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).

NB: Full report with plenty more data points from Text100 here.

Here is a clip:

And an infographic:

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.



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  1. Marco

    This article was a very interesting read, At Simpliflying we have been working with a similar concept that we called the “connected traveler lifecycle” and it was really nice to see some hard data.

    The only element i slightly disagree with is when the article says “social media is strong at the points where inspiration for a trip is being sought” because I believe social media plays an even more important role in inspiring people who are not actively seeking to be inspired but decide to travel after, for example, seeing holiday images posted by a friend.

    For those interested you can find some examples of airlines and airports using social media to engage travelers in this initial stage in our SimpliDream top 10

  2. Peter Syme

    “87% of those under 34 use Facebook for travel inspiration ”

    As this demographic gets old and more spending power FB will play an ever increasing role. Nothing we can do about that but to engage via FB but concerning that small businesses will have to invest in a channel that they have very little to zero control over.

    Great study one of the best I have read recently


  3. Timothy O'Neil-Dunne

    There are a couple of interesting points. The behaviour of the traveller does not always jibe with their statements and survey responses.

    I believe firmly that the factor of time is overlooked in the assessment of this sort of study. American’s are time poor. Thus they make decisions based on their time availability as the ultimate constraint.

    However the behaviour shows that they start looking for value but the fine tuning changes how they actually perform. It would be very interesting to see based on performance how many people actually perform their first stated trip request. (Hint Expedia please answer this question)


  4. RobertKCole

    Nice study. Was not surprised to see the heavy weighting of domestic leisure travel. Based on the research I have followed since the mid-1980’s, the rule of thumb was always 75% of leisure travel was domestic, 10% within its continental region and 5% to a different region.

    The US looks a bit high at 88%, but considering the relative greater frequency of short/weekend trips and the regional differentiation due to the size of the country, it’s not surprising.

    After all, someone traveling from Milwaukee to Miami counts as a domestic trip, where a trip from Hamburg to Nice, although a much shorter distance counts as an international trip.

    I think the old rule of thumb still largely holds true. As the study points out, time and convenience are important considerations in destination selection and trips within a smaller radius are generally more convenient and take less time.

  5. Joe Bühler

    This study confirms one of the oldest facts when it comes to destination decisions. The key influencers has for decades been friends and relatives. Now that most of them are on Facebook it’s only logical to see that social network at the top. It’s also not surprising that social media is less influential in the transaction stage as social media is not a sales tool, despite what some seem to think.

  6. Daniel Wishnia

    Very good study! The experiencing-stage in travel is the place where the hotel can influence on the guest, not only a bad & breakfast but more … One of the answers at Grand City Hotels is the use of MeetMeIn,


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