Why Social Media is important in the Travel Industry
Why Social Media Travelers are active Social Media Users
US social media users tend to be the most active on Facebook, they use the internet thoroughly for travel research &checking out hotels on Trip advisor and online travel retailers such as Travelocity and Expedia are becoming the standard.
In the USA, about 52% of the 152 million adult leisure travellers – or some 79 million people – already use Social Media and act as and attractive customer segment developing $102.9 billion for the domestic US tourism sector compared to $69.5 billion from non-social media users. A high 41% of US online leisure travellers have become travel social fan’s (TSFs), signing up as friends, fans, or followers of travel suppliers on social networking sites.
“These figures show that travel in social media is still at an early stage,” Mandala stated. “Destinations should thus get into social marketing but they must establish trust with the users. Credibility and dependability are critical”, she stressed.
Why Social Media Mobile Technology grows rapidly
The World Travel Monitor revealed that the effective success of smart phones such as the iPhone over the last few years opens up amazing new opportunities for the travel industry. As many as 40% of international travellers already own a smart phone with internet and email access and other functions. More than 40% of smart phone owners already use their devices to get destination information, and 34% of business travellers and 26% of leisure travellers use them to make booking changes during their trip.
Aside from that, more and more travellers are also using social networks be mobile access during their trips. As many as 37% of foreign leisure travellers say they use mobile social networks.
A Surge of Travel Aps
Mat Staugaard, head of the Norwegian consulting firm Infinite Loop stated that the travel and tourism industry is already responding to this growth with a surge of apps that grow in demand. Trip advisor was the most down-loaded app for a year due to its practicable content. However, the industry should be sure to establish products for all smart phone types, not just the iPhone, and also consult mobile websites rather than apps, he suggested.
For example, Wikihood, the Wikipedia iPhone product, is composed to organise and display ‘the world’s knowledge about any location worldwide’ with text and images, including cultural information. According to their website, ‘you can go on a virtual city tour using a map component which shows all locations as pushpins on a satellite or schematic map.’
A powerful new tool for the tourism sector could be the mixture of GPS with the built-in camera which can be expanded into so-called ‘augmented reality’. This refers to viewing something through the smart phone camera combined with additional screen displays of information or images. Lonely Planet has already cast interactive city guides for smart phones emphasizing this technology.
The Dutch Tourist Board launched a smartphone app called “Holland-layer” using the free layer augmented reality technology. Consumers download the app to their smart phone and can use the phone’s camera to call up location-based tourist information and get directions. Information is generated from the tourist board’s database covering 17,000 points of interest in the country.
Social Media is one of the most powerful forces driving travel planning today, and it has growing far faster than the travel industry itself. Unique monthly visitors to social travel sites climb at an alarming rate and travelers refer to hotel or tourism booking sites by Facebook are also more likely to book travel than these who are refereed via search engines like Google and Yahoo. As social media continues to embed itself in tourism, those entities that harness the power of the social web will prosper most. These are some reasons why social media is an integral force in the industry today.