Social media plays the largest role in the first and last phases of a consumer’s travel decision-cycle inspiration and experience, according to the Digital Index travel and tourism survey conducted by Text 100, which examined the increasing importance of social media and mobile technology during four major stages: inspiration, decision, purchase and experience.
This correlates to the finding that 63 percent of survey respondents consider recommendations by friends and family the number one factor to inspire travel and social channels make sharing among friends and family easy.
Of people surveyed under the age of 34, 87 percent use Facebook for travel inspiration. More than half surveyed also use Twitter, Pinterest and other social media platforms for inspiration. And in the experience stage, 68 percent use their mobile devices to stay in touch with friends and family while on vacation – more than taking photos (43 percent) or checking the news (20 percent)
The study, conducted by market research firm Redshift Research, surveyed 4,600 consumers in 13 countries.
“Consumers are making travel decisions by simultaneously assessing information from an unprecedented variety of channels both digital and non-digital,” says Aedhmar Hynes, Text100 global CEO. “Travel operators and communications professionals alike must increasingly integrate their efforts across platforms in a manner that complements how consumers are already seeking inspiration, deciding on, purchasing and experiencing their travels,” said Hynes.
Of all consumers surveyed, 88 percent take a mobile device capable of receiving Wi-Fi or 3G on vacation. While many consumers already share content during the experience stage (52 percent post photos and videos during their travels, while 25 percent write reviews), a significant 49 percent of respondents said they would involve themselves more on social media if they had access to free Wi-Fi.
The study’s findings vary widely according to region.
In Asia-Pacific, more than 70 percent of travelers have used social media to inspire their holidays and base their eventual choices on friends’ recommendations (52 percent) and convenience (42 percent), higher than other regions. Asia-Pacific travelers are also the most likely of any region to purchase tickets through online links or advertisements, yet also prefer to book through traditional travel agents more than travelers in the United States or Europe.
In the United States, 58 percent of respondents under the age of 34 use social media to inspire destination decisions, while 37 percent of respondents consider travel blogger reviews first when making travel decisions. Most US respondents value relaxation (57 percent) and fun (46 percent) more than other regions when choosing a destination, yet 43 percent of US respondents also take a laptop with them (compared to the global average of 34 percent).
When it comes to purchasing tickets for attractions or activities, European and African travelers are more likely than any others to buy on arrival at the venue (43 percent), and the least likely to use online travel sites (23 percent). In Europe, 33 percent of travelers rely on online travel blog reviews to make initial decisions about travel destinations.