Hotels, tour operators and travel providers looking to cash in on winter sun and summer breaks for 2012 would do well to pay attention to the effectiveness of their social media strategy and how social media is having an impact on how their customers choose holidays.
A recent report from the World Travel Market, which surveyed more than 1,000 UK 2011 holidaymakers, found that:
- One third of holiday makers changed their hotel choice after consulting social media.
- One in ten people switched resorts after using social media.
- 7% of people who used social media to book their holiday decided to change location (country) while 5% decided to switch airline.
- 40% of UK holidaymakers use social media to help them when researching holidays.
- Almost nine out of ten (89%) see social media as a positive experience, with 23% using it more often in 2011 than in 2010.
- 66% of consumers said they did not access any websites via their mobile when researching their holiday.
From an industry perspective:
- Almost half of the travel industry 48% believe that social media will be more important than PPC by 2016.
- Only 15% feel social media is at a tipping point and will reduce in popularity.
- In combination, nearly half of the industry is using social media as a revenue stream or are looking to do so, at 22% and 27% respectively.
It’s likely that ratings and reviews on sites like Tripadvisor or other holiday booking portals are still playing an important role in the consumer decision making process.
However, it’s important for the travel and tourism industry to pay attention not just to how social media influences consumer choices, but also the impact it has on search – in terms of social search rather than just PPC or organic SEO - particularly with the launch of Google+ branded pages.