineraries and have entrants pick their favorite.
- If you are a hotel, ask a question such as “what is most important to you when choosing your travel accommodations” and create options to choose from to learn what your audience cares about most.
There are so many ways to get creative with this type of contest idea and continue to promote to entrants after the contest has ended with messaging tailored to their poll choice.
Idea 5) Run a Co-branded Giveaway
You can even add complementary brands to create a One-Of-A-Kind Travel Experience.
A co-branded contest offers greater reach, new audiences, and a unique experience for contest entrants.
The Woobox example from our last point is also a great example of how partnering with a complementary brand can help you gain exposure.
Even though the contest focus is around the Mall of America branding, every hotel in their giveaway poll is gaining exposure and being discovered by new potential clients through the contest.
Some other examples of mutually beneficial contest collaborations include:
- A hotel partnering with local restaurants and bars to create a unique “foodie” experience
- An airline, hotel, and festival partnering to create a one of a kind music inspired travel experience
- An airline, hotel chain, and business partnering to create a unique travel job opportunity, similar to what Behr Paint launched earlier in the year. Behr Paint created a contest choosing one winner to travel the world to find inspiration for creating new paint colors and quirky names. The winner received all-expense paid flights, lodging, and prepaid adventures.
Recap: 5 Contest Ideas Travel & Hospitality Marketers Should Try Out
We mentioned that travel and hospitality marketers need to include 4 travel content trends in their social media strategy.
- Personalization must be a content priority
- Your posts should balance inside and outside experiences
- Tell stories and add your personality to your posts
- Always post high-quality photos
Then we covered the 5 contest ideas, which include:
- Running a co-branded giveaway with complementary brands for a one of a kind travel experience
- Using polls to promote more personalized travel suggestions
- Hosting a daycation giveaway
- Boosting engagement through caption contests
- Creating a photo or video contest where your audience becomes your influencer