Much has been made on social media’s positive influence on the travel industry, with many studies – and marketers – singing the virtues of platforms such as Twitter and Facebook in driving awareness and sales for travel companies. Indeed, one survey suggested that 50 percent of these firms had seen direct bookings generated by social media.
But according to one recent poll, these channels aren’t yet playing a significant role in decision-making by holidaymakers.
The World Tourism Forum surveyed 1,000 online travel bookers across the U.S., UK and Germany, and discovered a “a clearly structured website”, the “renown and reputation” of the company and the availability of suitable travel dates were the top priorities for these firms.
Conversely, a presence on platforms like Twitter and Facebook was not rated as critical, with just 20 percent of German travel bookers and 15 percent of those in the UK citing social media as important.
“I don’t doubt people read reviews before they book, but I doubt it is playing a role in search,” said Jan-Frederik Valentin, vice-president of package travel for Kayak Europe. “We still have a long way to go in that.”
However, despite these findings, holidaymakers who use social media are still seen as an important demographic for travel firms.
“Social-media minded customers are more active online clients and more likely to compare offers and bargains,” said Andreas Liebrich, Lucerne University e-tourism specialist.