Travel 2.0: The Rise of Travel and Hotel Social Media
There are no denying it, the future and destiny of travel and destination marketing is online. Research in the travel industry confirms:
This year, 40% of all leisure and 35% of business travel bookings will be done online. By 2010 over 50% of leisure bookings are expected to be online. The percentage of meeting planners researching and booking online is also growing at a rapid pace. An estimated 89% of planners are researching event locations on the web, and by 2008, 41% of all groups and meetings travel revenues will come from the Internet.
This reflects another trend in consumer generated content with social media:
CGM continues to grow in importance and popularity. Discussion boards and forums, blogs, social networks, customer review sites like TripAdvisor, and hotel-specific blogs dominate the Internet today and have become an integral part of the travel planning process. In 2006, 28% of travel planners researched CGM sites vs. 4% in 2005.
While hoteliers need to monitor and react quickly to CGM postings, and must establish a corporate policy regarding CGM, it is still important to make sure the hotel’s website is up to date, informative, optimized, and user friendly.
The increasing death of print media suggests a move toward online and social media marketing which allows you to create more targeted messages to individual niche groups and to leverage personal recommendations from your customers in order to create word of mouth marketing. Hotelemarketer highlights:
Many don’t quite see it yet, but social networks and microblogging services like Twitter also represent an evolution in the way we search the internet. Today, search has already moved beyond plain ‘web search’ to a mash-up of weblinks, news, photos, videos and groups…but all these still represent a search of the STATIC web. The ability to search what people are saying right NOW is a huge leap forward in terms of using the web as a ‘live’ window to the world. Great examples of this power have already been publicized over the past year…eyewitness Twitter updates during the Mumbai bombings before the media could get there, the use of the tool for ‘social justice’ by a U.S. student arrested in Egypt…and even the Barack Obama campaign’s use of Twitter during the elections.
Imagine a million voices discussing your product, brand or service. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to listen to what they’re saying? How about a simple web search?
Starting to get the picture?
All of this makes me think: where is my business going to be in three years and what can I do today to help it reach those goals? For travel and hotel marketers this seems like an urgent imperative to embrace social media or be surpassed by competitors in the travel industry.