Engagement from travellers and tourists is strong but…
Social networks like Facebook have attracted massive numbers of users in recent years, and a strategically managed social media presence has become fashionable in the travel industry. But companies are still struggling to work out how to make it useful in terms of bookings. Is it a distribution channel, a customer service tool, a marketing and branding platform, a referral service to generate leads, or all of these? Business and leisure travellers are clearly engaging in social platforms, and often for travel, but social networks’ influence on buying decisions is less clear.
More than three quarters of travellers use social networks to find shopping-related deals, according to a new PhoCusWright study on the subject, and 30% specifically seek out travel-related deals. But travel suppliers that have implemented booking tools, widgets or full-fledged booking engines inside Facebook report mixed results. Significantly, travellers do not appear to engage in social networks with the primary intent of shopping or buying travel, as they would when using regular search or travel sites. Internet users use Facebook to share travel photos and stories, not to make purchases.
[pictured: Friends using FourSquare; courtesy FourSquare]