Is Facebook Changing How We Travel?

By Justin Lafferty 

When one of your Facebook friends posts a photo album of their trip to Maui, they’re not just showing off — they might also be acting as a travel agent. Forbes reports that Facebook is becoming a popular travel motivator, because when people see photos and posts from their friends’ vacations, it inspires them to book a flight there, too.

Admit it: When you see photos from Las Vegas, Paris, or any other cool destination pop up in your news feed, you picture yourself there. Maybe you check your calendar to see when it would be convenient to jet out, or visit a travel website to see how much it would cost.

You’re not alone.

According to consulting firm EyeForTravel, 50 percent of the travel brands that were surveyed (including Orbitz, British Airways, Hilton Grand Vacations, and TripAdvisor) reported direct booking from social media, while 20 percent of the travel brands said that social media was their most effective marketing tool (this figure jumped to 33 percent in Brazil). The report also showed that many travel companies are increasing their focus on social marketing. In the third quarter of 2011, 51 percent of travel brands surveyed said they saw an increase of traffic coming from Facebook.

A 2011 poll by Travel Industry Wire shows that 52 percent of people surveyed said they were inspired to book a trip after seeing friends’ Facebook photos and posts.

Innovation Norway launched a Facebook campaign inviting people to visit the northern European country and saw marked success. Forbes reports that the page went from 12,000 to 31,000 likes in a 45-day period (it’s now at more than 42,000 likes.) The company posts beautiful photos, as well as quizzes and contests to keep fans engaged.

Forbes contributor Tracey Greenstein explains how Facebook has changed travel:

While trusted travel brands unquestionably provide valuable trip advice, word of mouth from a loyal group of friends may be more worthwhile.  That all-too-familiar computer screen gaze at flashing photographs of friends in exotic places around the world is apparently enough for daydreamers to start packing.

Readers: Have you ever booked a trip after seeing your friends post about a certain destination?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.