How TikTok is impacting the travel & tourism industry & how brands are taking advantage
TikTok’s the new kid on the social media block, relatively speaking, and many travel and tourism brands are taking full advantage. Wish you were here? Having watched over 500 #TravelTikTok videos, here’s what we learned about TikTok, its users and how brands in the travel industry use the platform to drive brand discovery and sales.
Travel and tourism on TikTok isn’t just about visiting far-flung, exotic destinations (although that is clearly part of it!). It’s also about those arguably-less-glamorous (yet no less engaging) experiences in home towns, nearby cities and staycations — even theme parks.
After all, a fish butty from Coventry’s Binley Mega Chippy hardly compares to a five-star all-inclusive in The Seychelles, does it?
TikTok & the travel industry — a fast-growing, go-to getaway inspiration hub
Predominantly, TikTok acts as a highly visual, video-led hub for tourism inspiration, tips and guides — very much ‘show, don’t tell’ with highly-consumable, aesthetically engaging and authentic content. As TikTok users with an interest in travel interact with travel videos and their creators, they are then served more of this type of content on their ‘for you’ page.
Interestingly, too, many people are increasingly using TikTok proactively as part of their travel plans. Almost like a search engine, users are actively seeking things to do in their destination of choice — clearly presenting opportunities for travel content creators and brands alike.
So, the majority of #TravelTikTok is relatively young — Generation Z — but they’re certainly an important demographic for travel brands. Globally, 39% of Gen Z use social media platforms like TikTok to help plan their holidays, with one-fifth following travel influencers on social media. This is a particular trend amongst those living in the UK, Ireland, Canada, Greece and Iceland.
Apart from the #TravelTikTok hashtag, those with an interest in travel are also consuming videos under the #Vacation, #TravelLife, #Forest, #TravelTok, #Rollercoaster, #ThemePark, #Getaway and #AllInclusive hashtags.
Wanting to tap into a group seeking more travel experiences as they leave school, college and university and more gain financial independence? These are your people.
What do #TravelTikTok users want and care about?
First and foremost, #TravelTikTok users are using social media in order to seek out new and unique experiences for great social media content — 43% of Generation Z and 37% of Millennials (aged 26-41), according to YouGov. Both demographics show a fairly equal desire for domestic (41%) and international (34%) holidays and travel.
There’s also a strong desire for more travelling; a quarter of Gen Z plan to take two trips annually, with 16% planning three getaways per year.
18–24 year olds are also keen to invest to achieve their travel goals with four in 10 planning to spend more on travel products and services over the next year. This compares to a quarter of Millennials and a fifth of 35-44 and 45-54 year olds. Gen Z are more open to saving and splurging when it comes to travel.
That said, price is a barrier to some — 37% of Gen Z, to be precise — which shows the benefit and attraction of offers and clear value messaging.
Sustainable travel is also important to #TravelTikTok users (and those all-important Gen Z users). 28% of this demographic would prefer to stay in eco-friendly or green accommodation and this group also over-indexes for volunteering and ecotourism style holidays.
So, unique experiences and eco-friendly travel are two interesting themes powering Gen Z and #TravelTikTok consumer behaviour.
12 top tips for driving travel and tourism bookings using TikTok
The average TikTok user in the UK spends 27.3 hours per month engaging with content on TikTok, and our travel-hungry Gen Z and Millennial audiences are no exception. If you’re a travel brand wanting to tap into these tourism-happy, eager-to-spend demographics, TikTok content creation should be a key part of your social media strategy.
From ensuring your content entertains (rather than sells) to working with the right creators and using the top-trending sounds, there are many ways that travel brands can crack #TravelTikTok to create engaging, inspiring and discovery-driving content!
1. Create TikTok content that entertains, rather than sells
75% TikToks users come to the platform to be entertained. So start by listing all the things that make your experience unique, fun, interesting and unmissable. Then use video to tell the story around each of those experiences - and don’t forget to put your ideal customer at the heart of it.
Your content doesn’t necessarily have to be uber high quality or super polished; keep the focus on what’s distinctive about you — the story you’re trying to tell, rather than trying to sell anything other than the dream.
2. Nail down the who and the what
#TravelTikTok is broad and diverse. Are you about romantic getaways, family vacations, hotel breaks, budget breaks or all-out luxury? Your creative, caption, voiceover, hashtags and any copy (hooks) within your video content should reflect who you’re targeting.
In the story you tell, you need to clearly distinguish what you’re offering. What’s the occasion? A short break, day at the zoo, road trip, special occasion (wedding, birthday, anniversary), walking, hiking, an escape to nature, activity-fuelled adventure (surfing or climbing)?
3. Have a good hook
You’re going to want to capture your audience's attention in the first 3 seconds of your video, or you risk them scrolling past your content never to be seen again. So here’s eight of our favourite tried and tested hooks to get you started:
This is your sign to…
How to do [insert destination] on a budget
Here’s what [insert destination] is really like
3 places you have to visit in [destination]
POV: You just arrived at [insert destination]
Things to do at [insert destination] part 1
Here’s why you need to travel to [insert destination]
Let me tell you about…
Given that many Gen Z users — the mainstay of #TravelTikTok — may not have (or could only just be gaining) financial independence, presenting yours as a ‘budget friendly’ way of enjoying a place or experience can be powerful. Millennials may also appreciate it greatly, given cost of living pressures.
4. Work with creators
Having someone else tell your story can not only relieve you of some of the workload, but can be more compelling and authentic, allowing you to tap into the creator’s engaged, established following.
One of our favourite ways to do this at the moment is to use TikTok’s creator marketplace to find and contact creators in your region and industry.
You can also manually research the top creators based on keywords and hashtags relating to your travel experience. TikTok’s search feature is only getting better; use it to discover hashtags and phrases that fit your travel niche and identify those actively creating high-performing content.
Whilst we’ve only ever used it for Instagram campaigns, TRIBE is a well-known influencer platform that was recently announced as TikTok’s official marketing partner at the Cannes Lions International Festival. Certainly one to explore!
5. Use the top trending travel sounds
TikTok users search by sounds to discover further related content, and these sounds themselves can trend on a platform. Using those that are enjoying popularity can make your TikTok travel content more discoverable.
Search the travel hashtags on TikTok — #TravelTikTok, #vacation, #travellife, #forest, #TravelTok, #rollercoaster, #themepark, #getaway, #allinclusive, #budgetfriendlytravel. Which sounds — the audio accompanying the clips — are popular or trending? Select the sound in the bottom-right corner and choose ‘use this sound’ for your next video.
You’ll need a creator account (rather than a business account) to do this.
6. Use relevant hashtags when creating your videos
TikTok captions are limited to 300 characters, so with this in mind try to stick to no more than 3-5 hashtags.
When creating the caption to accompany your video, make use of those hashtags your customers will be browsing — these might be trending, local or incredibly niche. Think #ThingsToDoInLondon, #sustainabletravel, #budgetfriendlytravel or even #rollercoaster, #zoo or #travelbucketlist!
7. Use postcodes of your travel experience
If you’re a domestic tourist attraction, including address details (perhaps most simply, a postcode) can help people easily discover how quickly they’re able to reach you. Be sure to make them wait until the end of the video to grab it, however to maximise watch time!
8. Make use of city targeting ads (when they are available)
These are coming soon and will enable you to geo-target your ads — clearly a more efficient, effective way of reaching those closest to you and your travel experience.
9. Increase your watch time
Keep users engaged and waiting until the end of your video; on tenterhooks for a reveal, discount code or post code. The more people who watch your videos, the more likely the content is to be served up to other users.
10. Replies to questions and comments with a video
Engaging with questions and comments in the replies of your content helps to answer individual queries your potential customers may have, but by also posting a video reply it helps to grow your community, too, by sharing the response with a much broader audience.
This is a popular video format for any brand in any industry, but let’s say a user asks ‘what’s inside those glamping pods 🤔’ — you can reply to the individual by creating a new TikTok video showing the inside of the pod with their comment overlaid.
11. Be the best travel guide you can possibly be
Add value for users — go that extra mile. Become the ultimate travel resource for your niche, attraction type or destination.
You might want to create video playlists. This is a way of curating your public videos into a series so people visiting your TikTok profile can watch them one after another. You could create a playlist around each of your locations or a guide to your local area.
Just as importantly, be real. This provides your content with that all-important authenticity and is a hot trend right now. Show people the real experience in expectation-versus-reality style videos - this can be flipped one of two ways.
You could either challenge the perception in a positive way — you thought it was going to be rubbish, but it’s actually amazing. OR this place looks idyllic, but it’s actually super busy and crowded, so here’s the best time to go (or where to go) instead.
Another way to add value to your video — tell, don’t sell — is to provide tips and advice. After all, who would say ‘no’ to having some of their pre-trip research done for them? This might include ideas about what to wear, where to go, what to eat, where to drink, the best photo opportunities near your destination.
A simple first step to link the two is to visit your TikTok profile, select ‘edit profile’ and then scroll down to the link to ‘add Instagram to your profile’. Then repeat the same in your Instagram profile.
And when it comes to content, this isn’t about sharing the exact same video content from TikTok onto your Instagram Reels - a practice which both platforms actively discourage. Especially when you consider the high audience percentage overlap on both channels. Make sure the content is unique to each platform, it doesn’t always have to be completly different, just tweaked to the channel.
That being said, you can repurpose content you’ve created (without the watermark and sounds) in TikTok to create further content on Instagram, just be sure to add your sounds in Instagram directly to get the reach they deserve.
Our favourite TikTok travel and tourism marketing examples so far
It’s a powerful, popular platform for connecting with tourism consumers, but how exactly are some brands out there harnessing it to drive awareness? Here’s just a few of our favourites and why we like them…
Tucked away in Doddinghurst, Essex you’ll find nine glamping pods popular with anglers at Mill Lodge Retreat. Sounds fairly unassuming, right? Hold on a minute.
Modest though they may be in terms of size, modest in terms of TikTok travel content they most certainly are not. At the time of writing, @MillLodgeRetreat have amassed an incredible 39,200 followers and over 307.6k likes on their videos.
This is the perfect example of a relatively small, niche travel brand absolutely nailing their TikTok content — proving you don’t have to be a hugely established brand to put the rocket boosters under your brand awareness with TikTok. Just make sure you work hard to incorporate all the tactics we mentioned earlier!
We all know that the budget airline doesn’t tend to shy away from leveraging social media to get people talking or to poke fun at, well, pretty much anything. When it comes to their TikTok content creation strategy, they haven’t let us down.
Ryanair primarily post relatable, hilarious branded content that gets users talking, sharing, laughing and engaging — with trending sounds and filters duly incorporated throughout their videos. They don’t sell seats, they are here for the entertainment (and brand) value.
UK Hidden Gems
Despite only getting on the TikTok hype in October 2021, they’ve wasted no time in treating us to a treasure trove of tourism content. Having started out on Instagram, they’re now better known for treating TikTok users to hidden gem content. After all, #TravelTikTok is all about discovery — meaning UK Hidden Gems’ approach is ‘perfect, perfect, perfect’!
It’s not all about travel businesses or brands — in fact, the majority of the most-watched Travel TikTok content appears to come from those all important influencers and creators.
Starting with Aytan Abbasli, the face behind the @uktravel TikTok account. Abbasli provides a huge breadth of content to inspire travel across the whole of the UK; from the Isle of Skye to Durdle Door. What makes her content effective? She appeals to both people visiting the UK from abroad and to Brits looking for something new. She even has a video showing you the best places to take wisteria photos in London, helping her followers to get the perfect Instagram snap!
@girlsaroundscotland showcase things to do and things to eat across Scotland. They often partner with brands and restaurants to provide exposure and a tourist’s eye view of their visits. Again, they appeal to locals and tourists alike with their content. If you’re visiting Edinburgh, you’ll never be short of places to eat thanks to Ailsa and Lyndsey!
@cjexplores — Cory and Char — are married travel vloggers and have racked up millions of views, over 900,000 likes and over 37,400 followers (at the time of writing). How’ve they done it? With videos that are typically short and sweet, but with an incredible hook. Think ‘you have to see’, ‘can you believe this is England’...
Another top-notch travel TikToker is @milliegoochuk. Millie is founder of Sober Girl Society and curator of ‘wholesome fun’ (it’s almost her trademark) experiences on TikTok. From weekends away in Scotland to #thingtodoinLondon, Millie’s content adopts an inclusive ‘come with me’ style — super popular on this platform.
Whilst TikTok entertains and educates, it also serves to inspire so when you explore @UnseenWonders’ profile, you can easily see why they’ve got 2.7M followers and over 50M views — on just one video.
Their content is very much bucket list-focused; showcasing hotels, places and experiences in fewer than 60 seconds. They’ve nailed the magical combination of dreamy travel footage (who can resist it?) paired with trending sounds.
… but which travel brands are missing out?
Our research showed that 58.3% of TikTok-loving travellers use booking.com to secure their adventures. But, whilst they’ve claimed their TikTok account @bookingcom, at the time of writing they’ve only posted one video.
Whilst they’re clearly a well known brand in the travel industry, we can’t help but think of all that missed opportunity from not investing in a TikTok content creation strategy! We’ll be notbooking.com, on this occasion…
Looking to level up your travel TikTok tactics?
Getting it right on #TravelTikTok is largely about increasing your discoverability by creating unique and entertaining content that’s native to the platform and that adds value, shortens the research process and makes people think ‘I wish I was there’.
If you’re a travel or tourism brand and need a helping hand with your TikTok strategy, give us a nudge — our award-winning team of social media marketing experts would be delighted to help you start your TikTok adventure!
Since forming Extreme’s social media department back in 2012, our Head of Social Donna and her team’s work has been recognised nationally. With extensive experience spanning mutiple sectors, Donna specialises in social strategy, ideation and paid social advertising.
Laura joined Team Extreme in 2017 and through the years has refined her social media skills to become our Paid Social Strategist. She works with our social clients to plan and execute content across a broad range of sectors and channels, helping clients maximise their results and ROI.
Extreme's resident Instagram queen, Beth lives and breathes all things social media! After graduating with a degree in Advertising, she explored all aspects of the digital world before firmly finding her feet in the land of social. Day to day, you can find her brainstorming for campaigns, drafting up witty content and strategising to help clients soar on social.