Travel, Storytelling & Social Media Marketing

Travel Research Online by Richard Earls
Travel is very much like a good story. There is typically a beginning, middle and an end, twists and plot complications, high and low points and almost always something to be learned. Many of my own favourite personal stories are a part of some physical journey I have taken at some point in my life. I'll wager you might be able to say the same.

We all spend much of our time in a very routine, logical work-a-day world. Consumers want to travel, but all too often approach their planning and purchasing decisions from the same rational mindset they use to buy a washer and dryer. Their thinking is all about features, logistics and numbers. The rational side of the mind gives undue weight to matters like price. The rational mind understands only cost; it's the right-brained function to see value. People in the business of marketing travel have the important mission to assist the buying public in breaking through those barriers to understanding what a life experience travel can be.

As travel marketers charged with the responsibility of helping people travel well, it's important to learn how to use social media to tell a good travel story, to communicate our passion. When we can romance a memory, a destination or activity, we move far beyond the logical, rational impediments to travel and move into a more mythical, emotional realm. I'm not speaking of manipulation but rather to the ability to address the consumer's more intuitive, holistic faculties.

The companies which know how to tell a good story are the most inspirational and look to social media to communicate with their clients. Social media, with its mix of graphics, text, video, sound and commenting is the perfect medium for telling a travel story, for conveying not only the left-brained logistics and cost of travel but also the right-brained romance and vision.

I love Africa. I first went there in my forties and nothing ever looked the same again. I climbed Kilimanjaro with my teenage son, we went on a safari together. I was charged, and nearly caught, by a bull elephant that I accidentally surprised on a path. I roamed the streets of Stonetown in Zanzibar and woke one morning to the simultaneous sounds of the chimes from a Hindu temple, the bells from the Catholic school and the call to prayer from a mosque. I heard a blind teacher in Bagamoyo in profound gratitude and with pride recite the number of desks, blackboards and classrooms in her small village school building. I saw there the remnants of the slave trade and learned that in Swahili “Bagamoyo" meant “Lay your heart down" because from that point on, hope was lost to a person captured for slavery.

For the life of me I cannot remember what my trip to Africa cost, but I would gladly pay it all over again just for the privilege of retaining the memories.

That type of passion is what travel is all about. Through social media we can tell travel stories in such a way as to break through logic to desire, to the place where the full value of the experience exceeds the price to be paid. Consumers want stories of their own. As a travel marketer you can use the tools social media provides to be both the catalyst and the pathway for them.

Learn to communicate your favourite travel stories to the public. When you do, you will open up your passions to consumers, and passion ignites passion. Be passionate about helping others to travel well. Be passionate about a great value for those who look to your company for assistance in travel. Their well-being should be some part of your mission statement. Here is one way to demonstrate your empathy with clients, using one of themany videos TROhas produced for travel professionals to private label with their own logo and contact information. These videos, as well as our other content, are absolutely free to travel professionals and can be used in social media, newsletters and websites.

Great photography, video, world music, landscapes and exotic locations are the stuff of great stories. You have all of this at your disposal and it's important, not just for you and your company, but for the consumer.

Because you and your company are a part of their story.

Richard Earls is the Publisher of Travel Research Online, an online travel industry resource dedicated to enhancing the professional lives of travel agents.

Richard Earls is the Publisher of Travel Research Online, an online travel industry resource dedicated to enhancing the professional lives of travel agents.

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