22 Sep 2011

What's Next For Travel in the Social Space?


With so many trends emerging in the social space, how can hotels know where to invest their time and money? That's the common question making the rounds through marketing and sales meetings at hotels around the world. 

The opportunities for hotels and consumers to weigh in on the social space continues to grow. Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare, Tumblr, TripAdvisor and now, Google Travel, have opened the doors for more online content, more consumer reviews and of course, more commentary.
In the past year, some hotel companies set grand trends with their online presence. Ritz Carlton introduced their concierge from hotels around the world on Foursquare; InterContinental brought local attractions to guests through hotel iPads; Four Seasons hotels recently took to Twitter to introduce chats with hotel staff from their Toronto hotel; Thompson Hotels introduced a new booking engine on Facebook, where guests can book rooms through the hotel's Facebook page instead of being redirected to the hotel's website booking engine. The end result: a lot more followers, friends and fans, which the hotels hope to turn into clients.

But can these social sites stand the test of time against the continuously changing travel industry? Marco Saio, Director of Global Research & Projects at EyeforTravel, recently posed these questions to some of the leaders at the top social sites.

Rohit Dhawan, Lead Product Manager, Facebook said, "Today, there are more Facebook profile pages than there are web pages. This social web really means that people are at the centre of marketing – in all industries, including travel. There is now an even greater opportunity for marketers to create an on-going, two-way dialogue between their brands and their customers."

Rob Torres, head of travel for Google, said mobile marketing will be the big booking vehicle for travel in 2012. Telling EyeForTravel, Torres said, "The growing adoption of web-enabled mobile devices is revolutionizing how many companies do business. Travel brands have an opportunity to take advantage of this trend."

Some stats that might interest you from Torres:

  • The number of mobile users researching travel is expected to grow 51% in 2012.
- 34% of all US smartphone users research from their mobile device 
- 23% of all international travelers use mobile check-in for flights
 - By 2012 18% of mobile users will also book from their smart device.
Torres also put forward these thoughts:

"2009 all over again....Travel shoppers will continue to search for deals and discounts at record levels. In 2012 consumers will again be willing to invest more time in the research process in order to save money – they will look for the best deals they can find, to get the most bang for their buck. Flash sale sites will continue to flourish....especially in the travel space."



Hotels: Do you think he's right? What are your predictions for the online travel space in 2012? 






This article was written by Melanie Nayer for 4Hoteliers.com

Melanie Nayer is a hotel reviewer and expert on luxury travel around the world. She has covered all aspects of hotels including corporate restructures, re-branding initiatives, historical aspects and the best of the best in luxury hotels around the world. 

Melanie writes a weekly exclusive column for 4Hoteliers.com