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Social Media More Influential Than Travel Professionals

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Social Media More Influential Than Travel Professionals


It’s not exactly a big surprise, but ReadWriteWeb a popular technology blog, “officially” reported that social media was gaining serious ground in the race with travel experts as an “influencer” in the traveler’s planning process and decisions.

The article gained credibility when it was Retweeted by the big public relations news service, PR Newshound.

The perception that “peer recommendations have overtaken the knowledge of travel specialists when it comes to the make-or-break point for on-line purchases,” says ReadWriteWeb,  is consistent with the trend across all categories of on-line commerce.

But it may be premature to say so.

If a traveler’s first time trip to Italy is simply wonderful and he/she fell in love at that small hotel in Naples, then the recommendation and content will reflect that.

If a travel professional has been to that same hotel several times (or one like it) and noted the deterioration of services, or the inferior quality of the amenities based on his or her other travel experiences, that content will likely be more useful. 

The topic, and the realization that peer-to-peer reviews may eventually have more clout than the authority of professional travel reviewers, was a closely watched discussion at the World Travel Market in London.

Tnooz reported that travelers addicted to using social media when planing a trip used these tools:

• Trip Advisor (66%)
• Facebook (34%)
• YouTube (20%)
• Twitter (17%)

It also  reported that a survey of about a 1,000 travelers revealed that one out of three used some sort of social media when planning a trip.

An impressive number, but that leaves some 64% of travelers who did not use some form of social media.

The conventional wisdom seems to suggest that while social media has not yet overtaken either the on line buying process or the opinions of travel professionals, it is poised to do so.

The caveat most travel professionals point out is the subjectivity of peer reviews and recommendations, and the questionable depth of travel experiences reflected in social media’s comments and content.


One university is studying the affect of social media on the “inspiration” stage of travel planning, claiming “inspiration” leads to bookings.

And another noted that extraordinary power of Trip Advisor where 35% of travelers changed their hotel bookings after reading a review or seeing a video on Trip Advisor.

Why, the writer wondered, aren’t hoteliers encouraging more reviews..and responding to them.

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Comment by Kaleel Sakakeeny on December 29, 2010 at 1:38pm

Well, Murray, I guess that pretty much was my point in the last line of my post..then in my comments to Northeat News, I spun it a bit differently. Interesting biz, and thank you very much for commenting!

Kaleel

Comment by Murray Lundberg on December 29, 2010 at 11:43am
Although I use TripAdvisor to research, during the 9 weeks I travelled
in Alaska, Florida and the Caribbean this year, not a single cruise,
hotel, car rental or tour operator ever mentioned the site.
Comment by Kaleel Sakakeeny on December 29, 2010 at 9:58am

It's amazing, Northeast News, how quickly the landscape changes. Until very recently hoteliers and inn keepers did not text or tweet a guest inviting them, with a live link, to post to Trip Advisor, et.al.

Increasingly they are doing so...JUST as an opposite trend kicks in. In my upcoming post, I'll present an innkeeper who asks why on earth he should invite a guest to post on Trip Advisor. Why should Trip Advisor, he argues, have the dialogue with my client. Have them post to me! I'm the one who will act on their suggstions and make them feel like a valued guest. Not Trip Advisor. C'est la vie

Thanks for writing in

ks

Comment by Northeast News on December 29, 2010 at 9:07am
Interesting blog, Kaleel. Who was the writer who wondered why hoteliers aren't encouraging more TripAdvisor reviews? It's been my experience of late that when I check out of a hotel, whether it's a large one or a B&B, the desk clerk or the evaluation form or both encourage me to post some kind words on TripAdvisor. (They may be responding to bad reviews, too, but under pseudonyms.)

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