7 Best Travel Brands on Social Media (and What We Can Learn From Them).

Social media is a key source of inspiration to many travelers. But how can travel brands stand out among the noise on social media?
Hugh Beaulac
November 6, 2019 - 11 min. read

Traveling broadens the mind and modern customers want to invest their money in traveling. As specified in one survey by Realty Mogul, 47% of young people between the ages of 18 and 34 would rather spend their money on traveling than buying a house.

Over the last few years, consumer behavior has changed, so travel companies should realize the power of travel marketing on social media on purchase decisions. From inspiration to booking, modern travelers use social media platforms when it comes to planning a trip.

If you’re wondering why using social media is a great idea for your travel company, pay attention to the top 3 reasons to be on social media:

  • Spread the word about the company: Modern users spend a considerable amount of time on social media and the number of social media users is projected to increase to almost 3.1 billion in 2021. The most popular social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook have significantly impacted the way people travel. Today, 87% of Millennials use Facebook for travel inspiration, so having a social media presence is a great way to stand out from the crowd.
  • Attract new customers: The days when social media platforms were used only to share photos are far behind us. Today, people discover and buy new products in-app, and 43% of social media users have purchased a product after liking it on Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter. For travel companies, this also means an opportunity to encourage their social media followers to become customers and grow their revenue.
  • Increase customer satisfaction: Over the last few years, social media platforms have become an actionable communication tool, faster than email or phone. Today, 63% of people use social media for service-related needs, so travel companies need to provide customer support if they want to increase customer satisfaction. For example, TUI Nordic provides high-quality support to their customers on social media and it helps to manage various satisfaction and ease the mind of panicked travelers. As a result, the company has an army of loyal followers who are more likely to recommend their services to their friends and buy from them.

As you can see, there are many reasons why using social media for travel companies is a must.

And here are 7 best travel companies on social media and what we can learn from them:

1. Air France – going local to go global

Air France is a reputable French flag carrier that flies to 201 destinations in 93 countries across 6 continents. To keep in touch with its customers, Air France runs social media profiles on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Like all large travel companies, Air France constantly manages a barrage of satisfied and dissatisfied customers on social media, so the company is available 24/7 on Facebook and Twitter to answer customers´ travel questions.

Since Air France works around the globe, the company has the main account and it also divides up social media accounts by countries to solve location-specific problems with ease. Here’s how it looks like on Twitter:

Source: Twitter

Not only does it help regional audiences keep up with the latest local news, but it also helps the customer support team solve problems at a local level faster.

Although it takes time and effort to manage multiple social media accounts, it’s a must for global travel companies that want to stay one step ahead of their competitors and establish long-term connections with local customers.

Brand Takeaway: To connect with local customers at a deeper level, it’s a great idea to create different accounts for each market. When you have separate accounts for separate local markets, you can tailor content to cultural preferences.

2. Airbnb – using social media as customer service

Airbnb is one of the most popular travel companies on social media platforms that has over 21 million loyal followers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. What makes the company so popular? Airbnb puts its community at the center of the social media marketing campaign, providing excellent customer care.

The company even has a separate Twitter help page that is focused on solving customer inquires: Airbnb customer support team works 24/7 to help travelers get their questions answered fast.

Many travelers agree that the official customer support works fast, putting its customers first. As a result, it helps to handle negative feedback and encourage customers to give the company a second try. Here’s what Julian Gottke, travel blogger at Waves’n’Backpack, says:

“The power of social media makes you feel safe as a traveler. My girlfriend and I were on the road through rural Mexico when we booked a “Rusty Garden Shed”. The rustic feel ended up being completely different from the images, so we didn’t want to stay. I tweeted, AirBnB reacted immediately, refunded the money and offered to help! What a great customer service via Twitter, it made us feel safe. Still happy to have booked through them, even with a bad experience.”

Although Airbnb has a separate social media account for providing customer service, the company also manages comments on other social media profiles to make sure all worried customers get their problems solved. Here’s how it looks like on Facebook:

Airbnb gets both positive and negative feedback from its customers on social media. However, the company monitors and analyses all comments and brand mentions to make sure each worried customer gets a proper reply in time.

Brand Takeaway: With the popularity of social media, modern customers have a new way to interact with the brands they love. Travel companies should be ready to manage customer service requests on social media, so it’s important to monitor brand mentions and provide customer support in time.

3. Booking.com – embracing video for a strong travel marketing strategy

As specified in one research by Booking.com, one in five travelers seek ‘Instagrammable moments’, so social media platforms have a great impact on travelers when booking alternative accommodations. Booking.com knows the power of social media, so it keeps up with trends to reach its target audience and interact with potential customers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Using various videos on social media profiles is what makes Booking.com any different from other travel companies. According to Animoto, videos are a customers’ favorite type of branded content and 46% of customers watch more video ads on social media than on TV. Thus, it’s no wonder that this content type helps to engage and educate potential customers.

The company uses IGTV to feature long-form videos that showcase guests’ experiences, tell more about the benefits of listing your home, show off properties, take users behind the scenes, etc. Here’s how their IGTV channel looks like:

Booking.com has invited its customers to share their travel stories and create the featured video for Facebook:

What is more, Booking.com produces video ad campaigns to promote its services and updates. Here’s an example from Twitter:

Whether you publish disappearing videos in Instagram Stories or go live on social media, the main idea is to interest your potential customers and tell the story that keeps them engaged. With a variety of social media video formats, it’s easy for travel companies of all sizes and shapes to find the video type that suits their strategy best.

Brand Takeaway: Try to create various videos for social media to grab your followers’ attention and keep them hooked. For example, this type of content helps to spark interest in destinations as it shows the place in a whole new light.

4. National Geographic Travel – travel social media marketing is about storytelling

The tourism industry on social media is flourishing nowadays, so the number of travel companies that want to jump on the bandwagon is growing. However, National Geographic Travel needs no introduction as it’s one of the most popular travel brands on social media with almost 50 million followers globally across all platforms.

Working in a competitive environment, the company knows that posting beautiful photos isn’t enough to hook the target audience, so National Geographic uses the power of storytelling: sharing first-hand experiences, it’s easier to drive a deeper connection with followers and spark travelers’ curiosity.

Since photos tell stories well, it’s no wonder that National Geographic uses Instagram for promoting the travel company and writes stories as captions to drive more engagement:

The company also uses this technique on Twitter, but it hooks followers with a short introduction and then encourages users to read more on their blog:

A great story opens up new communication options and allows the travel industry to be more transparent. What is more, people love stories, so using this method also helps to become closer to customers, and therefore build brand trust which means more loyal fans over the long haul.

Brand Takeaway: If you want to encourage more followers to visit a particular destination, you need to use social media for storytelling as it’s a proven way to drive engagement and spark their interest in a tourism destination. What is more, you can invite your customers to become the heroes of these stories to be more authentic.

5. Hopper – use paid advertising to boost your reach

With the popularity of social media platforms, it’s no wonder that companies of all sizes and shapes want to promote their products and achieve their business goals on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. According to Statista, 91% of U.S. businesses use social media for marketing purposes. For travel companies, this means that they are working in a highly competitive environment and it’s getting harder to cut through the noise.

However, using paid ads helps to target various customer segments with ease and get wonderful results. Let’s take a look at Hopper, one of the fastest-growing travel apps ever. To drive searches and bookings on the app, the company ran Instagram Stories ads to reach and engage millennial North American travelers. The campaign got wonderful results, reaching 7.5 million people in the US and Canada with an 80% higher booking rate for new users.

Source: Instagram

It’s never too late to jump on the bandwagon and start using social media platforms to promote your products and services. But it’s harder for new companies to reach their potential customers as the competition is high these days. Thus, running ads helps to save time and make sure you reach the right people.

Brand Takeaway: No matter what your business goal is, whether you want to raise brand awareness, boost engagement, or increase sales, running social media ads is a proven way to reach your target audience without wasting much time. Plus, using Stories ads helps to grab the attention of engaged followers which means a better conversion rate.

6. STA Travel – successful travel industry marketing leverages user-generated content

An Expedia Group Media Solutions poll claims that Millennials and Gen Z travel the most: an average traveler takes 29-35 days vacation each year. What is more, young people between the ages of 18 and 34 are most likely to spend more money on vacations than other age groups. Why? With the popularity of the anti-homework movement, teachers and parents seek out alternative ways to help students gain soft skills, so traveling abroad becomes more and more popular among young adventurers.

However, many students are afraid of traveling alone, so they are looking for trustworthy companies on social media before planning their trips. As one of the largest student and youth travel company, it’s no wonder that STA Travel uses social media platforms to reach out to its potential customers and engage them online.

Most travelers claim that friends’ photos inspire their travel plans and 92% of people trust word-of-mouth recommendations, so the company knows the importance of publishing user-generated content (UGC) to provide social proof. Here’s how it works:

With a focus on young travelers, it’s easy to encourage user-generated content as around 97% of Millennials share photos on social media while traveling. However, it’s important to ask customers permission to feature their images on social media, and tagging authors is a must.

Brand Takeaway: To grab the attention of your target audience and prove that your company is trustworthy, it’s important to leverage the power of user-generated content and feature fan-made images on social media profiles.

7. Wizz Air – make social selling a part of your travel marketing strategy

The days when social media platforms were used to share private photos are far behind us. Today, customers discover new products and services on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. What is more, they are ready to buy them in-app.

For travel companies, this also means an opportunity to convert interested followers into customers and boost sales. Wizz Air knows the power of social media, so this company uses social media accounts to spark customers’ interest in services and increase sales.

Wizz Air has an efficient social selling strategy. For example, the company promotes the Wizz discount club on Instagram, showing followers how to save money with it.

Since the holiday shopping season is coming closer, the company knows that its customers are looking for gift ideas, so Wizz Air suggests buying a gift voucher on Facebook:

Wizz Air also promotes its discounts and sales on social media platforms to attract the attention of potential customers:

Modern social media users are ready to buy products and services in-app, so it’s important to create interesting and engaging content that encourages them to make the purchase action faster. Whether you promote a loyalty program or announce a mid-season sale, there are many ways for travel companies to turn your social media accounts into a powerful sales machine.

Brand Takeaway: When you promote seasonal sales, special offers, and loyalty programs, you make it easier to reach potential customers and drive sales on social media. Moreover, social shopping is on the rise, so customers are ready to make the most out of branded offers.

The Bottom Line

The tourism industry is developing and changing. Today, modern travelers want to draw inspiration from social media platforms, so most travel companies use the most popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to communicate with potential customers, increase brand awareness, and boost sales. What is more, travel companies keep up with the latest trends to cut through the noise, and there are many things we can learn from successful brands that use social media for marketing purposes.

About the author:

Hugh Beaulac is a digital marketer, social media specialist, and content creator at MC2 Bid4Papers. With over 6 years of experience in marketing, he helps SMBs grow online. Hugh also contributes to different websites to share his tips and tricks, so follow him on Twitter to stay tuned for more.