Business travelers poised to take fun out of social media tools

Where are you looking for the latest travel information? Well, if you’re a business traveler, especially with a mid-sized company, you’re probably turning to social media tools. And, that makes more than a little sense, given the reach of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter (the former of which pierced the 500 million-user mark this week).

According to the latest research by American Express Business Travel, the white collar crowd is turning to social media more and more to stay in touch with other travelers and keep up with travel industry developments. This is just the beginning, however. Down the road, many expect to use these online utilities to engage more directly in business, particularly through webcasts, forums and online video.

Basically, businesses will figure out how to put to work what kids have been doing for years. The good news? Since social media tools will become synonymous with work for this population, wasting time on Twitter won’t be fun any more, and the boss will recapture some productivity.
According to Christa Degnan Manning, director, eXpert insights, American Express Business Travel, “As businesses around the globe alter the way they communicate and receive information from clients and prospects, social media has also proven to be a useful and effective tool to share pertinent information with employees and drive change in organizations.”

Half of the respondents to the American Express Business Travel survey indicated that “they use social media to some extent to support travel management today,” and the proportion went up to 59 percent for mid-sized companies (defined as $3 million to $10 million in air volume).

So, why do they use social media tools? Forty-four percent say they want to stay up on the latest travel information, with 43 percent reporting that they can “learn and communicate best practices and reduce business travel costs”. Other priorities include finding preferred vendors and services (42 percent), hunting for travel patters that could result in improved rates or services (34 percent) and encouraging networking among travelers (26 percent).

What’s most horrifying about this research? Well, it’s that social media tools are becoming useful …time to kill that FarmVille account, right?