SMMEs not only have to stay up to date and visible to their customers, but they can also play an integral role in keeping travellers dreaming about South Africa.
Here are three easy (and free!) ways to keep your customers dreaming about local travel, with tangible and practical advice on what you can do today to keep the wanderlust alive.
Keep things positive
We’re all acutely aware of the facts. While clear, informative and up-to-date communication should be the cornerstone of all your conversations with customers, keeping things positive is the simplest way you can keep travellers dreaming about South Africa.
Indeed, share the facts, establishing your SMME as a thought leader by sharing valuable information with your customer. But always keep it positive. Tone, be it positive or negative, is amplified on social media and with so much negativity available on default, posting and sharing with a defeated tone is the quickest motivator for your audience to hit the “unlike” button.
If you’re struggling to feel positive yourself, take the time to reset and rest. Go for a walk, do something that sparks your creativity and take a minute to write down just three things that spark your gratitude. Here’s why gratitude is so essential in keeping positive.
What to post on social media – advertise your business for free!
Now, more than ever, you have a captive online audience – the perfect way to advertise your business for minimal cost. On the flip side of the coin, however, the amount of noise (content) can be overwhelming to your audience. Quality over quantity has never been more critical.
Get the fundamentals right – Here’s how to create great social media content with pictures and videos. Have a good schedule in place, but you’ll need to check sentiment daily (see the point below).
Once you have the fundamentals in place and have checked sentiment, the fun begins. You can create quality, inspirational content by keeping it visual (through beautiful images), positive and forward-looking.
Social media, along with newsletters and even going old school by picking up the phone to say hello to a past customer to see how they’re doing, are all ways of advertising your business for minimal cost (if not free).
We’ve been wowed by some fantastic tourism campaigns keeping us dreaming of travel during coronavirus.
Here are a few of our favourites to inspire you:
- Like many countries, Maldives Tourism’s hashtag #VisitMaldivesLater is simple yet effective. By sharing incredible photos and videos of the destination, travellers are kept dreaming about the destination, while keeping the subtle call to action (bookmark for later) in their minds.
- South Africa Tourism’s “Just you wait until we can travel again, boy are we going to travel.”
- Kenya Tourism’s “The magic awaits.”
- Switzerland’s “Dream now, travel later.”
You don’t even need to even create your own hashtag. Get more traction by jumping on an existing one – for example, tag your posts with #SouthAfricaisTravelReady, #WanderlustWednesday and more.
Also, don’t get overwhelmed and think you need to reinvent the wheel. Ninety-nine per cent of the time, simple is the most effective. For example:
- Leverage user-generated content. Your biggest content pool and advocate? Your customers. Encourage Facebook fans and past guests to share their favourite memory, destination or trip with you. Invoke feelings of nostalgia and inspiration. Everyone loves sharing their story and making their voice heard. Give your audience the platform to do this, and they’ll pretty much do all the work for you.
- Position content in their current contexts. Encourage armchair travel by inviting comment around favourite travel movies, books, recipes that can be enjoyed at home while dreaming of the future.
- Meaningful connection. Strengthen the empathetic response – talk as one human to another, not a brand to a human. Share photos, videos and stories of your team. An excellent way to invite others to share their inspirational travel content, and to get excited about visiting in the future is by profiling your team. Get your team to film a quick video of themselves answering five questions or submit a photo and answers. This is evergreen contact that can be used again and again. Not only does it remind your audience that there are humans behind your brand, but it will jog their memory, promoting past guests to say ‘hi’ to their favourite tour guide, share their special memory or what they can’t wait to experience first when our borders open once again.
Having a good content and marketing calendar in place is a must (it doesn’t need to be fancy. In fact, the simpler, the better. Use a shared Google sheet or Airtable sheet so the team can update and make changes in real-time).
But be prepared to adjust messaging and content at a moment’s notice. Do daily sentiment checks to ensure that whatever message you’re sending out hits the right note.
First thing in the morning, do a sentiment check by:
- Browsing headlines on major news sites
- Setting up free Google alerts for keywords relevant to your industry
- Checking industry social media pages
- Checking non-related industry groups to check how ‘South Africa’ is feeling at large – example, neighbourhood WhatsApp groups or similar.
Checking sentiment by getting a feel for what people are feeling and talking about, will ensure that you can leverage that sentiment most effectively in your communications. It will also ensure that you never come across as tone-deaf.
With no cost, and easy to do, these tips will position you in a critical role – reminding travellers that this is a temporary pause on their travel plans, not a ‘stop’. In other words, keep the travel dream alive!