If there was one industry that has truly benefitted from the rise of social media, it has to be the travel industry. Let me ask you a few questions. When was the last time you travelled and you didn’t ‘check in’ at an airport, used a fancy Snapchat filter to show off your vacation or snapped the dopest jumping pic off of a mountain in Africa (brushes shoulder)? If you’re a millennial, there is no way that you’re travelling and not documenting every single detail of your travel experience. This is now a way of life. If it’s not on social media, did you really go?
Thanks to social media, people are travelling more and travelling farther than ever before. Social media and social influencers spotlight countries that once were unheard of, countries that people never knew about and activities that were once off-the-beaten path. A few years ago, I ventured out to The Exumas in The Bahamas and stumbled upon the now famous Swimming Pigs. The pigs were one of our best-kept secrets, but that quickly changed when celebrities and influencers began to splash them all over Instagram and Twitter; their popularity skyrocketed and they are now the number one attraction in The Exumas and probably in The Bahamas.
The story is the same for perhaps dozens of destinations around the world. Remember that one shot of Zakynthos, Greece that every single influencer shared. Don’t lie, you wanted to go to Zakynthos as well hey?! I still want to go. That is the power of social media. The people that we follow help to shape what we do and where we go. That’s why influencers get paid so much!
When was the last time you flew on JetBlue? Did you use the Fly-Fi to upload a picture of the wing and clouds with the caption #CatchFlightsNotFeelings? JetBlue has become the first airline to outfit every single plane with free WiFi. JetBlue knows what is important to today’s travellers and they ensure that they are ahead of the competition. Travellers crave constant connectivity; if you’re heading to a destination you want to share your excitement, you want your friends to know your every move. If you’re heading back home, you want to share your dope photographs and moments. Airlines like JetBlue get that!
Destinations have now adopted official hashtags, #ItsBetterInTheBahamas is The Bahamas’ official hashtag, Jamaica wants you to share your memories with #VisitJamaica and South Africa wants you to #MeetSouthAfrica. Destinations know how important it is to encourage social sharing; more pictures, more interest. I remember when I started travelling in the early 2000’s and the cost of WiFi was insane. Guess what, these days you don’t even have to pay for Wifi, hotels know that free Wifi is added value and when you have free Wifi, you can check in on social media. There are hotels now that cater to the social media generation; I’ve been at hotels that gift you with free drinks and discounts if you include them in social media posts.
Businesses that don’t adapt to the new travel industry are going to get left behind. If we don’t know about your hotel, we’re not staying there. If we don’t see pretty pictures of your destination, we’re not going there. We use social media in just about every stage of travel. We discover where we want to go on Pinterest and Instagram. We’ve ditched guidebooks in favour of travelling planning apps like Lonely Planet & Fodor. We’re not booking through travel agents, we have Expedia & Hopper and travel hacking websites to get us that cheap fare. We use Instagram, Facebook, Twitter & Snapchat to keep our family and friends updated with our epic moments as we go!
While social media does catch a bad name, it has revolutionised the way we travel and I’m here for it! The world is more connected and smaller than ever before. Are you complaining? I’m not complaining! The next time you see a couple on a vacation trying to snap their meal or get that perfect shot for Instagram, don’t judge, get with it!
LET’S KEEP IN TOUCH!