Africa Travel Week
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How the travel industry can use social media to rebuild trust

Now, more than ever, trust is key for travel brands and destinations. Whether it’s booking a hotel room or finding budget-friendly flights, consumers want to know that their health and safety is the most important thing to you, writes Albertine Brandon.

When it comes to communicating hygiene protocols and safety measures, it’s important to talk directly to your target audience. Social media gives you that opportunity, if you get it right you’ll quickly rebuild trust with future travellers.

Use video to educate your audience

When done right, video can be the most effective way to communicate with your audience via social. An engaging video will make far more of an impression on your audience, and will allow you to showcase more stringent health and safety measures. Travellers may me more likely to watch a video than read an article, so a great video is the best way to ensure they are fully educated on the changes you have made.

If you have the resources available, an immersive video could be the best way to showcase health and safety measures. This could take the form of a virtual walk through of your hotel rooms, or airplane cabin. A virtual tour, with information on hygiene protocols, will allow travellers to fully understand what their experience with you will be like. It will also build their confidence in the safety measures you are taking.

These videos can be shared on platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter (make sure you resize them for each platform). If you do share to YouTube, make sure you apply SEO to your title and description to make it easier for people to find. You could also embed the video on your website, enhancing any health and safety information already on the page.

If you share on Instagram, it may be worth creating a ‘health and safety’ Story Highlight where you save the videos so people can easily find them and refer back to them.

Making your videos engaging, educational and easily accessible on social media will help to rebuild trust in your brand or destination as more people begin to book holidays.

Go Live to share unique content

Live streams have become increasingly popular during lockdown. Many travel and wellness brands have taken to Instagram Live to share yoga, fitness, cooking and meditation sessions hosted by their employees. These Live sessions can be a great way for travellers to ‘get to know’ the personalities behind your brand and build a relationship with them.

Building these relationships will in turn rebuild their trust in your brand. After all, people are more likely to trust an individual than a faceless company. Having a few familiar faces on social media, and hosting regular Live sessions, will build your brand’s online presence. This means that when people are ready to travel, your company will be at the top of their mind and they’ll be more likely to book with you than your competition.

If you are going to make Lives a regular part of your content strategy, make sure you plan them out fully. Decide on 2-3 concepts and turn them into a series (Instagram actually allows you to save your Lives as IGTV videos that can be added to ‘series’ so your audience can watch them all in one place). Plan out the format and content for each Live in advance so you can prepare for them and do them regularly.

Ask your audience

One of the great things about social media is how interactive it is. Each platform allows you to connect with your ideal audience and find out exactly what they want from your brand or destination. It also allows you to stay tuned into how travel trends are changing and what each demographic values.

Platforms like Twitter and Instagram have tools, like polls, question stickers and quizzes. You can use these to find out what your audience thinks and learn more about what is important to them. Being more tuned in to how your audience’s preferences are changing, and then catering to them, is a great way to rebuild trust.

Once you know your target audience inside and out, you can consistently cater to their specific needs. Once your audience knows you can give them exactly what they want and need, they will trust you to continue to provide it in the future.

Make sure you’re also regularly checking your DMs for any comments and queries from your audience. Pay attention to constructive criticism and specific praise you get from your customers. This should help you to adapt your business to the needs of future travellers.

Make the most of paid social

Paid social posts are arguably the best way to reach your target audience and communicate with them in an effective way. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow you to be really specific with who you want to reach, and you can tailor the content in your paid social posts to the target audience.

Instagram and Facebook allow you to target audiences based on their location, age, gender and interests.  Matching these demographics up with specific content can be a great way to appeal to potential customers, and ensure you’re getting a great ROI.

For example, if you were an airline that wanted to promote more stringent hygiene protocols on your Manchester to Ibiza route, then targeting a millennial audience who are based in Manchester with an interest in Ibiza and beach clubs would be the best thing to do. If you also make sure your content uses visuals and sound that resonates with this audience, then you’re on to a winner.

Ensuring that the content and targeting are right will help you to quickly rebuild trust as the audience will know you have put thought into how you communicate with them and what their wants and needs are.

Work with influencers

As well as organic and paid social content, working with influencers can be a great way to quickly rebuild trust with your ideal traveller. Influencers have a direct relationship with consumers, and engage in a more relatable way with their followers. Working with them as a travel brand or destination can be a great way to showcase the traveller experience, rather than just telling consumers why you want them to buy from you.

You can work with influencers on a gifting or paid basis. Gifting will mean you have little to no control over the content they produce. If you have specific messaging you want them to include, then a paid campaign would be best.

For example, if you were a European city who wants to encourage people to take weekend breaks with you, then inviting a group of vloggers for a weekend trip could be a great way to advertise that you are open for business once again. They could film their entire trip, sharing the health and safety measures in place and how much they enjoyed their time in your city. After the trip you could negotiate usage rights with them so you can use their video in your marketing campaigns for a more relatable way communicate with consumers.

If you are going to work with influencers, make sure they are a good fit for your brand or destination and that their audience matches up with yours. It’s great to reach new people, but ultimately you want to make sure the people engaging with the content are likely to connect with your brand and want to book with you in the future.

It’s also worth looking into how trustworthy the influencer you work with are. Have they received any criticism in the past for their ethics? Do they have an authentic and engaged audience? Take a look at the comments on their content to see how ‘real’ they look. It may also be worth googling their name or social media handle to see what comes up.

The main thing to remember with social media is that it is social. Instead of seeing at as a way to promote your brand, view it as a place to connect with your customers and build a genuine relationship with them. If you are able to do this with a combination of organic content, paid social and influencer marketing then you will quickly rebuild trust with travellers.

Albertine Brandon

Albertine Brandon

Albertine Brandon is a style and beauty influencer with expertise in social media, influencer marketing and content strategy. She has created content for her own channels for close to a decade and has interviewed some of the UK's top social media talent, including Suzie Bonaldi (Hello October), Dodie, Stephanie Yeboah and Emma Blackery.