Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade, you’ll have noticed that social media has fundamentally changed the way we communicate.

So, how has it affected the way that travel brands communicate with their customers and, more specifically, with customers at the luxury end of the spectrum?

To best explain this, it’s worth setting the scene. For starters, there’s a clear discrepancy in how different people define luxury; what’s considered luxury today will soon shift to become mainstream tomorrow. An example of this is the spa facility, which used to be a symbol of luxury and enough to give you well-warranted bragging rights. Today it’s regarded as a standard service in most four-star hotels and airport lounges. The problem with definition is even evident on Google, where a search for luxury holidays brings up a hotchpotch of results ranging from high-end offerings from well-known luxury travel brands to bargain package deals.

We’re also experiencing a real shift in values. Luxury travel is becoming less about the material aspects, such as opulent hotel receptions and freshly pressed bed linen and more about the intrinsic, intangible value of the experience itself. Nowadays luxury travellers are on a constant quest for discovery and adventure, wanting to do things that no-one else has done before and will perhaps never do again. So, against this backdrop, what role does social play?

The impact of social media:

Due to the authenticity of user-generated (or earned) content, there has been a revolution in not only the pre-buying journey, but also in the post-travel experience, when consumers actively turn to friends, colleagues, even strangers, for inspiration and information.

With easy access to destination guides and attraction recommendations - as well as photos of stunning locations, gastronomic delights and hotel bars - travellers nowadays readily share their experiences authentically and instantaneously.

Plus, the emerging space of influencer marketing where bloggers and vloggers can lend luxury brands a voice of credibility to highly engaged audiences reflects the changing rules of the game. According to Statista, the worldwide Instagram influencer market value is projected to more than double from 2017 levels to $2.38 billion in 2019.

Not only are luxury travel brands galvanising influencer campaigns across a multitude of social environments, they are also starting to recognise the true value in building longer term, always-on ‘ambassadorships’ with influencers in ways that simply aren’t possible with traditional media.

At the ETOA Digital City Visitor Conference on 12th June, I will be speaking on the power of social media as a channel when marketing destinations and attractions in more depth. To reserve your place, please click here.

Written by Accord Digital Strategist, Jon Bezalel.