Travel experts say brands can expand their reach by finding compelling
uses for augmented reality and tapping into influencers’ vast numbers of followers.
Sanjay Bhatia, Meta’s director of travel, sees value in working with influencers to drive brand awareness and even boost conversions and bookings. He recommends that companies start small by “finding five to 10 creators that you want to work with, briefing them on what your business goals are [and] letting them go to work.”
A macro influencer could be a celebrity with millions of followers, while a micro influencer could be a local travel influencer with 100,000 followers, Bhatia told the audience during a panel discussion on social media engagement at The Phocuswright Conference in November in Phoenix.
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The session, Executive Panel: Social Engagement, also includes Kelly Covato, Snapchat’s U.S. head of travel, auto and energy and Martin Stoll, CEO of marketing agency Sparkloft Media.
Stoll says working with content creators and influencers on TikTok, Twitch, Discord and other new platforms can be effective, as long as you understand your audience and where they are “hanging out.”
“The proliferation of platforms is a challenge, but also an opportunity,” Stoll says. “There [are] now very distinct differences between the platforms, [even though] platforms try to be fast followers if a feature sticks.”
All three panelists say they see a strong future for augmented reality.
At Snapchat, “we don’t ask people to put on a headset or glasses. It happens through your phone,” Covato says.
“AR for us is not something we’re building for. It’s here. We have over 70% of our audience using AR every day. That’s 250 million people. That’s larger than Twitter’s global daily active users.”
Snapchat is using AR to raise awareness of the impact of climate change and the importance of sustainability. The platform launched #PlasticGate in Germany, “where we actually put people into an AR experience surrounded by plastic to help them understand what that feels like,” Covato says.
The proliferation of platforms is a challenge, but also an opportunity.
Martin Stoll - Sparkloft Media
According to Bhatia, 700 million people a month use augmented reality on Meta's platforms.
“We have some work to do in developing utility and use case” for AR in travel, he says, noting the potential for people to explore destinations such as the Grand Canyon using the technology.
Meta views AR “as a path to our big bet in the long term, which is the VR metaverse,” he adds.
In an interview in the PhocusWire Studio following the panel, Bhatia discusses customers’ changing expectations for Facebook, Instagram and other brands, why loyalty is up for grabs and why app advertising and partnerships are effective strategies.
View both interviews below.
Executive Panel: Social Engagement - Snapchat, Meta, Sparkloft at The Phocuswright Conference 2022
Executive Interview: Meta