Social Media is one of the last business fields where we can talk about skyrocketing numbers. Facebook has overcome its target of 1 billion users, most of them from US, Brazil, India, Indonesia and Mexico. France and Germany are the countries that are doing justice for Europe in this top. Approximately 500 million people are daily accessing Facebook from their smartphones. Over 300 million photos are uploaded daily and every day there are billions of likes, comments and shares. More than 1 million websites are integrated and linked with Facebook in various ways and studies have shown that 80% of the users prefer to connect to brands through Facebook rather than other social media platforms.
Twitter is another Social Media strong voice, with almost half a billion registered profiles and an average of 175 million tweets a day. As in Facebook’s case, not only the number of users has increased but also their activity on this social media platform has increased. As a matter of fact, this year’s Super Bowl event registered almost 25 million tweets, as compared to last year when almost 14 million tweets have been registered.
Google+, Pinterest and Instagram are rather new social media platforms, but who are gaining ground.
This dramatic growth of social media platforms in recent years is increasingly being felt in the travel and tourism sector. Consumers are using technology to talk about their holidays, share pictures and videos, exchange ideas about possible holiday trips and seek opinions and reviews of destinations, hotels, attractions and countless other travel-related activities.
About 40% of travellers said social network comments influenced their travel planning while 50% actually based their travel plans on other people’s reviews and experiences. Travellers are socially connected not only before and after but also increasingly during their trips thanks to mobile devices. This is an excellent thing because ideas and reviews are rapidly reaching other possible clients but also a major risk possibility since the reviewers are independent users of the travel services. This only entails the necessity of an intense use of social platforms of all tourism-related business, which now have to respond to problems or criticism in an honest and transparent way.
Once companies have dealt with their “honesty” and “transparency” old habits, they should be ready to the next step into the social world…the Social Commerce. This is actually the way to bring money into your business by using the social media tools.
Strictly for the tourism business, social commerce includes customer ratings and reviews that increase your business visibility, user recommendations and referrals, social shopping tools (sharing the act of shopping online), forums and communities, social media optimization, social applications and social advertising.
Instead of conclusion, we will argue with numbers the influence of Social Media on travel-related decisions, this being actually better translated into Social Commerce opportunity.
Before deciding where their next holiday will be, travelers are seriously documenting online:
• 43% of the travelers read reviews from other travelers;
• 31% of the travelers watch travel videos;
• 24% read travel related blogs;
The impact of other travelers is real and translates in the end into lost money if the companies do not manage well this aspect:
• 52% of the travelers changed their vacation plans after reading social media reviews;
• 33% changed their hotel;
• 46% switched resorts;
• 7% changed their holiday;
• 5% switched airlines.
In the end, our advice to you would be not to ignore social media thinking that it has a null Return of Investment. With a good strategy Social Media could play for you, and not against you, having a visible turnover impact.
Source: “Online Travel Industry Statistics” by funsherpa and IPK International for ITB Berlin, “IBT World Travel Trends Report 2012/2013”