How Facebook & Instagram Inspire Travel

February 17, 2021

Social media is a driving force for travel marketer’s success. In 2019, travel marketers allocated the majority of their digital budgets (28%) to social. But how is a travel marketer to choose which social platforms to advertise on? From TikTok, to SnapChat, to Pinterest, there is no shortage of options. 

Travelers spend five times more time on Facebook than any other travel-related touchpoint. Instagram, filled with user-generated photos and videos of destinations, hotels, and attractions, is a major source of inspiration for travelers. In our joint webinar, Facebook reported that in a survey of over 20,000 users on the platform, they discovered that travel is the #1 interest on Instagram, and 45% of people use Instagram for travel inspiration. 

If your travel brand isn’t there, another one will be. With billions of monthly users, the opportunity on Facebook & Instagram is massive. These platforms are constantly changing and increasingly competitive, with 5 million businesses advertising each month. 

A Social Overview

Let’s look at the basics of Facebook & Instagram to help you implement a strategy to reach travelers. 

Organic vs Paid Facebook & Instagram Media 

Organic social: Social activity without paid promotion. You’ll access a free set of tools to build and engage audiences. Organic social cultivates brand awareness, helps build trust with your audience, and, if done right, can offer a positive customer service experience. 

Paid social: Reach a larger audience and target ideal customers (many outside of your network) with advertising dollars. This type of advertising reinforces the messaging you’re sharing on organic social, while driving leads and conversions. 

A Look at Facebook Ads

A Look at Instagram Ads–Feed vs Stories

Feed: Posts in your feed are evergreen, they stay in your profile as long as you don’t delete them. Think of these posts as part of your official brand–your feed is the “face” of your company. When a traveler goes to your page to learn about your business, posts there will help them determine if they’d like to come visit you. The posts on your feed should rely on a more established strategy as the content is usually planned out. Most users scroll through their feed with sound off, so assume some of the content will be watched, not heard. 

Pro tip: Post the best images of your location, images from travelers who had a great time visiting you, and share holiday and seasonal updates.  

Stories: Stories can be more of an experience and are ideal for engaging your existing audience. Because they’re fleeting–they only last 24 hours–they can be shared in the moment without as much strategy behind them. They’re more casual and unofficial to your brand, which leaves room for experimentation. Take advantage of some fun sound on experiences with stories–70% are watched with sound on. 

Pro tip: Showcase a fun day your staff had or images and videos that bring a feeling in the moment. Is it snowing across parts of the world, but your hotel is beachside? Entice travelers with feeling like they’re already there and they’ll remember you when it’s time to book their getaway. 

Facebook & Instagram Make Travel Marketing Easy  

Ads on these platforms are more engaging and native to the platform compared to many other channels. Programmatic is a great example of that–when you spot a banner ad, it draws you away from the content. Facebook and Instagram advertisements blend in with the content you’re viewing. It keeps the experience more organic. 

Facebook’s ability to analyze performance across devices is superior when compared to other channels. Most users access these platforms on a mobile device but often feel more comfortable booking trips via desktop. For example, on Facebook campaigns Sojern manages, we serve the majority of ads to users on mobile devices–the devices used for inspiration for trips–and can track and measure performance when they book their trips on a desktop. 

Facebook’s ad delivery system is very effective. Input the specific campaign objectives to let Facebook know how to optimize who to serve ads to. This ensures you target an interested audience, and encourage them to perform specific actions, always keeping the ads engaging for users. In short, helping you to advertise to the right traveler, at the right time, with the right message. 

Travel Audiences to Target Travelers

Facebook & Instagram provide the unique opportunity to target travelers at every stage of their path to purchase–from discovery, to planning, and booking. Through Trip Consideration and Custom Audiences, reaching the right travelers on platforms that drive engagement is more efficient. Use trip consideration audiences during the discovery phase of the path to purchase. Trip consideration helps identify or prospect new travelers within the Facebook & Instagram ecosystem, and influences them to go directly to your website to learn more and book. For example, a traveler is interested in taking a winter trip and you place ads of your ski resort in front of them. 

Custom Audiences allow you to layer your data or partner data into Facebook to further enhance targeting. For an example of how this would work with partner data, when working with Sojern, you can use Sojern’s Travel Audiences on Facebook. With our unique travel data partnerships, we know, in real-time, when someone is searching or booking travel to your destination. We use these searches and bookings as ‘travel intent signals’ and they power our campaigns across display, video, native, and more. Custom audiences allow us to include these audiences in Facebook campaigns, along with additional support from targeting and performance tactics. We optimize campaigns to audiences, tactics, and targeting that get the best performance for KPI goals. 

Multi-Channel Marketing to Reach Travelers Across the Path to Purchase

While social media is a very important part of digital marketing and one of the best ways to reach travelers, implementing a multi-channel marketing strategy is becoming increasingly important. Travelers are using different devices and spending time on different channels every day looking for inspiration and planning their trips. Customers working with Sojern who ran Facebook & Instagram, display, and Search Engine Marketing on a campaign together saw 2X the number of conversions. Learn more about Eat.Drink.Sleep, a hotel that implemented a multi-channel digital marketing strategy and saw a 7X ROI. 

“Travel marketers need to diversify with a multi-channel approach and not rely too heavily on any one channel. Travelers aren’t using only one channel—they’re shopping for travel on multiple devices and websites, researching on social media, and so on. This also allows for generating improved insight into customer preferences, better targeting parameters for campaigns, and ongoing dialogue with customers as they move from planning to purchase.” Kurt Weinsheimer Chief Solutions Officer, Sojern

Want to learn more about Facebook & Instagram’s tailored solutions for the travel industry? In our Facebook & Instagram Digital 101 webinar, Facebook joins us to cover one of the fastest growing channels for travel marketers.

Or talk to a Sojern expert today to discuss implementing a new digital marketing strategy.


About Christy Jobman

Christy is Sojern's Marketing Manager, US, Canada, & LATAM. She loves all things communications and she's so happy to be using the Communications/Journalism degree she earned at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. When she's not building relationships and cross collaborating to build out collateral for the sales teams and account managers at Sojern, she's coaching at her gym, dabbling in the non-profits world, exploring, and cooking new dishes.

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