Social media important in the inspiration and experience stages of travel, not for bookings
A sizeable study of leisure trippers in 13 countries around has shed further light on how important social media in two important areas of the travel funnel.
The influence of social media is strong at the points where inspiration for a trip is being sought and at the point where consumers are busily sharing their experiences, but not at the point where money changes – ie. purchasing a flight, hotel, car hire, activity, etc.
The study spoke to 4,600 travellers Australia, China, Denmark, France, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, UK and US who had taken at least one leisure trip in the past 12 months or planned to over the course of the next year.
Headline findings on the social media side of it all:
- Those under the age of 34, 87% use Facebook for travel inspiration.
- Over half also use Twitter, Pinterest and other social media platforms for inspiration.
- Around two-thirds (68%) use their mobile devices to stay in touch with friends and family while on vacation – higher than those taking photos (43%) or checking news sources (20%).
- Over half (52%) post photos and videos during their travels, while 25 percent write reviews.
The company behind the report, Text100, has broken down the report in to a number of key points:
- Recommendations from family/friends came in front as the top influence on the choice of a vacation destination (63%) ahead of web searches (55%).
- Websites with reviews are the most popular, followed by professional travel guides and travel columns.
- Majority of travellers download travel apps before leaving for a trip, with maps being the most popular.
- Positive experiences are most likely to be posted on review sites.
So what about the booking element in the funnel?
Well, armed with recommendations from family and friends, plus some tips from various social media channels, consumers are relying on apparent traditional sources to feed them to the booking: online travel agencies, suppliers (hotel, airline), tour operators, etc.
And here is where the current issue for many of the social travel startups is in sharp focus – consumers may well be enjoying the reams of free content and inspiration, the ability to connect with other travellers and share their experiences, but at the point where such sites can perhaps have a role in the booking (and, well, take a cut from affiliate feeds), visitors are heading elsewhere.
Back, presumably, into the inevitable cycle of checking endless sites (often dozens).
Here is a clip:
And an infographic:
Kevin May is a senior editor and one of the co-founders at Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and will be publishing his first book - a biography about electronic band, Depeche Mode - soon.