Why Using Social Proof Is An Integral Part Of Increasing Travel Bookings

April 16, 2019
Maria Claudia Lira (she/her)
4 min read

Seen any amazing photos of someone you know on holiday recently which made you want to visit that specific place? We are sure you have, and we agree, we would love to be there too.

Most of the time they are highly optimized Instagram, Facebook or social media images and videos, that simply ignite the wanderlust in all of us. Seeing them produced and shared by our peers makes us want to go on that tour too, or journey to that destination as well.

Simply put, this is the idea behind social proof. It is to say that people will follow the actions of others. The good news is that this phenomenon can be leveraged to increase your travel bookings. Let’s start by exploring the concept further though.

Download FREE eBook

The Ultimate Guide To Scaling Your Tour Operator Business

A 150-page guide that covers everything from establishing a winning travel brand to delivering a market-leading service

Get My Free Guide

What Is Social Proof

When we speak of social proof, we assume that the actions of a large number of people influence the behavior or actions of others.

After all, if any number of people are posting their favorite holiday photos which depict Machu Picchu’s iconic view behind them, the place has to be worth a visit right? That many people can’t be wrong.

And if they are not wrong and instead are having a great time like they are projecting in their photos, you might consider getting in on the action yourself.

Social proof can take the form of social media tags and endorsements, customer reviews, industry association affiliation, client's images and videos, or influencer content among others.

Using social proof for travel bookings

Why Using It In Marketing Will Increase Travel Bookings

Naturally, every travel company wants to sell out their tours and fill up their destinations. It is a sign that business is going well and what you are doing is worthwhile. Obviously, in order to get to this point, you need to market your travel offering.

Have you noticed that clients on your tours are taking the sorts of photos we were just talking about? Do you think that the images will pique the interest of travelers who see them?

Well, sharing your client's social media worthy content (with their permission) across your own profiles as social proof, is a great marketing tool to increase sales conversions.

Group of travelers on a tour

There Is Safety In Numbers

While the entire phenomenon is based around the idea that so many figurative stamps of approval influence our decisions and can’t be wrong, there is something to say for the fact that the numbers really do speak for themselves.

Consider how reviews are used on TripAdvisor. Travelers check the feedback relating to specific tours prior to booking. Should the bulk of it be favorable, they are more likely to proceed with making the reservation.

Airbnb works on a similar model. Guests read the reviews of a place they are interested in prior to booking it. If the listing has too many negative reviews which have not been addressed correctly by the host, then this will more than likely result in the host losing out on securing the reservation.

Social proof for tour bookings

You Create Demand By Leveraging Scarcity

Think of the last time you were browsing one of the online travel marketplaces or a hotel website. Do you recall seeing an onsite message which let you know how many people have just booked a specific room or how many spots are left on a particular tour?

The technique is used to portray the illusion of scarcity, making the perceived tour or travel product seem more valuable because of the limited supply. A natural response is to act quickly and proceed with booking so as not to miss out.

How does this work with social proof though?

Well if you fill your social feed with your client’s images or videos, you create the impression of having well-attended tours. Keeping up a constant flow of content will help to create the demand, as people in the online space see the value your tour or product must surely be offering.

Obviously, you can also create a strategically placed on-site message on your travel website to target clients who are at a pivotal point in the booking funnel. Use your latest booking figures to drive the demand and highlight urgency.

Quick travel bookings

Build On Your Review Profiles

We have touched on how TripAdvisor and Airbnb rely on reviews to drive bookings, but these are not the only platforms where feedback on your business appears.

On the path to purchasing your travel product, travelers are going to consult reviews. These may appear on your Google Business Listing, Facebook, Yelp or Trustpilot profiles among others. It will depend on where you market your tours and where your customers are present online.

To create some cohesion and integrate your review profiles so that they display where it matters, you can use review site widgets. These will take reviews and endorsements left on profiles and display them on your website for visitors to see.

On your website, you can also display customer testimonials that have been left in guest books or sent via email, as well as share any social influencer content on your blog or social profiles. The more positive social proof you can collect and display, the more trust and conversions your travel business will gain.

User generated content for social proof

Other Benefits From Marketing Using Social Proof

Content Is Created For You

In addition to using social proof to increase travel bookings, it can also be useful to build up your library of shareable content.

As you know, content marketing is important to drive traffic to your website. To capture the attention of your audience, you need to share engaging and inspiring content, regularly.

At times it can become a stretch to constantly update your content library, be it with written text, images, or videos. Instead of having to go out and create all your quality content though, let your own happy clients generate it for you.

Provide them with guidelines which indicate what sort of images and content you are after, and let them know from the start what you will be using it for. This way seeking permission is handled outright.

Want to learn more about how to leverage user generated content for travel marketing, read our blog post for some valuable insights.