Tourism and social media seem to be the theme of the week this week, yesterday saw the topic covered at the annual Exmoor Tourism Partnership where I was a keynote speaker. This morning I was talking on the same subject on BBC Radio Somerset, and today it’s the major theme of Somerset’s Annual Tourism Conference.

I was asked the same question on radio as I was when giving my talk – why is social media so important for tourism.

The simple answer is “because it is how a huge proportion of holidaymakers make their decision on where to go”.

A recent survey suggested that nearly 50% of people who did any social media research when considering a holiday (and that’s most people these days), changed their mind about where to go as a result of social media.

That’s quite a stat – nearly half the people thinking of going somewhere then entirely changed their mind because of how people were talking about places online. You need to make sure they are talking about you.

Talk amongst friends

It’s actually not hard to see why that happens. When people simply search online, they find information about a place written by the place itself. Or they may find reviews by people they don’t know.

When they search on social, more often than not they are finding reviews from people they know – or at worst a friend of a friend.

How much more persuasive is a recommendation from a friend than an advert?

The beauty of social media is that you can, in effect, join in a conversation between friends about things that relate to your business.

Unlike and advert, that has to be watched or read, or a website that has to be searched for and found – your social media is there, live, in the conversation, when people are deciding where to go.

You’ve posted pictures of your guests having a great time (with their permission of course!) and tagged them in it. You’ve connected with networks that are interested in things you have – fishing, horses, cycling, rambling, good food etc – and given them useful information that they like to share. You’ve posted videos, you’ve tweeted about the river levels, or the weather, or things to see and do, or events going on in your town.

So when they think about where to take a break, you are there – on their own platform, in their living room or on their phone, at the right time in the right place.

Social media doesn’t require an enormous amount of technical knowledge, what it does require is careful planning, proper strategy, and – most of all – your voice with something interesting to say.

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