Travel Agency Marketing and Social Media

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Business ・APA

Over the years, travel agencies have been one of the principal means of offering advice and services at affordable rates to consumers wishing to travel at pleasure or for business purposes. Any firms that provide agent services provide commissions or discounts to certain agencies, while others do not. Those agencies which do not obtain discounts or payments must charge their services flat rates. The revenues generated by the travel agency are obviously based on sales volumes and a marketing strategy is therefore necessary to ensure that travel agencies remain afloat. Several methods of advertising are available to travel agencies, be they traditional methods such as print media, radio and television media or online advertising such as social media.

Traditional methods of advertising are one sided where the companies simply pass a message across to the customers who have no means of getting their feedback across. More modern methods such as social media have become popular because they engage the customers and generate feedback. There is no accepted definition of what social media is but the general concept is user generated content. Social media or web 2.0 has been defined as common internet platforms that allow users to connect with each other, generate and share content (Yazdanifard and Yee,2014). One of the main advantages of social media marketing is a large number of potential audience. A successful marketing campaign depends on numbers which is why companies can no longer ignore social media in their marketing. Another advantage is the personal touch that the platform offers to marketers. The company brand becomes mixed with the customer friend's posts, and this personalizes the company making it more appealing and more social and therefore more likely to get its message across to the client. The platform is also free and therefore cost effective to the company as a marketing strategy (Si, 2015). It enables companies to share their knowledge on their products, access customer knowledge, enable customer assistance and pass the company message along easily.

Review Of Different Social Media Channels

There are different types of social media each with its unique audience that visits it and each with the various applications for the travel agency marketing strategies. There are different social media channels that exist, and each is different from the other regarding technology, target audience and how it interacts with the user.  Chan, Cho, and Lee (2013) show that the four main types of social media channels include:

  1. Social networking sites which are websites that allow users to create accounts update information (text, video or photo) and share it with their networks.
  2. Blog or Weblog which are online pages that resemble personal journals where personal stories in video, text or image format are shared and that include links to other websites.
  3. The wiki which are online platforms for creating content that require group collaboration in editing and posting the information.
  4. Message boards or forums which are topical platforms that encourage conversations around a common topic.

A more comprehensive list of social media channels that includes Virtual realities such as second life, podcasts and educational platforms such as MIT education. Essentially, the social media keeps changing as technology advances and as tastes and preferences keep on changing, and therefore the above list will keep growing. Social media users are categorized into four groups, watchers that account for the largest portion, sharers, commenter and producers with decreasing numbers. A successful marketing plan targets all these groups of social media users.

Social Networking Sites

The first social media platform is the social networking sites and the microblogs such as Twitter that are commonly aggregated together because of how they interact with their users.  Regarding users, most of the social media falls in this category. Facebook alone has over 1.7 billion active users who are almost a quarter of the world's population while Twitter had more than three hundred million users by 2016. Facebook was in 2010 rated as having access to an estimated 39.2% of all internet users and therefore an important marketing platform. Concerning content,  Facebook allows users to share stories, images and has a more profound room for travel agency marketing that involves the sale of experiences from the destinations.  Facebook also allows the users to post videos and sometimes acts as a website providing platforms that enable bookings, comments from satisfied customers and links to other pages. Twitter, on the other hand, allows for short comments and news to be posted to customers. Twitter is better if one wants to follow what people are saying about a destination or travel agency through their hashtag technology.  The social network sites allow instant feedbacks on posts and adverts through technologies such as like buttons and also post comments to the posts. Social networks also allow the travel agencies to find their target audience through direct access where the audience follow their pages or through the media's advertisement solutions. Adverts can also be customized to different users in the various regions so that they are regionally relevant which enriches the marketing strategy.

Another major social Network channel, especially in recent years, is the video sharing site such as Vines and YouTube websites. In 2010 YouTube had access to 31.8 of all internet users, this number has continued to grow. These websites allow users to upload videos that are available for free to users of the websites. YouTube, in particular, is very popular because it has an estimate ten million unique viewers daily and it does not limit the size of the video. Vines, however, limit the video size but are popular among smart phone users. The video websites are important to travel agencies because they are visual and allow them to show videos of destinations and allow the users to leave comments. Some travel agencies encourage travelers to take videos and post them through competitions this markets the agency's services and tour destination. Videos can go viral which is a situation where a video generates media attention making it popular as more people seek to watch it. Through taking advantage of this, the travel agency can post adverts or popularize the destination, and this can make the marketing plan a success.

When To Use Social Networking Sites

The decision on when to use the platform depends on various factors that are related the aim of the marketing strategy. If the goal of the strategy is to increase or maintain the customer base through market penetration, then the social networking media can be an excellent platform to use because of the large numbers of people it has. There are two types of customers for travel agencies: those that travel for business and those that travel for leisure or social interaction. A good marketing strategy will target the leisure travelers because they are more and they are more likely to stay longer at the travel destination which means more income for the travel agency from commissions. Another consideration for whether to use the platform is the target audience.  Although the social networks contain all types of ages, it has a younger demographic, and this should be considered when planning the marketing campaign. According to Invesini and Masiero (2014), the success of any social media marketing strategy depends on other factors such as the quality of services offered, the type of social experience encountered in the social media and the company's website quality. These factors complement the success of a social networking marketing plan, and they should be of high quality before considering marketing in the social media. Due to their visual nature, travel agencies should always use the video sharing websites and complement them with their other marketing strategies.

How To Use Social Networking Sites

After the decision to use the social networking sites has been agreed upon, it is important also to consider how to use the sites. The first method and the cheapest for the travel agencies is creating their account and the generating a network of customers. Using this method, the agencies can target the kind of customers they want and encourage the creation of content through creating conversation and debates. This way they gain important customer feedback by engaging them one on one. The second method of using the social media is through the respective companies advertisement platform that allows the agencies adverts to reach more users. This method has the advantage of reaching many users who are not necessarily part of the agencies network.


Chan, S. M., Cho, M., & Lee, S. (2013). User Perceptions of Social Media: A Comparative

Study of Perceived Characteristics and User Profiles by Social Media. Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, 3(4).

Inversini, A., & Masiero, L. (2014). Selling rooms online: the use of social media and online travel agents. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 26(2), 272-292. doi:10.1108/ijchm-03-2013-0140

Si, S. (2015). Social Media and Its Role in Marketing. Business and Economics Journal, 07(01). doi:10.4172/2151-6219.1000203

Yazdanifard, R., & Yee, L. T. (2014). Mpact of Social Networking Sites on Hospitality and Tourism Industries. Global Journal of HUMAN-SOCIAL SCIENCE: Economics , 14 (8).

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