Guest Post by: Jo Stratmann

According to a recent report in Travel Mole, the travel and tourism industry is facing a social media revolution.

The Social Travel Report, carried out by independent media agency Total Media, has found that almost 70% of consumers surveyed use the internet to book their holidays, compared to 23% by phone and just 8% in-store with travel agents.

Those seeking to go away on a break trust complete strangers more than recommendations from the travel industry itself, and most British holidaymakers see the internet as an extension of the word-of-mouth recommendations they receive from friends and family.

Online reviews on social networking sites like Facebook,  or travel websites like TripAdvisor, are now more influential than brochures, advertising, travel supplements and travel agents. And travellers are willing to write as well as be influenced by reviews. Almost one in every three UK holidaymakers over 16 has written a review online.

Perhaps surprising to some, it is a slightly older generation of consumers who are leading the travel social media revolution. 16-24 year olds are the most likely age group to visit a travel agent, while 74% of the 35-44 year olds who were surveyed use travel websites to book their holiday online.

So in order to regain lost ground, it seems that the more traditional travel and tourism operators need to become more social. Aside from developing a sustainable social media strategy, perhaps a more general message in this age of increased online conversation and heightened word-of-mouth is to engage with customers, not advertise to them.  Share things that would be of interest, encourage them to review your products and offerings, and interact with them online on a regular basis. By bonding with customers through social media, rather then bombarding them with information and sales messages, perhaps more traditional travel operators can enjoy the success of some of their online counterparts.

Some more reading

Original Post: http://www.freshnetworks.com/blog/2010/04/on-in-three-uk-holidaymakers-write-online-reviews/

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