It’s time for travel and tourism brands to get on TikTok

It’s time for travel and tourism brands to get on TikTok

You’ve probably heard of TikTok. Gen Z’s go-to social platform has been making waves in recent months as more and more people stay inside and look to social media for escapism. If you’re like most marketers, you’re probably wondering if you should be on TikTok. Many brands have started building out their presence on the fledgling platform—the NBA, Red Bull, and Nickelodeon all have over 1 million followers already—but it’s still relatively early in the game. Now is the time to get in on the action.

The value of TikTok for travel brands

Travel brands may overlook TikTok’s younger audience in favor of older, wealthier potential visitors, but today’s teens are tomorrow’s travelers. These users are just starting to determine what types of destinations and experiences appeal to them and are in the early stages of building out their bucket lists. It’s a perfect opportunity to marry young viewers’ desire for entertainment and inspiration with the unique travel experiences your brand has to offer. Not ready to go all in on Gen Z? Beyond their own future travels, over 4 in 5 parents say they involve their children in purchases more than their own parents did with them, and that includes travel decisions (1). You may be surprised to learn that there are plenty of adults on TikTok too. In fact, over 60% of TikTokkers in China are in the 25-44 age bracket (2). For marketers with limited paid media budgets, the organic reach of TikTok will go much further than on other platforms in reaching these key audiences, with far more opportunity for virality. 

Travel content still a relatively untapped opportunity

TikTok has been around since 2018, and a few accounts are pushing 50M followers, but it’s not too late to be early. The best part about TikTok is the early-adopter advantage. Simply put, travel content on TikTok is in its infancy. There are some very talented creators flexing their creative muscles via travel content, but you’ll find a lot of reposting from other social platforms. In terms of the industry, the established travel media brands have been slow to adopt; Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) are few and far between as well. There is a real opportunity to lead and create relationships with new audiences that will last well into the future.

How to get started: do’s and don'ts

Do: Spend a significant amount of time on the platform before making any judgements. Your “For You” feed may have some silly dance videos, but you’ll be blown away by the creativity of TikTokkers and their ability to succinctly convey entertaining and useful information.

Don’t: Repost your Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube content here. A beautiful drone travel video clip might do OK on TikTok, but it won’t capitalize on the full potential of the platform. TikTok is fundamentally different — users are looking for unpolished and relatable content, not filtered and manicured perfection. Your smartphone is all you need. 

Do: Bring in your brand’s personalities. Even more than YouTube, personalities are a driving force on TikTok. Show what your employees, brand ambassadors, and key figures are up to. It doesn’t matter if they’re at the office, working an event, or are at home — personalities are what keep people coming back on TikTok.

Don’t: Force it. Music and dancing are popular on TikTok, but there’s nothing cringier than a brand retrofitting an existing idea into a dance challenge. That doesn’t mean these things are off-limits, they just require original thinking. Tourism Ireland could probably have a lot of fun with a traditional Irish dance challenge while Visit Korea could certainly build upon the booming popularity of K-pop on TikTok.

Do: Challenge the traditional ways of storytelling. TikToks are often made up of several rapid cuts, rather than a single 15-second narrative. Experiment with tease/reveal storytelling and step-by-step visuals with text rather than trying to squeeze in a traditional story arc. TikToks that “pull the rug out” with a plot twist often get rewatched and reshared more frequently than expected posts.

Don’t: Forget about Duets, Reactions, and Stitches. These novel features can allow your brand to join in on viral trends, collaborate with influencers (yielding added branded exposure), and interact with your partners in fun and interesting ways. Don’t know what duets, reactions, and stitches are? Contact us to learn more.

What’s next

TikTok continues to ramp up its paid advertising capabilities and reporting, which is exciting for advertisers looking to reach younger audiences, but we can’t wait to see how travel brands build out their organic presence in the coming months. The sky is the limit in terms of creative potential. Airlines could have some fun with airplane safety briefing TikToks, DMOs can create new interest in established tourism sites via unique angles that play with perspective, and travel creators will undoubtedly bring short-form storytelling to new heights. If you want to see what the BD team is up to on TikTok, you can follow us @beautifuldestinations. To learn more about digital storytelling in a broader sense, send us a note at contact@beautifuldestinations.com 

About Beautiful Destinations

Beautiful Destinations is a disruptive full-service travel marketing company with a bold mission: to have a positive impact on the world through travel. Rooted in one of the largest social media communities of travelers in the world — 25 million people turn to us daily on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, and TikTok  — Beautiful Destinations is a strategic and creative agency that helps tourism boards and travel brands navigate the new world of travel through modern marketing for modern travelers. 

Sources:

  1. National Retail Federation “Keeping up with Gen Z: Fall 2019 Consumer View” (2019)
  2. Global Web Index “Is Time Against TikTok?” (2019)