If there’s one thing we know about travel and social media, it’s that people absolutely love showing off their adventures. They’re living their best lives, vibing, posting pictures without filters, and generally filling their friends and followers with envy.
You as a travel agent play a key role in delivering these dream trips. You likely also know the power of social media as a tool to reach and interact with new and existing clients. While you should continue to leverage Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to promote your business, there’s a newer social media platform you should strongly consider adding to your network: TikTok.
The video-sharing app has surged in popularity and now boasts more than 850 million monthly users, including 100 million in the United States. That’s a huge amount of potential clients, and most of them fall under a coveted demographic: Some 78% of active TikTok users are younger than 39.
If you want to book more travel for millennials and Gen Zers then this is the place to reach them. And if you do TikTok well, you’ll not only grow your audience, but also help clients build their own travel social media brands.
Here’s how travel agents can best utilize TikTok.
General TikTok Tips
TikTok is informative, but more importantly, it's fun. It’s not formal. Brevity is essential, as no videos exceed 60 seconds in length. Some of the most successful videos are far shorter.
That means users make the most of their posts with informal statements, hashtags, and hyped language. For example, they describe travels as "adventures," a word that better encapsulates the spontaneity and excitement of the trip than "vacations," which a lot of younger travelers see as dated.
These distinctions are important to understand as you build your account, so when you start using TikTok really take note of the style and language choices that abound on the app. (There are some great resources to help you with the basics, such as this blog.)
To keep your own presence casual, your profile should include snippets of what you do instead of full sentences. It could read something like this:
Mexico the right way ⛱
Ready for adventure? Click below for my tips
[With a link to your business page.]
You should also share your Instagram handle (and yes, you should be on Instagram) and throw in some emojis for good measure.
As far as who to follow, start out with small- to mid-size travel accounts. Check out what they do, and interact with engaging questions and comments. They’re far more likely to respond than large, branded accounts. Finally, track trends by checking in on travel hashtags: #travelhack, #traveltok, and #tiktoktravel, for example. Be active and learn. Soon you’ll carve out your niche.
Share Your Expertise
Sharing your expertise is about finding the right balance. After all, there’s an excellent chance TikTok’s youngest users, who have grown up in an online-booking world, don’t have any experience working with travel agents nor an understanding of their roles. If you fill your TikToks solely with booking information or the ins and outs of your profession, you probably won’t grow your audience.
However, if you mix in fun elements with useful information—the five must-have items when you’re heading to the beach, travel hacks you need to know, the shoes you didn’t know you needed, to name a few—you’ll find your followers are turning to you for more than just booking services. And that’s always the goal to cultivate lasting relationships.
Show Off Your Own Travels
Millennials and especially Gen Zers want to carve out their own paths. The classic locales, high-end hotels, and traditional hotspots don’t necessarily appeal to them. They’re interested in experiences and adventures that are off-the-beaten-path and authentic. If you find them a secret spot they can mark in some ways as their own, that’s ideal.
Keep that in mind as you share your own travels, whether it’s a hike to a beautiful view, a day at a secluded beach, or a city block filled with Instagrammable brick facades. Record video with the camera in front to give your viewers a point-of-view perspective. In doing so, you’ll convey that your trips are true personal excursions and not your run-of-the-mill vacations.
Build a Brand
Once you get the hang of TikTok, don’t be afraid to jump on the trends. Capitalizing on these and memes, so long as they’re done authentically, can boost your profile and establish you as a worthy follow. One example is the "What people think I do vs. what I actually do" meme. It’s an opportunity to show some personality while providing insight into your services, especially given that younger travelers may not know what travel agents actually do.
You can also build your own series, like a "Tuesday Travel Minute" or "Secret Day Trips From New York," or even advertise particularly hot deals the same day, every week.
No matter what you do, have fun with it. No young traveler looks forward to dealing with a booking engine, but they may be excited to speak more with you if you show them what you can offer.
Now that you've created your TikTok account, be sure to follow InteleTravel! Tag us in your videos, so we can all get in on the fun.