It’s not the holiday destination, it’s the journey that delivers ROI

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Immediate Media look at the social habits around booking a holiday.

Data in the latest GfK report reveals that the last few weeks have proved to be a challenge for the travel market with total bookings down 13% at the end of December and 9% in the first week of 2019.

Whilst I don’t think for one minute that social offers a panacea to these difficulties, making your social work harder would certainly make a difference.

Our latest report uncovered a number of factors that deliver impact on social performance for travel brands. One in particular is worth exploring more. Where are holiday buyers in the purchase journey when they are on social?

It is a common misconception that people go on social media when they’re on their holidays - at their destination. They snap sunsets, selfies and poolside hot dogs and post them to their favourite social profile. The truth, of course, is that conversations take place across the journey. We talk as much as we dream of going away, and often even more whilst we decide what to buy.

The research in our holiday report, looks at social conversations in the last year that mention holidays (using social data tool, Brandwatch). The data was then filtered to identify where the audience was in a typical purchase journey – we used the McKinsey loop!

Your content needs to match the mindset of your customer. Are they dreaming of holidays? Are they planning, evaluating and asking others for advice? How does social fit into that purchase journey? Find the soft spots where social will help, so you can move consumers towards purchase or advocacy.

Compared to our travel research two years ago, initial consideration is still high, but social conversations that show consumers are actively evaluating, has grown. In other words, people talk more throughout their purchase journey to a holiday than ever before. But are sharing less when they’re there.

Social plays its role across the purchase journey. It impacts and influences at all stages like never before. It’s vital that personalised content is created for each of these stages.

Holidays that need careful consideration, or are more complex in nature, require more time spent at the initial consideration phase. This means consumers are more open to longer form content, expert opinions, top tips etc. The closer to purchase they get, the more responsive they are to brand promotions and peer reviews.

Travel brands that focus on destination may want to think about how they help the consumer plan. There needs to be more detail on what can be expected from a holiday, including the package and the benefits, and brands needs to play their part. Recommendations and reviews are important. Brands can influence these and should amplify them across social channels.

But that doesn’t mean all purchase journeys are the same

The purchase journey changes depending on the type of holiday discussed. Some, naturally fall into the dream holiday category, whilst others (especially adventure and experience holidays) attract more ‘evaluation’ social posts.

For example, 41% of those talking about beach holidays do so at initial consideration. Active evaluation drops to 20%, purchase to 32% and post purchase to 7%.

However, when you look at mentions of skiing, it shows that active evaluation is talked about more (33%) than beach holidays. People look for advice and recommendations when it comes to skiing. That changes again for cruises, walking holidays and so on.

Change your approach across the journey

Travel brands tend to focus on discovery in social. Yet it’s clear that for most holiday types, evaluation is significant. Therefore, developing content that supports the considering phase of the purchase as well as amplifying purchase and experience, will allow brands to maximise the social conversation and drive impact on their business. Maybe with sales lower than expected, now is the time to focus on how social will make a difference.

Find out more and download the full report here for free.

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