Skift Take

Congratulations to all the most effective travel brands on social media.

Skift, American Express, and our Editors’ Choice judges are pleased to announce the winners of the second annual Skifties Social Media Awards for Travel Brands.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 9.10.51 PMIn this second year it is important to recognize travel brands that have turned social media interactions into quantifiable business objectives. Skift acknowledges this shift from social media’s early purpose of acquisitions and interactions to drivers of awareness, consideration, and conversions.

This year we made selections in 25 categories that focused on the most effective travel brands by verticals, platforms, and use cases. To us Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube are still the key platforms. That said, we also kept in mind LinkedIn, Pinterest, Vine, and Snapchat to consider the various target audiences travel brands hope to reach.

In addition, we have the privilege to have David Berkowitz, CMO of MRY; Rebecca Lieb, Strategic Advisor and until recently an analyst at Altimeter Group; and Martin Stoll, CEO of Sparkloft, as our Editor’s Choice judges. We were also joined by Judy Winitzer, vice president global merchant service and lodging at American Express as our honorary judge.

We are extremely grateful to have the opportunity to review the entrants’ best work, and all participants should be proud of their success.

The Skifties awards are sponsored by our valued partner American Express.

Skifties 2015 Winners

  • Most Effective Brand on Social Media – Airlines:
    Turkish Airlines
    Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / YouTube
    Integrated a multi-platform approach — with a deeper focus on Instagram — that communicates that they fly to the most destinations around the world while highlighting Istanbul, their hub city’s rich culture. They work with key influencers that their audience follows on Instagram to reinforce their brand.
  • Most Effective Brand on Social Media – Airport:
    Denver International Airport
    Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / YouTube
    Differentiated themselves by creating a personality for its Facebook page and directing newsworthy content to news outlets to maximize distribution and providing real-time engagement via Twitter and Periscope to inform and entertain. This create-and-publish-content-with-a-built-in-audience approach is also applied to Instagram and YouTube.
  • Most Effective Brand on Social Media – Booking Site & Tool:
    Facebook / Instagram LinkedIn / Pinterest / Twitter / YouTube 
    Matched clear brand objectives with content tailored for each platform to maximize impact to drive traffic back to its main site and blog with a blend of organic and paid tactics, global social customer service, brand videos and user generated content that takes them one step closer to booking.
  • Most Effective Brand on Social Media – Cruise Line:
    Azamara Club Cruises
    Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest / Twitter / YouTube
    Paired content with relevant links to drive higher rates of site referrals across its platforms from a highly qualified audience. On Twitter, CEO Larry Pimentel and ships have separate Twitter accounts to be more personal in catering to its audience with destination ideas, special offers, and milestones.
  • Most Effective Brand on Social Media – DMO Country:
    Tourism Australia
    Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest / Twitter / YouTube
    Widened the visibility of its website and its partners through Facebook and gaining momentum to drive traffic. They surveyed followers to find out they found inspiring content about Australia. Architected a centrifuge of user-generated content on Instagram for curation and distribution on other platforms to increase acquisitions, visibility and loyalty.
  • Most Effective Brand on Social Media – DMO Region/State:
    Enjoy Illinois
    Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest / Twitter / YouTube
    Tapped Millennial rich audience on Instagram influencers and curated the best content to create social media ads. They dove into the comments on Instagram to evaluate the quality of their success. Created compelling video content that starred MiniAbe [Lincoln] stop-motion stories to showcase points of interests.
  • Most Effective Brand on Social Media – DMO City/Town:
    Visit Las Vegas
    Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest / Twitter / YouTube
    Coordinated social media first events that exclusively took place on their platforms that were strategically distributed on their seven multi-country Facebook pages to increase destinations awareness. Utilized site and customer data to target travelers and inspire visual content from images, commercials, videos to infographics.
  • Most Effective Brand on Social Media – Ground Transportation:
    Budget Rent a Car
    Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest / Twitter
    Created localized Facebook pages with regionalized content instead of having one large brand page. Held a contest in tandem with this strategy and pushed people to the website and significantly increased sales. They responded within 10 minutes during hours of availability on Twitter. They have a minimal approach and authentic content on Instagram and YouTube.
  • Most Effective Brand on Social Media – Hotel Brand:
    Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
    Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / YouTube / Pinterest
    Leveraged Facebook’s Custom Audiences and Twitter Cards to turn interactions into checkouts and site visits. Incorporated user generated content and feedback into its Four Season Magazine articles. They created visual content on Instagram independently and collaboratively with influencers to gauge customer intent. On YouTube they zeroed-in on key video topics.
  • Most Effective Brand on Social Media – Individual Hotel Property & Resort:
    The Standard, East Village
    Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / YouTube
    Created a sense of local community through an exclusive content series on Facebook called, “Look Who Came to Lunch.” Neighboring business owners filled out questionnaires at their new farm-to-table restaurant, Narcissa. It also notified victims of East 7th Street explosion spare beds via social media. Drove social media audience to blog and booking site.
  • Most Effective Brand on Social Media – Tour & Travel Provider:
    G Adventures
    Facebook / Instagram / LinkedIn / Pinterest / Twitter / YouTube / Vine
    Increased bookings through paid ads on Facebook that noticeably increased revenue per visit and referral traffic. Used Twitter to spot trending topics to create timely content to increase leads and conversations. Took queues and repurposed user-generated content on Instagram and YouTube for redistribution.
  • Most Effective Brand on Social Media – Travel Media:
    Matador Network
    Facebook / Instagram / Snapchat / Twitter / YouTube
    Optimized performance of 360-degree content for their partners through their already highly engaged community that are fanatic taggers of its branded hashtag #TravelStoke. The user-generated site bridges influential and prolific community members with travel brands to widen the possibilities of the written and visual medium from listicles to highly contagious drone content.
  • Most Effective Brand on Social Media – B2B Travel Tech Company:
    Facebook / Instagram / LinkedIn / Twitter / Pinterest / YouTube
    Humanized their technology product by introducing the employees with behind the scenes, on-the-ground commentary, and funny content that emulates consumer travel brands. By sharing local recommendations of their company’s headquarter city, Miami, they’re inspiring human relationships.

Winners by Platform

  • Best Branded Facebook Page:
    Turkey Home

    This tourism board’s most successful campaigns were composed of video content directly uploaded to Facebook and cross-pollinated share-worthy user-generated content from Instagram influencers and followers.
  • Best Branded Instagram Account:
    Tourism Australia
    Not only is their account full of eye-candy, it is complemented with useful information for Australia-curious travelers. Their team spends extra time to craft meaningful captions that at-mention and use hashtags in a balanced way on user-generated content attracts and informs its audience.
  • Best Branded Twitter Account:
    Extended brand visibility by identifying with their Twitter audience’s interest in winning prizes via retweet entries through main account and spokesperson Captain Obvious’.
  • Best Branded YouTube Account:
    This tour and travel provider’s fourth annual video series, titled “Contiki RoadTrip” successfully targeted Millennials. The audio and visual content considerably converted video views to microsite web visits on

Winners by Use Case

  • Most Engaged Community Across Social Media:
    Lonely Planet

    Facebook / Instagram / LinkedIn / Pinterest / Snapchat / Twitter / Vine / YouTube
    Pushed and adapted to new forms of content to distribute on the most social media platforms that consistently drives site referrals, significant views on Snapchat and commentary on LinkedIn. Amassed a collection of tried and true content ideas that impressively garners excitement and action from its audience on YouTube videos and real-time feedback on Google Hangouts.
  • Best Social Media Customer Service:
    Facebook / Twitter
    Reported a 16-minute response time while exponentially increasing volume of replied-to inquiries through hyper-social listening and friendly segues. They also celebrate, monitor and rally their team with weekly video montages of “guest tweets” internally.
  • Best Social Media Contest:
    Hawaiian Airlines
    Garnered the most results from “Lei Day” contest with entries, video views and shares. To enter, entrants answered a personality quiz on Facebook. The video promoted the contest and bridged online and offline interactions with deeply rooted cultural experience. They reported revenue and site referrals from the sweepstake and residual impact on Twitter.
  • Best Use of Twitter Chat:

    Accumulated the most site referrals to and Expedia Viewfinder Blog from #ExpediaChat by having highly followed Twitter accounts and recognizable brands in travel and airlines participate as guests. In addition, audiences came back to take part in Twitter chats.
  • Best Use of Video:
    Brand USA
    Aligned video content with distribution and click-throughs, from inception. They drew inspiration from American cultural icons who tell the best stories for a living. “USA through Film” is composed of twelve high quality video series that features twelve filmmakers and their cities. The videos complemented custom articles on BBC and drove consideration.

Winners by Partnership Type

  • Best Social Media Agency for Travel Brand:
    Beautiful Destinations
    Measures performance of content produced by influencers on social media channels and designing interaction phases to monitor business impact when advising clients on influencer strategy campaigns.
  • Best Social Media Vendor for Travel Brands:
    Focused on making the most out of visual travel content on social media by collaborating with brands to create authentic content that protects brand reputation and investment.
  • Best Social Media Influencer:
    Beautiful Destinations
    The newest and largest social media community that boasts over 6 million followers on Instagram with distinctly focused accounts – destinations, hotels, cuisines, and matters — that works with the biggest social media influencers on visual platforms that include Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Vine, and Snapchat.

Editors’ Choice Awards

  • Best Integrated Campaign:
    Marriott International’s #LoveTravels
    Campaign connected with LGBTQ community through a series of videos that presented a diverse cross-section of people with heartfelt stories through video, photo and copy that lent itself well on the microsite, print and social media.
  • Best Multi-Account Strategy on Social Media:
    Proliferated the most active accounts on Twitter that share fun local content and customer service while handling the brand with one Facebook Page, YouTube channel, and Instagram account.
  • Best Underdog Travel Brand:
    TSA on Instagram
    The most consistent and fascinating look at the items travelers try to pass through airport security. The images are not visually appealing but the image and caption makes for a very educational and entertaining Instagram experience.
  • Best Innovative Use of Social Media:
    Visit Iceland
    Tourism board made digital search a more personalized experience by putting a friendly human represented by an Icelandic common name, Gudmundur, in charge of the results. Content hashtagged with #AskGudmundur on Facebook or Twitter would get a reply from friendly people assigned to each region.
  • Best Travel Startup on Social Media:
    Technology focuses on live-streaming capabilities of higher quality and easy hosting on websites that complements content and distribution on social media.
  • Smartest Travel Brand on Social Media:
    KLM constantly outdoes their team’s effort in prioritizing customer service, reputation and revenue goals on social media. Their #Happytohelp campaign on boasting their commitment to flyers at different stages in travel has enabled them to track exponential sales growth back to their social media efforts.


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Tags: skifties, social media

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