US travel brands are turning to TikTok marketing to reach next-generation travelers – Skift

Social video app Tick ​​tock is best known for Animals performing tricks, People do stylized and trendy dance movesand random events like a baby is born in mid-flight. But TikTok’s usefulness for travel marketing for Generation Z and younger millennials is becoming more and more apparent to U.S. travel brands seeing the success of overseas brands on the platform.

Delta Airlines launched its first TikTok campaign in the US this week. According to the app, the campaign received over 19.5 million views in the first 36 hours, thanks in part to a partnership with TikTok.

Several U.S. travel brands had been reluctant to contract with TikTok until recently. A year ago, the Trump administration attempted to effectively ban the app from Apple and Alphabet’s Google app stores, but courts prevented the ban. In June, US President Joe Biden revoked the relevant implementing regulations and dispelled most of the clouds.

During the uncertainty, some US travel brands turned to “organic” efforts by targeting TikTok users through posts without paying the company to promote or coordinate campaigns such as: United AirlinesApril TikTok video Promoting travel and promoting exclusive discounts for Generation Z travelers.

This year Marriott’s Bonvoy loyalty program ran an organic Travel Makes Us campaign encouraging the community to create their own travel videos using Marriott’s custom song and hashtag montages. Posts with the hashtag #TravelMakesUs, such as This one here, received a total of 4.3 million views.

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But U.S. travel brands have also started formally partnering with TikTok this year to improve their results. American Airlines on August 2 began to let passengers access TikTok on their phones while in flight for up to half an hour without having to purchase WiFi access if the aircraft are narrowbody aircraft equipped with Viasat.

Screenshot of pop star Jason Derulo’s short video announcing Hotwire on TikTok.

In June, owned by the Expedia group Hot wire Launched the first travel-related hashtag challenge in the U.S. The brand paid about 20 YouTubers to create short videos that show why they’re ready for a getaway and where they want to go. The best video had a chance to win a $ 50,000 private jet trip. Hotwire dedicated pop star Jason Derulo, who has more than 47 million followers on TikTok, as a competition judge.

Currently the hashtag is #HotwireHotelGoals has 11.7 billion views. Yes, billion with a b. This is thanks to a partnership with TikTok to promote the visibility of the associated video clips. Digiday, an advertising news service, estimates the cost of working with a leading social media influencer on a hashtag challenge reach the six-digit.

In May, the Expedia Group Orbitz Brand – which recently started highlighting its search filters designed to help LGBTQ + travelers plan their trips – paid some YouTubers to create ads like this one from influencers Everett Williamsto a. to support Hashtag challenge.

US brands are catching up

Travel brands outside of the US have long appreciated the power of TikTok videos to increase awareness of their brands.

Travel-related hashtags for videos in the app are attracting a lot of views, according to TikTok, which was launched in 2018. Examples of using data from countries outside of China (which has a different and older app, Douyin, with different data) include #Travel with 49.3 billion views and 3.8 million videos created under the hashtag #Travel As of May 2021. The hashtag #tiktokreisen attracted 24.5 billion views; #Wanderlust has attracted 1.1 billion views, and # travel diaries generated 2.2 billion views.

About half of TikTok’s audience is under 34, according to the consulting firm Omni Core Agency. These young independent travelers could be among the first tourists to embark on international travel once restrictions ease, according to data analysts GlobalData.

But these younger consumers may not have much disposable income to plan trips yet, and the guys interested in TikTok may be changeable in their tastes for lack of a better word.

Marketing on TikTok is unpredictable due to its different formula

A few social media influencers have reported that TikTok travel marketing “unpredictable. “

The unpredictability comes in part from the TikTok algorithm, which favors “long-tail content”. It seems to be different from the kind used by US-based social media platforms, which tend to favor content with mass appeal in the traditional, mass-friendly sense.

Travel marketers trying to easily reuse content that was already popular on Instagram or other platforms on TikTok may be disappointed because TikTok works differently. TikTok essentially ensures that a Videos made by anyone, no matter how unknown, will be exposed to at least some User. It doesn’t just broadcast what has already proven popular. The more a user views and interacts with content, the better the app manages to send videos to the users that match their interests, hobbies, or preferences.

Also, not every travel marketing attempt on TikTok is a complete success. End of August that Kenya Tourism Association, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and International nature conservation team up to host a live wildlife event on TikTok at Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya to raise awareness of the need to protect wildlife.

The event was held with interruptions over a few days TikTok’s official Africa theme Page and pushed into many people’s feeds. But the Hashtag challenge hasn’t come up with much content on the Great Wildebeest Migration or conservation in general, according to Skift’s anecdotal research.

By the way: TikTok is not welcome everywhere. India banned the app last year. And many travel marketers remain cautious. A survey of 216 travel marketers around the world found 97 believed that the recovery in budget or advertising spending would not occur until between 2025 and 2030 – and another 38 travel marketers believed the recovery would not occur “after 2030”. The survey was conducted by the consulting firm WBR (Worldwide Business Research) Insights and a travel ad tech company Soybeans.

Another problem, by and large, is that the ad tech companies preferred by many travel companies have not yet joined TikTok’s Marketing Affiliate Programmaking it harder to run coordinated, cross-channel campaigns.

Travel brands are trying TikTok marketing with some success

Still, some midsize travel brands in Europe in particular have been ahead of the world when it comes to experimenting to see what works on TikTok. Some campaigns at the right time are popular with app users. Baleària, which is offering a ferry service in Spain this summer connecting popular destinations like Mallorca and Eivissa with ports like Barcelona and Valencia Hashtag challenge to encourage potential passengers to share their ideas for the dream vacation.

To make it easier for brands to market to users, TikTok has developed additional tools. In July, it launched a “Spark Ads” product with a native ad format. The ads allow brands to increase the number of views of organically generated posts or share relevant content posted by creators in the feeds that TikTokk can actively push users with.

The potential for travel brands to use the new ad format can be significant, although brands will have to experiment to find out. Theoretically, if an organic content creator gains importance and was in the embassy for a travel brand with a TikTok for Business account, the brand could increase the visibility of the post among user-generated content through the paid service.

So far, no travel-specific brand has used the service, said a TikTok spokesman. Regardless, the pandemic has led to a rethink in the Travel Creator Economy, as tourism associations and brands are reinventing their business models and messaging priorities – as Skift recently analyzed in Travel Creator Economy Resets for Next Boom. For more information, see yesterday’s story Social Media Influencers Sync with Startup Tools to Sell Travel.

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Image Credit: Screenshots from TikTok, the social media short video app that is increasingly useful for travel marketing as US travel brands. Tick ​​tock

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