How Social Media Has Impacted Travel Industry
Since the advent of technology and social media, the travelers’ journey has become very different. Travelers no longer rely on guidebooks compiled by ‘experts’ with out-of-date information or paper maps to navigate their route. Instead, travelers now are able to get access to information across the web at any time in the form of Buzzfeed guides, TripAdvisor reviews, travelers’ Instagram photos depicting their latest vacation, and other online channels. This real-time access to relevant tips and massive information, has ultimately changed the way travelers plan a trip — from consulting to booking.
EyeforTravel's data indicated that social media continues to be visited frequently, with users regularly connecting with a social media site to purchase the trip to a destination. In all countries, considering all the purchasing cases, at least 15% of them are done via social media sites, rising to just under a quarter of those booking on OTAs in the UK and US.
All of the data and figure demonstrates how influential user-generated content on social media can be in the travel decision-making process, and gives valuable insight into which destinations are popular among online users. To take advantage of the power of social media and inspire people to have trips, brands need to:
Use more brand hashtags: Travel experiences are what customers really care about. In an Eventbrite survey, 78% of the millennial stated they loved to share travel experiences online, and this trend also applied to other age groups. In short, travelers will share their vacation moments online, and to utilize this, brands should encourage to use more hashtags that include a brand name in the posts. This will promote your brand and increase engagement with users who are using these brand hashtags.
Inspire travelers during the vacation: While on a trip, 60% of travelers, and 97% of millennial travelers, would love to share their travel photos. User-generated content not only impacts travelers’ decision in the planning stage of a trip, but also has real-time impact on the trip itself when one is touring around the destination. With real-time images shared by users who participated in the events, travelers will often be motivated to attend an event or visit an attraction that is not in their scheduled itinerary. To guarantee your company to be included in the trip, you should encourage more travelers to share their images online by providing some incentives.
Encourage travelers to share experiences online after the trip: Most people don’t spend a long time traveling, but they do spend a lot of time thinking about or planning their next trip. Travelers usually will try to get inspiration weeks or months before they begin to plan their trip. Therefore, it is highly recommended for brands to connect with travelers who’ve been to your destination and encourage them to share their travel moments on social media to inspire new comers. It’s good for people to keep talking about your brand, and finally make it a top-of-mind choice in their trip planning process.
In addition, social media is changing the way travelers engage with big companies like airlines and hotel chains. Calling the customer service number and sitting on hold for 45 minutes to get your words heard won’t be your only option anymore. Some complaints actually can be submitted via online channels, which usually receive quicker responses from companies such as hotels, airlines and restaurants. It seems that travelers have found a short cut when it comes to customer service. Rather than waiting hours on the phone, they can simply express their dissatisfaction on the company’s social media page to urge the company to resolve it. With the rise of social media, we are turning to online customer services more often than before.
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