Whether it’s a group of college students taking a break before spring finals or a family of five reconnecting during the school year, Spring Break is a time-honored American vacation tradition. This year’s top spring break vacation destinations included New York City, Rome, Orlando, Paris, Las Vegas, Cancun, and more. With a myriad of choices available to potential spring breakers, how can your destination achieve an exclusive, hot-spot vibe? Your spring break marketing plan needs to include more than just a few paid for TV spots and in-flight magazine ads. You need a formalized plan that empowers your destination’s biggest fans to easily share their love in their social media feeds. Developing an advocacy marketing program can be the key to ensuring your location stands out as the travel destination this spring break.
Advocacy Marketing–What is it?
You can shell out millions of dollars to get your travel commercial spot hopefully seen by hundreds and maybe even thousands of potential travelers. Or, you can spend a fraction of your budget on a system that’s been proven to yield a 650% ROI for every dollar invested – advocacy marketing.
The average social media user has around 400 – 600 friends, families, and followers they’re connected to on social media. Once one of your fans becomes a member of your advocacy marketing program, they’ll have the opportunity to share all your exciting branded content with their entire social network, multiplying the reach of your post exponentially.
In short, an advocacy marketing helps to:
- Drive awareness of your vacation destination
- Facilitate engagement and sharing of your branded content
- Provide multiple trust-building touch points – every individual that shares your content also passes along their personal stamp of approval with each post (92% of individuals say they trust earned media (word-of-mouth, a.k.a. advocacy marketing) over all other forms of marketing
Trust is key when it comes to winning a spring breakers travel choice. Vacations are a risky proposition. Not only are they expensive, but they also carry a high opportunity cost. The more trust you can build with would-be vacationers, the more likely they are to choose your city/attraction/beach/museum for their dream-cation.
A Quick Note on Timing
While larger trips are typically planned months (or even years) in advance, most spring break vacations are planned within a month (27%) or even a few weeks (19%) of the vacation dates. It’s also important to note that around the U.S., spring break is a staggered affair that can last from early March to mid-April.
The key takeaway from this data? Start your heavy advocacy marketing content push early in Q1.. That will give your campaign enough time to capture the early planners, while also giving you an option to saturate the market for those last-minute booking types.
With less than 90-days to go, now’s the perfect time to get your advocacy marketing ducks in a row. 90-days is plenty of time to get an advocacy marketing designed, live, and filled to the brim with your biggest social fans. Learn more in our 90-Days to Launch Advocacy Marketing Guide.
3 Ways to Use Advocacy Marketing in Your Spring Break Marketing Campaigns
1) Segment Your Content by Vacation Audience
A solid advocacy marketing campaign is built on a foundation of strong content. Content that resonates with your audience (and your audience’s audience) and speaks to their specific vacation pain points and fears.
For many in the tourism and travel industry, spring break market segmentation comes in two flavors:
- Younger College Students
As an advocacy marketing best practice, we recommend that you select one segment to target with your advocacy marketing efforts.
Content that appeals to your party-seeking Gen Z’ers (Top Bars, Most Scandalous Beaches, Cheapest Hotels) is not going to appeal to a other of 5 looking for a family-friendly vacation destination.
Keep in mind too that most people’s social connections are composed of their peers. College students are more likely to be socially connected to other college students, and families with other families. By creating and sharing content that resonates with your chosen advocacy segment, you, by default, create content their peers will also find engaging, informative, and helpful to their own vacation-making process.
2) Host A Photo Sharing Contest
About 52% of Facebook users say their friends’ or families’ photos inspire them to book a trip to a specific destination. The more amazing pictures your fans are taking (and sharing), the more awesome your tourism brand looks on social media.
So, how can you incentivize your fans to share their photos online, while also encouraging their friends and family to book their own trip? Host a photo-sharing contest through your advocacy marketing program.
Sponsor a fun promotion that your fans can enter by sharing and submitting their favorite pictures from a previous vacation (or have them share aspirational images of their desired vacation). Consider awarding free swag, prizes, or even discounts off their next vacation.
Pro Tip: Not sure how to manage a user-generated content contest? We can help! SocialToaster is an award-winning advocacy marketing program that helps brands and businesses, big and small, create incredible campaigns. Using your biggest fans and some new ones as well, together we can make something wonderful happen.
3) Utilize Micro-influencers
From Doug the Pug to Kylie Jenner, there’s a broad range of influencers online that guide people on what to buy, what to eat, where to shop, and what magical destinations should be on their vacation short list. Of course, getting someone like Kylie Jenner, who charges upwards of $1 million dollars, isn’t practical for most travel and tourism brands. Thankfully, the rise of micro-influencers has given brands and marketers a chance to utilize and access the power of influencer marketing at a smaller, more affordable scale.
Micro-influencers are social media personalities that have anywhere between 10,000 and 100,000 followers. Sure, they’re following count might not carry the same punch as a Jenner, but don’t let that (small) number stop you from tapping into their influencing power.
82% of consumers have a higher likelihood of acting upon a recommendation from a micro-influencer. Micro-influencers have a tight-knit relationship with their audience that large-scale celebrities can’t come close to matching. Additionally, micro-influencers cover a wide range of different niches, which means you can utilize a wide range of influencers to promote to your specific targeted demographic.
Micro-Influencers are the perfect complement to your everyday fans and current advocates. Invite them to participate in your advocacy marketing efforts and watch your reach, engagement, and ROI shoot through the stratosphere!
Upgrade Your Stay with These Bonus Tips
The advocacy marketing tips are just the tip of the iceberg. At SocialToaster, we’ve helped dozens of tourism and travel brands launch their advocacy marketing efforts. Here are a few of our favorite lessons learned from these travel brand stars:
- Show off a bit by sharing your positive Yelp, Google, or Facebook reviews.
- Take plenty of videos and use your advocates to share those videos with their friends/fans.
- Build lifelong love by incentivizing your advocacy marketing program and give your biggest fans the opportunity to take their next vacation for free.
- Share the human side of your travel brand – the local restaurant owners, hotel workers, etc.
- Paint a specific picture of the full vacation experience (accommodations, food options, activities)
With an advocacy marketing program, there’s no limit to the type of content you can create and share through your fans. The more interesting and diverse your content mix, the greater your opportunity to make a lasting impact with your advocates and their social family.
Let’s Fly Away Together
If you’re ready to put away those winter coats and start thinking about your spring break fun, let’s talk! SocialToaster can help you create an advocacy marketing program that’s fun for you and your advocates. Contact us at 855.62.TOAST or send us an email to request a free demo!