30% of travelers turn to social networks specifically to seek out travel-related deals
However travelers do not appear to engage in social networks with the primary intent of shopping or purchasing travel
TRAVEL companies are still struggling to determine how best to harness social media platforms, according to travel industry research firm PhoCusWright.
The research firm’s recently released Social Media in Travel 2012: Social Networks and Traveler Reviews report found that there is still ongoing debate within the industry over whether to approach social media as a distribution channel, a customer service tool, a marketing and branding platform, a referral and lead-generation service, or all of the above.
Travel suppliers that have implemented booking tools, widgets or full-fledged booking engines within Facebook have so far reported mixed results, citing a range of challenges.
"Everybody and their grandma may be on Facebook, but for many in the travel industry, that has not made social into a reliably actionable and demonstrably profitable marketing medium," said senior director of research at PhoCusWright, Douglas Quinby.
The report found that more than three fourths of travelers turn to social networks to find some type of shopping-related deal and 30% specifically seek out travel-related deals.
Travelers are clearly engaging in social platforms, and often for travel, however the influence of social channels on the buying decision is less clear. While Internet users are accustomed to using Facebook to share their travel photos and stories, making purchases is another matter.
Most significantly, the report found that travelers do not appear to engage in social networks with the primary intent of shopping or purchasing travel, as they would when using search or travel sites.
"The potential of social for travel may lie less in any one platform and more in the ecosystem of social data to socialize a traveler's experience across a variety of online travel websites and mobile applications," Quinby added.
Created in partnership with Circos Brand Karma and Travelport, PhoCusWright's Social Media in Travel 2012: Social Networks and Traveler Reviews examines the role and impact of social media and user-generated content on the online travel landscape.