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Social Media for Travel & Tourism

By Wael Nabbout | February 17, 2012 | Section: Analysis |

The advent of social media prompted businesses across various sector to adapt their products and services, rethink their marketing strategies and re-envision customer relationship management. Numerous studies assert the positive impact of social media on product or services development and marketing, and the travel and tourism industry is no exception to this rule.

Can algorithms replace travel agents?

Various startups have been attempting to utilize information from social networks to power recommendation engines for travel and tourism. But the notion of completely replacing travel agents has been contested by some industry insiders who liken the efficiency of using such features to using online health sites to diagnose symptoms instead of a doctor: not a final authority, but a good place to start.

What’s certain however is that social media does have a positive impact on travel sales. A 2011 study by Expedia found that people who visit a company’s Facebook page were more likely to make a purchase than those who visit the company’s site.

Additionally, a 2011 study by travel researcher PhoCusWright showed that out of 15.2 million visitors linked by Facebook to hotel websites, more than 500 thousand resulted in a booking, a conversion rate higher than the conversion rate from travel review sites.

Prospective travelers depend on other travelers’ words.

According to an analysis by MindShift Interactive, travelers' dependence on social media is growing faster than the travel industry itself. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are the most popular social networks for marketing tourism and hospitality as they allow consumers to review brands, locations and read user experiences.

The study, entitled “Impact of Social Media on Hospitality and Tourism Industry”, also showed that Twitter, Facebook and forums dominated conversations on hospitality and tourism, with only 7% coming from the brands, while the rest was generated by customers.

Realtime information

Realtime information generated by travelers means that businesses can detect problems or trends almost instantly and adapt accordingly. Last minute deals and promotions can then be tailored using the traveler's location.

As a final note, for travel companies going social, like most businesses, proper implimentation of social media strategies that increase efficiency and generate considerable returns remains tricky business. Travel tech news portal Tnooz compiled 3 social media experts' 5 point plans on how travel companies can "concretely generate incremental revenue and real ROI", you can read it here.

To learn more about eTravel and the exciting digital developments that are impacting tourism, join us at Industry Day in Beirut on March 28, 2012. A first-time addition to the ArabNet Digital Summit, Industry Day will explore how web and mobile are transforming education, healthcare, travel, and banking. Register now.

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