- Southwest Airlines is looking for 10 social influencers to create travel content for the carrier while exploring its destinations in the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America. Instagram users have until Feb. 24 to submit their best travel photo with a witty caption to the @southwestair account along with the hashtags #SouthwestStorytellers #Contest, per an announcement.
- Southwest will choose 100 semifinalists to complete a survey that has questions such as, "If Southwest powered your travel for the year, where would you go and what would you do?" The airline will choose 10 finalists based on survey results and the content they post about their home cities. They are eligible to receive prizes including e-passes for one-way travel, gift cards worth $500 and 10,000 Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points.
- The grand prize winner will receive 24 Southwest e-passes valued at about $4,800. Entrants must be at least 21 years old and have an Instagram account with at least 2,500 followers.
Southwest's campaign to find social influencers who can share their travel experiences on Instagram is a compelling way to reach budget travelers who are seeking advice on vacation destinations. By requiring that entrants have at least 2,500 followers on Instagram, which has more than 1 billion users worldwide, the airline can at least ensure that its campaign has a chance of reaching thousands of social media users. Travel is an especially popular topic among young adults who have spending power for vacations, and who are more likely to share the experiences with friends, family and followers on social media.
Southwest's influencer contest follows a similar effort by Amtrak, which launched a social media residency program to showcase the diversity of passengers and their train travel experiences. The #AmtrakTakeMeThere program sought social media leaders — not professional travel bloggers or influencers — to share their stories about riding on Amtrak.
Eighty-four percent of Gen Z travelers said social media can be influential when it comes to travel, particularly for deals, promotions and pictures or videos from friends or experts, according to a survey by Expedia Group Media Solutions. About one-third (30%) of millennials said they spend more than four hours a day on their mobile devices while traveling, a Hotels.com study found.