Stats: How travellers use social media, or not

Some interesting data – for the pros and antes of social media – from a study carried out by World Travel Market at the launch of its annual exhibition in London this week.

social media1

The survey of around 1,000 UK residents that took a holiday during 2010 found that one in three consulted some form of social media during the planning phase of their trip.

Or, alternatively, of course, 64% didn’t use any social media – TripAdvisor, Facebook, Twitter, blogs etc – in any way at all.

But of the social media junkies, most visited platforms included TripAdvisor (66%), Facebook (34%), YouTube (20%) and Twitter (17%).

Interestingly, chat rooms and forums attracted around 28% of the social media users, whereas travel blogs accounted for just 9%.

For those extolling the virtues of social media as a direct influence on travel planning decisions, the stats are rather low.

For example, 42% booked their original choice after visiting a social platform, although perhaps the power of TripAdvisor is illustrated with data showing that 35% of social media users changed their hotel after browsing.

But for other elements of a trip…

  • 15% changed airline.
  • 15% changed resort.
  • 15% changed agent or operator.
  • 12% decided to visit a different country.

Looking forward, almost half (48%) said they did not intend to use social media during the planning phase of a trip. A quarter said they would, the remainder was undecided.

So while the top-line stat of one-in-three using social platforms during the planning process is impressive, and important at least in terms of having a strategy, the power of the content within those platforms is, according to the data at least, not powerful at all when it comes to airlines, agents and operators (less than 5%).

UPDATE: Here’s the full report.

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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. Reviews – The path of the guest’s journey – Part 3 of 6 « Hospitality Beyond-the-Box Blog

    […] 35% of social media users changed their hotel after browsing a social platform (source: World Travel Market, November 2010, reported by Tnooz) […]

  2. Carter Jones

    I’m not suprised that 35% of social media users changed their hotel after browsing tripadvisor. They seem to have an excellent user review system in place that allows you to avoid flea pits and find the best hotel deals.

  3. Dominic Francis - Log Cabins In Wales

    I’d also be interested to see a copy of this study, if anyone has one?

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    […] 35% of social media users changed their hotel after browsing a social platform (source: World Travel Market, November 2010, reported by Tnooz) […]

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    […] could be, you are losing sales to your competitors. Research from World Travel Market showed that 35% of social media users changed their choice hotel after browsing a social platform. Even previously loyal guests are now […]


    Well these are stats are indeed impressive. Many People actually here about these hotels from Social Media and end booking through the company websites after reading the reviews, hence its difficult to calculate and ROI.

    Can anybody throw some light on how the hospitality sector calculates ROI on Social Media

  7. Marc-Oliver

    The golden rule is:

    The closer people are to their final destination, the more relevant “social media” becomes. Places give you the information you need. Not web sites.

  8. Steve

    So of the 1,000 holiday makers surveyed what percentage book online? If it’s a truly representative slice of the UK population then it’ll be low (much lower than 1 in 3). In that case the fact that 1 in 3 use social media at all is actually pretty high.

  9. steve sherlock

    there will come a time, if not already to some extent, that people are using social media and dont even know it.

    my teenage kids use facebook but ive never heard them use the term “social media”.

  10. Stuart

    Guess it is important to note that questions related to the planning stage rather than during the trip (even though there can be more planning along the way). That may explain the high % for Tripadvisor (TA is social media really?). Once they’re on the road, it changes — walk into any internet cafe and 90% will be on Facebook – can’t say I recall seeing many TA pages at all.

  11. Brent Hieggelke

    We agree that just browsing social networks for travel information is not that helpful. What is useful though is having insight into the recommendations and experiences of your friends and their friends when you are searching. Second Porch ( site focuses on vacation, or holiday home, rentals, which is ripe with mistrust, scams and the accommodations not being consistent with what was promised. We offer the first social circle search in all of travel. Renting a home that someone in your social circle has seen for themselves, or even owns, can solve the major issues in the industry. So it’s not cruising Facebook for recommendations, but rather tapping into the recommendations from your Facebook friends and their friends to get hooked up with a incredible home when you are looking that can really make it easy and simple to rent incredible vacation homes.

  12. Graham

    Did the study say anything about age groups? I know people my parents age would be a lot lower than the average, which would drive up the number for the youngies. Almost seems like some statistical manipulation going on here?

    Going back to TravelTech in Sydney, Hitwise produced some interesting figures about which age groups were booking online at all, 40 and up were quite low where 18-25 were very active. I think that needs to be factored in to how much gravity this report really has.

  13. Michelle Wohl - Revinate

    The fact that 35% of social media users changed their hotel after browsing a social platform shows just how much opportunity there is for hoteliers to shine. I am constantly amazed that hotels aren’t doing more to encourage reviews and responding to reviews in greater numbers. Responding is such an easy way to show that you care about your guests and are looking to improve operations through guest feedback.

  14. Ron Mader

    Is a copy of the study available for download? I’d be interested in seeing how the questions were worded.

  15. Sue Hall

    Since we’ve been using Twitter in our accommodation business we regularly find that Twitter is the second highest referring site to our website. Nowhere near as high as Google search referrals but still quite impressive.

    Of course, you only get out of social media what you put into it. If you’re not regularly interacting with your followers and posting quality, relevant information you’re not going to see any benefit.


  16. Professor Dimitrios Buhalis

    We are currently researching at Bournemouth University the impact of social media to the INSPIRATION stage of consumer behaviour and this we anticipate will be of significance on getting ideas and engagement.

    • Marc-Oliver

      Hi Dimitrios,

      Feel free to send me a link once you are finished. I would love to blog about it.


    • Robin Westhaver

      Hello Dimitrios,
      I just graduated from a Tourism program at Bournemouth, so I would also be interested in the results when they are available.

  17. Tim Gunstone

    Its not the biggest channel it is growing and thats why it is exciting.

    Facebook has experianced days with more traffic than Google.

    If we can agree that only 1/2 of travel is sold online then 1 in 3 across all sales is pretty dam huge.

    However as always its only “part” of the mix.


  18. Joe Buhler

    Despite the huge number of Facebook users, it seems the social network is still under used as an essential tool for the purpose of trip planning by the mainstream. Another interpretation would be that these numbers show a great potential for future growth in that use, especially if more useful specific apps are integrated in FB. The survey also begs the question what sources and tools are used by the majority?


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