Engage a new audience by taking inspiration from the Sidemen, says Miles Morgan

It is not often that a day out with the kids on a Sunday provides food for thought for business but the other day certainly did. We were at a gaming and YouTuber event in London called Upload 2016. All 6,000 tickets sold out in six minutes. So what is it all about, who are these people and what relevance might it have for travel?

Those who know me know I am not a Twitter fan for business, but that is simply down to the demographic of my clients and the fact that only 2% use it. If you feel engagement on social media with customers and future clients is key, maybe you need lessons from these boys.

The Sidemen (their group name) are YouTube stars Vik, Ethan, Harry, JJ, Josh, Simon and Tobi. They became famous for posting computer game commentaries on the video-sharing site. They also post real-life videos (four of them live together) and vlogs about football and pranks.

To give you an idea of how big they are on Twitter, while Thomson has 132,000 followers, Vikkstar123 (Vik) has 1.28 million. And on YouTube, Thomas Cook has 3,966 subscribers, whereas JJ has 15 million ‘subs’.

Watch and learn

So what’s the big deal and why do we care about these guys? Well, if you want to engage large audiences you need to understand how they do it; frequency, interaction and listening to feedback seems the way.

As an industry we have one of the most engaging products – holidays and holiday destinations – but we fail to cut through and engage people enough to grab their interest.

How do we make holidays more fun and engaging to grab people’s attention? How can the holiday be brought to life more? Virtual reality could be a way forward. I am sure when some young whizz-kid (I am past my sell-by date on this) cracks it, holiday companies will all clamour to get a piece of the action.

Engage young people

With an average age of about 14, these kids are a new sector coming through and getting their view on the world from a very different medium to me in my day, and even from my 18-year-old. When they reach the holiday purchase stage in just four years’ time, who will be engaging them?

We are reaching the end of the travel conference season and I have no doubt many “experts” in this area were speaking, but good as they might be, nothing beats hearing from people who live it, deliver it and conquer it.

Even the person Twitter employed to teach people how to engage and use the social media channel to best effect had the good grace to admit on a panel session that she had only 2,200 followers.

I had a great day and my eyes were wide to the opportunity in this area, the audience sizes and the loyalty to the guys is something to see, akin to hero status. Good on them and may they flourish. The rest of us can scratch our heads on how to gain access to this younger generation.