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2 Easy Ways Tourism Brands can Engage Customers on Snapchat

By Rebecca White
Published on July 8, 2016

Is it time your Tourism Business or Destination stopped ignoring Snapchat?

There has been MASSIVE growth in Snapchat usage in the last 12 months from people under the age of 30.

If your Ideal Customer is under the age of 30, then you need to take a serious look at how you can use Snapchat as part of your marketing strategy.

Here are a few stats from the recent 2016 Sensis Social Media Report to set the scene for you…

  • 22% of all people in Australia on Snapchat, and it is now the 4th most popular social media network behind Facebook (95%), Instagram (31%) and Linkedin (24%).
  • This is a huge rise from 2015 where Snapchat was used by only 15% of respondences, and was the 7th most popular social media network.
  • 60% of Australians aged 18 – 29 use Snapchat (perhaps read that again!)

Plus a few more stats if you need to convince your boss/colleagues/partner!

Need some visual proof of why Snapchat is a force to be reckoned compared to Facebook, Instagram & Twitter, then check out this entertaining video!


Snapchat 101

If you are already using Snapchat personally, jump down to learn about the 2 strategies that are relevant for tourism brands. If you are new to Snapchat, please read on!

What is Snapchat exactly?

Snapchat is an App where you share an in-the-moment “snap” which is made up of either a short video or a photo where you can add text and filters overlays.

And no, Snapchat is not just about disappearing teenage selfies!

The big opportunity for Tourism Businesses and Destinations is Snapchat’s “Story” feature and also their Geolocation Filters.

A “Story” is a collection of your last 24 hour of “snaps” which can be seen by anyone who is following you on Snapchat. You can learn how to post a Snapchat Story here

Snapchat are also rolling out a new feature called Memories where you will be able to save and reshare “Stories” indefinitely, which is great news as it means your snaps will be able to work harder for you.

What’s to love about Snapchat?

Brilliant for storytelling

The collation of your previous 24 hours of “Snaps” of photos & videos combined together into a “Story” is a brilliant way to show and engage people interested in your tourism experience.

Build personal relationships

Of all the social media channels, Snapchat provides you an awesome opportunity to connect with your online community in a very personal way. It is much more private and personal than Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

Great for customer loyalty

If you have a lot of repeat customers, it’s brilliant for keeping in touch with them and keeping them interested and engaged in your brand through regular updates and special Snapchat-only promotions.

Location based custom filters

Even if you decide you haven’t the time to invest in sharing regular snaps, there are still great opportunities to share your own custom filters, which are brilliant for place-branding and customer advocacy (learn more below).

It’s fun!

Not so related to your marketing, however because it is fun to use, this makes it easier to commit to sharing snaps regularly!

The challenges with Snapchat

There are some challenges you need to be aware of with Snapchat and address to make sure you get the most out of the platform and seeing a positive return on investment.

Time taken to post snaps

You have to share a “snap” in the moment. Unfortunately you can’t save and upload a photo or video later to your “Story”, which is a huge time challenge, especially for those of you running your own business or juggling multiple responsibilities in your destination marketing role.

If time is an issue for you, think about ways to get your staff or colleagues to help with content creation. We share some ideas in this blog under point 1.

Short life of snaps

Your stories only have a life of 24 hours, so the time and effort in creating Snaps only lasts for a short time!

This also means followers expect to hear from you fairly regularly with your Snaps! A solution Snapchat is rolling out is Memories. This will allow you to choose Stories to be saved for longer than 24 hours, which is great news.

No virality

What this means is people can only find you on Snapchat if you tell them you are on Snapchat and they then search you out!

It also means your “Snaps” can only be seen by those people who follow you. So it’s important you build your Snapchat community via all you other communication channels, otherwise you could be snapping to “crickets”!! We share tips on community building later in the blog.

Hard to measure return on investment.

Metrics provided by Snapchat are limited to only telling you who had viewed your snaps. So if you are investing time in sharing snaps, you need to be really strategic with the content you share and amount of time you invest, so you receive a positive return on investment.


2 Snapchat Marketing Strategies You Can Implement

So, for tourism businesses and destinations, there are two opportunities to use Snapchat to help attract and convert more customers and visitors.

Strategy 1: Leverage Custom Filters

Snapchat allows you to submit your own filters which Snapchat users can use on their own snaps.

These provide a great opportunity for place-branding your tourism experience, event or destination, and encouraging social customer advocacy and brand awareness of your tourism experience.

There are two filter options you can use depending if you are a Tourism Business or a Destination.

Snapchat Geofilter Screen Shot

On-Demand Geofilters

These are you own filters where you pay to display a filter in a certain location for a certain time. You are allowed to use your own brand name and logo in your filter design.

These filters are great for short term uses like events or special promotion.

Costs depend on the area and length of time you want the filter to be active.

On Demand Geo Filters

A great recent example kindly shared by Sam Davies from Digital Noir.

They created an On-Demand Geofilter for Fox Creek Wines which was live for 5 hours during the Mclaren Vale Sea & Vines Festival.

Fox Creek Design & Location

After the 5 hours of the filter being live, the total investment was $24.

During this time they saw were 77 people used the filters (indicator of customer advocacy) while another 4529 people saw the filter (indicator of brand awareness).

Snapchat Results > Fox Creek Filter

You can see a summary of the Fox Creek Wines Geo Filter Results after the 5 hour campaign above.

The most important results are the “uses” of the filter, which worked out at a cost of 31 cents per use. It’s not a bad return on investment for word of mouth marketing for the winery! Those who saw it were already at the winery, so less important a metric to track.

Sam had created a more interactive filter for Fox Creek Wines (think cool glasses and wine in the hand!) which probably would have had a much higher use! However this filter was rejected due to the Snapchat advertising guidelines around alcohol! So something to keep in mind in the future.

On Demand Filter’s are a big topic, so to learn more about best-practice filter use and how create and use your own Snapchat On-Demand Geo Filters check out these articles >

Community Filters

These filters are free to submit by Snapchat users.

They can’t include a logo, however are great opportunity to create a more engaging place branded Snapchat Geofilter for your destination than the stock standard Snapchat filters.

All towns, community organisations, local government, regional tourism organisations and state tourism organisations need to look at what their current standard Snapchat Geofilter for their destination.

For example the community filters for Adelaide are pretty boring and not that on brand!

City of Adelaide Filters

From there, they should see if there are opportunities to create a more engaging filters that allows the Snapchat community to better represent their destination’s story and brand.

A great example is Inkwell Studio took the opportunity to create more interesting and on-brand filters for Tauranga, the peak of Mt Maunganui and Mt Maunganui city.

They designed the new filters to better reflect their cities brands, and also provide a new customer advocacy opportunity with the filter for people who have hiked to the top of Mt Maunganui.


Results have been hard measure being Community Filters, they are now in the public space and managed by Snapchat. However for a small investment of time to create the filters, they now much better represent the region!

So, have a think about how you could come up with a more on-brand Snapchat community filters for your destination?

Learn more about creating and submitting a community filter for your destination


Strategy 2: Tell a great story

The second powerful strategy for tourism brands in using Snapchat is through telling GREAT brand stories.

This is where the power of Snapchat comes to life with your own content marketing.

Snapchat gives you an awesome opportunity to share fun and engaging stories about what your brand has happening in the moment.

When you share stories that are relevant to your Ideal Customers, you will quickly build real trust and consideration with new customers and loyalty from existing customers.

Stories that engage your communities, but also help you achieve your marketing goals include:

  • Behind the scenes in your business, event or destination
  • Take people for a tour and show us what’s happening around your destination or business
  • Showcase beautiful scenery around your experience and destination
  • Share tips, tricks and special Snapchat only Promotions

Tourism Brands sharing great Snapchat Stories

The best way to explain these ideas is to show you some Tourism Brands telling great stories on Snapchat.

Vancouver Aquarium (@vanaqua)

They share a mix of interesting, funny and cute behind the scenes happenings at the Aquarium. They also make great use of their own On-Demand filters for overlaying their behind the scenes tours, which you can see below.Vancouver Aquarium Snapchat

Whistler Blackcomb (@whistlerblckcmb)

They are sharing live updates from the mountain, helping inspire you to wish you were there in the snow! You can also learn more about their Snapchat strategy via this great blog from Destination Think.

Whistler Blackcomb on Snapchat

Visit Las Vegas (@visitlasvegas)

Visit Las Vegas share great stories in and around the city, and also sharing lesser know experiences that connect with a younger visitor to the city.

Las Vegas > showcasing the destination

Four Seasons Hotels (@fourseasons)

They showcase staff and different activities around their hotels, such as cocktail making!

Four Seasons Margherita Making

Air New Zealand (@airnewzealand)

They mix it up with a great mix of engaging snaps, such as showing in-the-moment scenery around NZ,

snapchat only promotions, like the “Find & Meet” the All Blacks in Dunedin,

and showcasing destinations they fly to, such as Los Angeles!

Air New Zealand > Showcasing the destinations!Air NZ > Snapchat promots

So hopefully that gives you a few ideas to share you own engaging Snapchat stories!

Measuring the Success of your Stories

The main measures you can track to monitor the success of your Snapchat stories are the viewer metrics, which gives you an indication of your follower engagement.

  • How many people viewed your snaps? Total Views is a measure of how many people saw your 1st snap in a 24 hour story.
  • How many total story completions? Check out the last snap in a 24 hour story to measure this.
  • Anecdotally, you can also ask people visiting your business how they heard about you, and keep an ear out if they mention Snapchat at all!

You can learn more about Snapchat Metrics in this helpful blog post.


Repurpose your Snaps

Finally, if you have gone to all the effort of creating a great snap, download it to your smartphone, and then reshare it natively back out to other relevant social media channels.


How to get set up for success on Snapchat?

So, if your Ideal Customers are on Snapchat and you have the time and resources to invest in Snapchat, then here are the steps to get set up for success!

Join Snapchat

It’s pretty simple to get your Tourism brand set up on Snapchat.

  • Follow the tips from Snapchat on downloading the App.
  • Choose an easy to spell user name, that people can easily remember and spell. Ideally make it your business or destination name.
  • Set you privacy so your “Stories” can be viewed by everyone
  • Learn more about the different Snapchat features and where to find them here.

Learn to drive Snapchat

From there, start having a play with the App.

Promote your brand on Snapchat

Finally, when you are ready to commit to consistent snapping and dive into strategy 2 above, then it’s time to let everyone know you are on Snapchat!

You will need to tell people you are on Snapchat, as they wont be able to find you easily just within the App without knowing your specific Snapchat username.

  • People can search for you by username if they know what it is.
  • Or they can scan your custom “Snapchat Code” which is essentially a QR code that takes them straight to your Snapchat account.
  • We recommend you customise your Snapchat Code with your logo or a relevant picture in Canva. To do this, log into Snapchat on your desktop, download your Snapcode, upload it to Canva, add the relevant photo (such as yourself or your company logo). Follow their Snapcode Scan Guidelines when adding your logo in Canva. Then save it as a .png file on your desktop.

Once you have your customised Snapchat code, promote it on all your other customer communications

  • Social Media Profiles –  Use your Snapcode for a few weeks as your profile image.
  • Social Media Updates – Share a social media update in your news feeds (eg Twitter & Facebook)
  • E-News updates
  • Email signature
  • Website Social Icon
  • Signage around your business (eg back of toilet doors even?!)
  • Print collateral – spell out your username or use your snapcode

Some good examples includes Calypso Star Charters and Air New Zealand who promoted their customised Snapcode in Facebook and Twitter, asking their customers to come and follow them!

Calypso Star Charters on Snapchat

Air New Zealand on Snapchat > Promote on other channels

Over to You

  • Is there a place for Snapchat to fit into your Tourism Brand’s Marketing?
  • If you are active on Snapchat in your Tourism Brands we’d love to follow you, so let us know your username below and we will follow you!

Rebecca White

Rebecca is a tourism marketing specialist and co-director of Tourism eSchool. Rebecca loves working with tourism destinations & operators to create sustainable marketing strategies. Her specialty areas are tourism marketing strategy, visitor servicing, visitor engagement, social media, customer advocacy, customer experience, content marketing & blogging.

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