Check the socials: Why travel brands should keep TikTok in their targets

TikTok is the number one most downloaded app in 16 of the last 18 months, with over a billion users globally. A young person’s platform, three quarters of users (75%) are under the age of 35.

At the same time, millennials – those aged between 25 and 35 – spend over $1 trillion per year on travel, making them a hugely desirable audience for the travel sector. Despite this, the travel industry has been incredibly slow to recognise TikTok’s potential, let alone make full use of it.

Appearing at London’s TravelTech Show on 29 – 30 June, Socially Powerful’s head of strategy Lloyd Williams will be speaking about why the travel industry needs to step up and start using TikTok to speak to consumers.

According to Williams, there are a number of reasons the travel industry doesn’t already make the most of TikTok’s marketing potential.

“For starters, I think many brands discount it simply because they don’t know how to use it, or they think it won’t work for them because they think TikTok is just for teenagers,” he said.

“Of course, there’s also the small matter of the global pandemic, which pretty successfully clipped the wings of travel and content creators by bringing travel to a standstill. So the majority of people were travelling less – if at all – and consumer interest in the kind of Dubai luxury lifestyle some influencers were hell bent on pursuing seems to be waning.”

These three elements have meant that travel content is also changing and is doing so in a positive and exciting way – which is why Williams believes it’s “time for TikTok to step forward”.

“TikTok offers a massive opportunity for the travel industry because it is unfiltered and about being yourself,” he continued, adding that will “play a big part” in convincing people to travel again and to visit destinations they might not have considered before.

READ MORE: TikTok teams with Emplifi to give brands streamlined platform experience

“The ability of TikTok to present destinations authentically, to tell engaging stories, is a huge opportunity for travel. Not only because the travel industry has a moral obligation to present itself (and its destinations) in an authentic and unfiltered way, but also because, increasingly, it must hold itself up as a model of responsible tourism – and thereby facilitating travellers to also be more responsible.”

“Responsible tourism is going to be huge, and TikTok is a natural partner to really maximise the potential for brands to succeed in the space.”

Williams reiterates that TikTok presents an enormous audience, especially in terms of the next generation traveller who is excited to travel, driving the global response to climate change and wants a very different experience to what’s been on offer before.

“They don’t want to be tourists. They want to be immersed in the experience, to be part of it and not just onlookers, and TikTok really can help travel brands to achieve that,” he said.

“The biggest challenge for travel brands before they even get to this stage, though, is to peel themselves away from the traditional ‘glossy brochure’ holiday presentations and to ask themselves, ‘how do we market our products, destinations and services unfiltered’.”

There are some travel brands, of course, who are embracing TikTok. Williams points to Ryanair, which creates brilliantly tongue-in-cheek videos mocking customers and rival airlines on its feed.

“They are done so well that Gen-Z now has a completely different perception of the brand,” he added.

“Manitoba is somewhere you may not have heard of but its tourism board is doing TikTok like it’s meant to be done – it really feels like you are following a person not a brand.

“As far as I’m concerned, every travel brand targeting the under 55s should be on TikTok and if they’re not, they need to start thinking about how to be creative with content and start taking advantage of the brilliant opportunities it offers to be culturally relevant with their audience.”

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