Friday, February 28, 2014

How social media has changed travel

The world is a smaller place with social media and it’s increasingly changing how we vacation and travel. In the past, people used travel planners, brochures, word-of-mouth recommendations, paper road maps, and the “we’ll figure it out when we get there” method for their getaways. Today, it’s not so different but on social networking sites we have ways to openly share reviews, pictures and blog posts about our experiences away from home with our friends, family and the world. And based on what our friends and family do on their adventures, social media is changing how we plan our own vacations.

Social media sites are a way for people to get ideas, see photographs and read real recommendations from regular people who have travelled to a particular destination. According to an infographic by MDG Advertising, “52 percent of travelers use social media to find vacation inspiration.” Users most often turned to Facebook to post about their upcoming trip or to find out more information.
Image via SocialX

The photos your friends post on these sites can have a major impact on your own vacation. More than 52 percent of travelers said that seeing friends’ travel photos had inspired them to take a trip to the same place according to a poll by

Our willingness to share online amplifies word-of-mouth communication. Since 3 out of 4 of social media users post their photos on social networks after their vacation is over, others can easily get an idea of what they can do on their own vacations. The impact of recommendations by others has led to new sites being created to merge the world of social media and travel.

Gogobot is one such site. It works by linking your account to Twitter and Facebook to find other Gogobot users. When you are looking for trip advice, you post a question to Facebook, Twitter, and Gogobot where other users can respond with their comments and reviews. The site also saves places you’ve been, so you can access restaurants, hotels and your travel history at a later date.

Even popular social networking websites such as Pinterest have gotten in on the action. In November 2013, Pinterest added a new feature called “Place Pins” which allow people to pin photos of their dream vacations on a map and create their own itineraries. Every day Pinterest users pin about 1.5 million places, and now there are more than 750 million destination pins on the site.

Travel industry businesses have created new and useful ways to use social media in order to make the booking and vacation experience more pleasant for their customers. Some companies allow booking payments via Twitter and Facebook and others have set up Twitter accounts for special travel offers and insider travel tips.

Travelers turn to sites such as Twitter to engage with hotels, airlines, cruise lines, restaurants and more to ask questions, learn information, book travel services and to make a complaint. Since the company accounts are public, there is pressure for immediacy and timely response. Problems with complaints can be handled quickly and others looking for the same information can find it easily.

Social media travel sites have changed the way we travel. They allow time-poor individuals a way to quickly find out what places to explore and what places aren’t worth our time. It creates new avenues to find travel deals, information, feedback and recommendations from people you know, which inspires us when planning our own vacations.

This was originally posted to the Eagle Strategies blog.

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