Luxury travellers and social media – The past, present and future

TripAdvisor contributes about 61% of all reviews on luxury hotels in the US and 53% of all reviews on luxury hotels globally, reveals a survey by Brand Karma and International Luxury Travel Market.

The study was conducted among luxury travellers and their opinions on about 2,000+ hotels around the world.

Luxury is now defined as “Instagram-able”

For millennials, the ability to share a travel experience instantly via photos and videos has become an important requirement when selecting an experience. As Millennials become older and more affluent, they will seek luxury experiences that are so unique and visual that it is guaranteed to generate buzz amongst their social network.

Future of luxury hotspot

Luxury hotspots are shifting to the southern and eastern part of the world, particularly the Middle East, APAC and Latin America regions.

In the social media world, luxury travel hotspots are cities or destinations with an above-average quantity of luxury hotel reviews. While the well-known luxury hotspots like Paris or Las Vegas are still attracting travellers, newer and trendier destinations such as Abu Dhabi, Da nang, and Lima are attracting more attention, as indicated by sharp increases in luxury social postings.

The map highlights the luxury hotspots of today and tomorrow. Existing hotspots are based on the number of luxury hotel reviews within a destination since 2011; upcoming hotspots exhibit the highest growth rate in luxury hotel reviews year-on-year.

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Secret formula for a luxury hotel in social media

The study says that almost all luxury hotels at the top of its rankings had a common social presence pattern among them:

  • Luxury hotels to have at least 5,000 Facebook Likes, a TripAdvisor average rating of at least 4.5, and a strong presence on one of the major photo or video sites like Instagram, YouTube, or Pinterest.

The study says above parameters are minimum essentials for luxury hotels to have an effective social media presence.

Opportunities in Latin America

In 2013, there will be 278 million internet users in Latin America, exceeding the number of internet users in both north America and Europe.

In June 2012, about 33% of internet users in some of the largest Latin American countries used online travel sites.

World’s top five socially engaged users are from Latin America: Argentina leads with 10.7 hours per month per visitor, followed by Chile (9.5 hours), Peru (8.7 hours), Colombia (7.6 hours) and Mexico (7.1 hours).

Latin American hotels have not leveraged media websites like YouTube and Pinterest. But, LATAM luxury hotels are starting to focus on photo and video-oriented apps like Vine and Instagram video, which have high engagement rates with consumers.

Difference between a North American and Latin American luxury traveller

North American travellers seek experiential travel; whereas, Latin American travellers prioritise the functional product, namely a stunning room product and top-notch restaurants.

North Americans are more verbose – their hotel reviews were nearly double the length of their Latin American counterparts.

North Americans posted most often on Mondays, while Latin Americans posted most often on Tuesdays. Apart from below differences, Facebook and TripAdvisor are still the top social travel sites in both markets.

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Between January 2011 and June 2013, social postings by north American luxury travellers increased 130%, while social postings by Latin American luxury travellers increased 304%.

However, the satisfaction levels among these travellers also steadily increased. Brand Karma’s Social Satisfaction metric saw an increase of 43% among travellers posting in Portuguese, an increase of 14% among travellers posting in Spanish, and an increase of 4% among travellers posting in English.

TripAdvisor leads in luxury hotel review segment, but Chinese travel sites catchup

TripAdvisor produces about 61% of all reviews on luxury hotels in the US and 53% of all reviews on luxury hotels globally. The site also continues to be the largest review site for luxury hotels. For hotels within the US, Hotels. com, Expedia and Orbitz remain as the key channels for online reviews.

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However, several major Chinese booking and review web sites like Ctrip, Qunar and Dian Ping now encompass over 15% of all reviews on luxury hotels globally.

Though the Chinese sites share of hotel reviews in the US is small, it is expected that this will increase in the next 18 months given the fact that China is now the largest outbound tourism market globally.

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Online reviews and social media engagement

According to the study, the social media health of a luxury travel brand is best indicated by the positivity and share- of-voice it attracts from two major sources: online review sites like TripAdvisor and social networking sites like Facebook.

Below map represents the percentage of users writing reviews for luxury hotels. North Americans and Europeans top the list with 47% and 27% respectively. Among the 27% of European users, 20% are British.

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And, when it comes to social networking sites, the average number of Facebook Likes for a luxury hotel is highest in the Middle East with 12,062 Likes. Higher review contribution in the US and Europe doesn’t really mean higher engagement in social channels.

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NB 1: Study methodology

  • The study is based on Brand Karma’s research on comments, photos, and videos posted by luxury travellers both in the Americas and globally on social media and travel review sites between January 2010 and June 2013.
  • Data in this report has been analysed from about 550K reviews written for more than 2,000 luxury hotels worldwide

NB 2: Luxury travel image via Shutterstock.

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Karthick Prabu

About the Writer :: Karthick Prabu

Karthick was general manager for Tnooz in Asia until September 2014.



  1. Yvon Beaubrun

    Great article, well researched. Looking at the “What Guest Want” part of the infographic in Latin America: Bedroom, bathroom and restaurant; makes me smile and say ahh the simple things we take for granted in America.


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