For active travelers ages 28 to 48, the Ends of the Earth online community is a source of expert information and inspiration, which helps people plan their next vacation, encourages them to share travel experiences with others, and rewards them for their loyalty.
Ends of the Earth aims to extend its reputation for world-class customer service, and unsurpassed adventure travel expertise, by building the largest and most passionate online adventure travel community.
Adventure travel and tourism is an $89 billion dollar business. Over 36 million Americans booked vacation travel in 2012, and an estimated 6.3 million purchased a group tour or other organized vacation package. Studies find the internet plays an increasing role in researching and booking vacation travel. In 2011, 76% of travelers reported researching their vacations online. 37% booked tours or accommodations online.
The increased use of the web as a vacation-planning tool dovetails perfectly with consumers’ growing reliance on word-of-mouth recommendations and “social proof” to guide their buying decisions. Some 68% of consumers trust, and are influenced by, online ratings and reviews from other consumers.
Adventure travel and tourism is a competitive space, and the social media landscape already reflects that competition. Our major rivals are already active, in varying degrees, on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Pinterest, as well as specialty channels like TripAdvisor and GORP.
It is urgent we ramp up our own efforts so as to not cede visibility to rival companies. At the same time, we see that some of the biggest names in our industry have rather small and anemic online programs—which represents a major opportunity for us to leapfrog the competition.
Ends of the Earth Tours: We currently have 12,000 Facebook fans, 235 Twitter followers, and no activity on YouTube. We have 58 ratings on TripAdvisor with an average rating of 3.75 stars, but we do not post to the site ourselves, nor do we have an active advertising presence on the site.
Social Media Strategy
Engage with existing travelers to encourage them to spread the word about us through referrals and positive reviews, to bolster their fond memories of their travel with us, and to increase their likelihood of booking with us in the future.
For travelers currently booked on an upcoming trip, establish and promote small Facebook communities dedicated to specific destinations and bookings. Use these to establish group cohesion, chemistry, high morale, and burgeoning friendships, even before a tour group hits day one. We expect this tactic will make for successful group dynamics that will lead to more positive customer satisfaction surveys and greater likelihood that customers will be repeat travelers in the future.
Facebook: Facebook will be the focus of most of our efforts for daily community interaction, content posting, and support of sweepstakes campaigns. Facebook will serve goals of acquiring new customers, and engaging with existing customers. In addition to our main Facebook community, we will maintain several small ones dedicated to specific tours in order to build cohesion and community within our tour groups.
Currently, our social media efforts are run through one full-time social media staffer and partial-time allocation of three other staffers, and as-needed thirdparty services. Here’s how it lays out: Marketing Director: The project charter/owner of our social media program, she is responsibility for business planning, strategic leadership, budget allocation, and attainment of goal metrics. She dedicates approximately 5% of her time to social media, and anticipates this rising to 10% by next year.
In addition to formal campaign promotion, we will also devote a small “Surprise and Delight” budget to giving free gifts, receptions, webinars, and discount offers to our biggest advocates in social media, VIP bloggers, travel media, and other influential people.