Social Media: A Tourism Game-Changer in 2021
Social media has become a lifeline during the pandemic, with people turning to their devices for connections with far-flung family, friends and colleagues.
The COVID-19-related social stats are staggering: a 10% jump since the start of 2020, over half the world is now active on social media.
That’s four billion people, spending an average of 15% of their daily time browsing social media. In Western Europe, Instagram’s monthly user count tripled the pre-pandemic estimates, propelling that platform to over one billion users for the first time. Similar trends were seen across other platforms, such as Facebook, Snapchat and TikTok, which all registered massive spikes in usage.
Surging social media use is a bright spot for brands looking to engage with consumers while stuck at home. The pandemic has accelerated the shift to digital, resulting in a 61.7% jump in North American advertising spend on social media during Q3 2020.
So, how will this all play out in 2021? Social media will remain a powerful communications and brand marketing tool. With social at the center of consumer engagement, it’s time to prepare for the year ahead. Here's what you need to know to stay on top of the social game in 2021!
2020 was a challenging year not just economically but also mentally, physically and spiritually. This has taken its toll, leading to a heightened focus on wellness. Travelers are already researching wellness-related experiences that restore and rejuvenate. Terms such as "immersive,", "mindful travel," "sensory" and "local" are currently trending, as travelers look for hotels to offer more wellness options.
Travelers don’t yet feel comfortable receiving indoor or direct therapy treatments and are seeking opportunities to recharge and restore through alternative amenities offered by resorts. On-property wellness offerings that connect guests with nature in a socially-distanced way, such as open-air yoga or sound baths, have priority in planning and purchase decisions.
In mid-2021, as vaccines go mainstream, travelers will then turn to spa treatments and other indoor wellness experiences.
Audiences are driven to engage with brands that value social impact, whether directly through their product or via a relevant cause. This is especially true among millennials, a demographic that’s primed to travel the most in the coming year: 75% expect brands to take a stance on the social issues that matter most to them. Brands that can speak about these issues authentically - and help guests make a difference - will have a leg-up in 2021.
Also, sustainability and environmentalism are key. The pandemic triggered a worldwide conversation about regenerative tourism, which puts local preservation ahead of economic imperatives.
Many destinations plan to reopen their tourism economies in ways that don't sacrifice the well-being of the environment or local citizens. This theme is a high-impact, high visibility opportunity in the year ahead.
With social commerce, social media becomes an integral part of the buying experience. In-app shopping tools and capabilities will continue to evolve as consumers turn to social as their new go-to marketplace. This includes reviews from friends, as well as influencer recommendations that “influence” buying decisions.
Social media also connects groups to discuss potential trips, which makes Instagram direct messages and Facebook Groups an informal channel for trip planning. To align with this trend, share detailed itineraries and fun trip ideas on your social handles and encourage followers to tag friends and family.