How five travel companies rock social media

Social Media for Travel Startups

Wish scrolling through those daydream-inducing travel photos on your feed could also make you better at your job?

Well, actually, it can.

Skift, a travel industry news site, announced winners of the Skifties, an annual social media contest. These brands stand out as the best in class when it comes to social media, from cutting-edge digital campaigns to trendsetting customer service.

Travel Startup Social Media Strategies

Follow these brands and you’ll get more than vacation ideas—you’ll learn best practices and ideas that easily translate to other industries. The full list of winners is available here, but here are five of our favorite social lessons from travel brands:

How to run a Twitter chat: Expedia

Twitter chats don’t work for everyone, but if you’re looking to centralize a conversation among your fans, Expedia’s weekly chat is the right model to follow. The travel site won Skift’s “Best Use of Twitter Chat” for its weekly #ExpediaChat, held at 1:30 pm every Wednesday. Setting the chats on a consistent schedule has trained participants to expect the event and return regularly, creating a highly engaged community.

Of course, incentives always help. Expedia gives out prizes and gift cards (often from sponsor partners) to people who tweet in. But incentives go beyond the giveaways. Other brands and bloggers have learned to ride the wave of engagement. More participation in Expedia’s chat means more visibility—and new followers—for all those involved.

How to work with influencers: Beautiful Destinations

With nearly 6.5 million Instagram followers, Beautiful Destinations claims to be the world’s largest travel influencer on the platform. The brand shares highly visual posts of … well, beautiful places around the world.

But the “influence” doesn’t just come from the site’s own network. Skift named the brand “Best Social Media Influencer” because of the work Beautiful Destinations does with other social media influencers. In a campaign dubbed the “World’s Ultimate Instameet,” Beautiful Destinations recruited top Instagrammers from around the world to visit Dubai’s 7-star Burj Al Arab hotel. The resulting social media posts reached an audience of 18 million people and saw online bookings increase by 38 percent.

How to use social media for customer service: KLM

We’ve talked about how Twitter can be a great tool for travelers looking for help. Now let’s look at the flip side: how brands use the platform for customer service. KLM’s #happytohelp campaign earned them Skift’s “Smartest Travel Brand on Social Media” nod this year.

The airline’s customer service efforts really kicked off when the Eyjafjallajökull volcano disrupted flights across Europe in 2010. To reach stranded fliers quickly, KLM realized quickly that it needed to be where customers are: on social media. Since then the company has worked to make its social media department a one-stop shop for customer service—whether it’s a passenger with a booking question or a flight delay issue.

How to optimize user generated content: Matador

How do you source a large amount of inspirational content? If you’re Matador, you ask your community to do it for you. Between blog posts, videos, and photography, the travel publisher leverages its fans, MatadorU students, and other travel influencers to create a rich, experience-driven travel site. As a result, Skift calls it the “most effective travel media brand on social media.”

The brand’s #TravelStoke hashtag pulls in hundreds of thousands of posts from eager travelers hoping Matador will pick up their content. The key to it all is Matador’s finessed curation—just because the company receives thousands of submissions doesn’t mean it needs to use them. By surfacing the best user-generated content, the site maintains a high quality look and attracts partnerships with big-name brands.

How to create an innovative campaign: Iceland

Iceland is a place where bars honor Chuck Norris and the Big Lebowski, a museum is dedicated to the male genitalia, and a sizeable portion of the population believes in elves. So it’s fitting that the country’s tourism marketing efforts take on a quirky spin.

The most recent campaign, Ask Gudmundur, was named the “best innovative use of social media” in Skift’s awards. It created a “human search engine” to connect travelers with locals. Instead of having visitors just search for information or ask questions in a forum, the marketers found Icelanders with a common local name: Guðmundur or Guðmunda (the female version of the name). These residents then answered questions about their region via social media. The country has previously run similarly colorful campaigns, like “Iceland Wants to be Your Friend.” And it’s working—the numbers of foreign visitors to the country jumped 23.6 percent last year.

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