Marielys Pagan

TikTok and Luxury Hotel & Resorts

Seizing or Overlooking an Opportunity?

TikTok is a modern marketing powerhouse. Previously underutilized, this platform is starting to make waves as one of the predominant forms of customer outreach and connection.

Those who have embraced TikTok are already seeing results, with data from Capterra revealing an impressive return on investment within just six months. Why, then, are so many brands reluctant to make the leap?

Adoption varies between industries and, currently, most businesses in the travel and hospitality sector (and especially within luxury travel) have yet to truly leverage the myriad of unique opportunities that TikTok presents.

When we took a deep dive into the realities of modern marketing for 50 high-end properties, we discovered that just 8 percent are active on TikTok. This is about to change, however, and businesses that get in on the movement early have the potential to build a strong following among passionate and highly engaged travel enthusiasts.

What's Behind the Recent Shift Towards TikTok?

For years, Instagram reigned supreme — and for good reason: this image-centric platform made it easy to show off aspirational photos of the most glamorous properties. From drone shots of white sand beaches to intimate photos of romantic dinners, Instagram captivated with its undeniably luxe aesthetics.

These advantages still make Instagram compelling from a marketing perspective and, as such, this tried-and-tested platform isn't about to fall out of favor anytime soon. Of the luxury hotels we surveyed, 87 percent post on Instagram approximately three times per week. At this point, it's uncommon — and unwise — to update Instagram sporadically.

Increasingly, however, it is evident that Instagram alone (or alongside Facebook) will no longer be good enough. A certain subset of travel enthusiasts feel somewhat jaded when they view the aspirational content they found enthralling just a few short years ago. Many crave authenticity over the outward appearance of luxury. No, they aren't ready to ditch gorgeous views and upscale finishes, but they do crave insights and experiences that feel truly original.

Who Responds to TikTok Travel Marketing?

TikTok is heavily associated with Gen Z, which was the first demographic to embrace the platform and remains its most dominant audience. Gen Z is not, however, the typical focus for luxury travel marketing, as these consumers are just starting to have some semblance of disposable income. Currently, target consumers are Baby Boomers and Gen X travelers, with some Millennials starting to enter this niche.

TikTok's appeal has expanded greatly these last few years, however, and it is increasingly easy to reach travelers of all ages on this platform. Even among those who have not already embraced the medium, many show a willingness to get involved in the future — they simply need compelling content that speaks to them and corresponds with their interests. Luxury travel businesses can respond to this by creating curated content that conveys the authentic appeal of upscale hospitality.

Top Strategies for Appealing to Upscale Travelers on TikTok

Within modern travel marketing, impactful social media initiatives call for a distinct approach that diverges both from the status quo of Instagram marketing and also from the types of videos most inclined to go viral on TikTok. Every brand strategy will look a bit different, but these suggestions are most likely to capture the attention of targeted TikTok users:

  • Educate viewers. Beautiful imagery alone will no longer cut it. Viewers now want to know what makes specific locations or attractions special. This should avoid coming across as overly sale-sy, and instead, strive to provide genuine value to aspiring travelers — especially those who are fascinated by the culture, climate, and general vibe of their intended destinations.
  • Offer behind-the-scenes details. Even if they are accompanied by millions of online viewers, TikTok users want to feel special. This is best accomplished with behind-the-scenes content that makes viewers feel as if they're part of an exclusive and privileged group of individuals. Often, this means detailing the 'how' behind the glossy Instagram photos or sharing unique details not typically revealed on other platforms.
  • Make 'em laugh. Humor can be a solid strategy for connecting with TikTok users, although its value depends largely on your company culture and the essence of your brand. If you think a goofy attitude fits your general vibe, go all in with relatable content that gets viewers laughing.

In general, the goal should be to ignite the flame and leave users craving more. They should feel compelled to continue viewing your content and, eventually, to shift towards real-world experiences by booking their dream vacation.

Travel TikTok Success Stories

For now, only a small subset of travel brands have a distinct presence on TikTok. These accounts are noteworthy not only because they are relatively rare, but also, because many have found unique ways to connect with their target audiences. These success stories prove that TikTok holds a bright future as hospitality marketing continues to evolve:

  • The Resort at Paws Up. This Montana-based resort evokes a unique blend of calm and adventure, with content highlighting the simple, yet elevated joys of upscale glamping: equestrian experiences, dogsledding, and gourmet camp dining, to name a few.
  • The Ranch at Rock Creek. Another Montana favorite with a strong TikTok presence, this highly regarded ranch demonstrates the thrill of rodeo adventures and the relaxed vibes of camp life while also conveying the upscale elements that keep luxury-minded travelers coming back for more.
  • Meliá Hotels International. From Mallorca to Thailand's Choeng Mon Beach, Meliá's amazing TikTok channel brings a uniquely immersive experience to viewers with evocative clips that capture memorable vibes all around the world. Curated playlists touch on the most impactful elements of the Meliá experience, highlighting everything from gastronomy to events and, of course, luxurious finishes.
  • Deer Valley Resort. As Park City's premier ski destination, Deer Valley takes a unique approach with its TikTok presence by emphasizing travel advice and recommendations. Narrated videos show vacationers how, for example, to fuel up for an exciting day of outdoor adventures. An especially helpful clip provides powder skiing suggestions from Olympian Jillian Vogtli.
  • Tawelu Retreats & Studio. Based in North Wales, this charming venue offers calming yoga retreats, so it's only natural that its TikTok page has equally calming vibes. Simple videos reveal the serene, yet connected experience enjoyed during curated retreats while emphasizing the value of slow living.

Working With Influencers

While only a few resorts and chains are currently going all out with TikTok marketing, many others look to influencers to do the hard work. TikTok travel influencers hold much in common with their Instagram counterparts, but their content is widely regarded as more data authentic and unique.

The Creator Marketplace sets the stage for powerful partnerships, allowing brands to hand-select the creators who most align with their vision and values. This is a preferred option for building brand awareness at the global level and also provides plenty of opportunities for experimenting with cutting-edge content.

Leveraging the Power of TikTok

TikTok is a force to be reckoned with and, while it is not currently the dominant marketing strategy in the luxury travel business, its role in this niche is clearly expanding. Curated content promises to engage and delight would-be travelers, going beyond mere brand awareness to convince them to book their dream vacations and discover unique destinations they might otherwise never consider.

This platform might not be ideal for every brand, but those seeking a new, more engaged audience can benefit greatly from partnering with influencers or sharing meaningful and deeply authentic content. Don't underestimate this powerful platform: it just might be the next big force for change in hospitality marketing.

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