Travel has been slower to embrace social media than any other sector save financial services, according to Jeremy Jauncey, founder and chief executive of “the world’s largest travel community”, Beautiful Destinations.
More than 12 million people “follow and engage with our content”, says Jauncey of a business which melds social media with stunning photographs. But that ‘engagement’ is not an end in itself. Beautiful Destinations is a marketing agency which makes money from creating “social-first content” and analysing its impact, running campaigns for tourist boards and travel brands.
The images come from “teams of photographers, drone operators and smartphone photographers”.
Jauncey says: “We have a powerful community of content creators and showcase their work.”
He adds: “The business is built on visual analytics. We talk about the digital DNA of an image – what is optimal for a brand and for an audience.” It started, he says, “as a passion for photos and developed as a side project to create a place people could trust to share content”.
Jauncey points out: “Travel is inherently photographic. There are hundreds of millions of pieces of [online] content with travel hashtags. Consumers are inherently willing to share travel experiences.”
He suggests the industry has been held back on social media “because it is so dominated by online travel agents and by a transactional focus – by how ‘do I optimise transactions?’ rather than ‘how do I engage?’”
However, he says: “Travel brands in the US are starting to spend dramatically more on social media.
“When you spend on above-the-line [traditional] advertising it is difficult to attribute the results. With social media, you see what works within 24 hours. It gives you real-time data on how a campaign is doing. We start a campaign, distribute it, provide analytics and run multiple variations in content. When we find top-performing content, we buy Facebook and Instagram ads for the client.”
He insists: “Brands using social media have to embrace social first.” By that he means: “Create content for social media and use it first on social media. Companies tend to take a traditional advertising campaign and drop it on to social media. We say shoot social first. The whole model has to shift.”
That doesn’t mean the end of traditional marketing. Jauncey says: “You shouldn’t think of it as social versus traditional media. They’re complementary.
“We use the top-performing content across media. You see what performs best and use it.”
Jauncey will speak on the social media opportunities for travel brands at The Travel Convention 2016, taking place on October 10-12 at Yas Island, Abu Dhabi:
Headline speaker: Mottershead to talk tech changes
Thomas Cook UK managing director Chris Mottershead will be a headline speaker at the Travel Convention 2016, for which Travel Weekly is once again trade media partner.
Mottershead will discuss the technical innovations and changes in demand that have shaped the industry’s past and are shaping its future.
A former managing director of Airtours Holidays, Mottershead ran the Airtours business in North America in the 1990s and was managing director of Tui UK in the early 2000s.
He went on to set up and run the Travelzest group, then run the Tui business in Russia for five years, before joining Thomas Cook in April 2015, taking over as UK and Ireland managing director last September.
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