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Travel Toolbox: Making the Most of Social Media

It has become commonplace — almost passé — to talk about how social media has changed aspects of everyday life. The power of the Internet, mobile technology and the social platforms that connect us all is incredible and can influence almost everything you do, including the way you run your travel group.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest offer a lot of potential for improving group travel and tourism marketing, although much of that potential has gone untapped so far. But as baby boomers continue to adopt social technology as a lifestyle tool, a savvy use of new media can help travel planners plan and promote their trips.

Here are five ideas about how you can use existing social technology to organize, publicize and optimize group travel.


Build Your Groups

If you don’t already have a Facebook group or fan page put together for your travel or loyalty program, you should start one right now. Those features give you a way to connect to and communicate with your members without having to fight for attention in their email inbox, physical mailbox or telephone voicemail box. And if your travelers are frequent Facebook users, you should also consider putting together smaller group pages for specific trips, which will allow you to build a sense of camaraderie among travelers even before the trip begins.


‘Buzz’ Your Marketing

Beautiful photos, witty remarks and exciting news make the rounds in social media with lightning speed. Smart salespeople use this to their advantage, using “buzz marketing” campaigns that are built around clever social media releases. You can do this same thing to build interest in your group or your trip: Publish a gorgeous travel photo or a preview of an upcoming trip to your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account, and you can quickly grab the interest of potential customers. And if you encourage those travelers to interact with you online during a tour, the buzz from your travel activities can spread through their friend networks as well.


Play Social Games

Many group leaders use games to keep passengers entertained during long stretches of travel, and those games have traditionally involved pencil and paper. But smartphones and social apps have the potential to change all that. With some creativity, you can use social media to arrange photo contests, scavenger hunts and other social games to engage your travelers. Offer a prize to the first person on the trip who responds to your tweet or who correctly identifies a place you’ve photographed on the trip. In addition to entertaining your travelers, those games will also publicize your activities to your followers and theirs.