Social Sites And Travel: Good For Looking, Not Buying

Social sites like Facebook are one of the sources considered when travelers look to find some sort of shopping-related deal. But how many travelers use social sites to actually book a trip?

According to PhoCusWright’s Social Media in Travel 2012: Social Networks and Traveler Reviews, 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. But companies that have implemented booking tools within Facebook have so far reported mixed results.

“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 Douglas Quinby, senior director of research at PhoCusWright in Travel Daily News.

According to the study, travelers do not use social networks to purchase travel, as they would search or travel sites. Sharing travel photos and stories on social sites is popular. Making purchases, not so much.
“The potential of social for travel may lie less in any one platform and more in the ecosystem of social data,” says Quinby, “to socialize a traveler’s experience across a variety of online travel websites and mobile applications.”

Need travel information in person? The up close and personal nature of travel shows like the New York Times Travel Show might be the answer. Travel shows feature exhibitors representing countries from around the world with a focus on travel destinations, packages and special offers, as well as tour operators, cruise lines and live entertainment for the whole family as we see in this video:

[Flickr photo by ideagirlmedia]

4 reasons why you need a Travel Expert in your pocket

This is the person you want to have on your side when planning travel. Not a Travel Agent, many of them are order takers who fill in the blanks on computer screens. Others try to be everything to everyone and that is just not possible.

Your Travel Expert specializes in one particular area of travel. It might be cruise vacations. They will know what cruise line will work best for you, keep on top of commodity-like cruise pricing and add a great deal of value to your vacation experience. It might be trips to Russia your Travel Expert specialized in. That person will know all there is to know, have been there a bunch of times (if not lived there) and probably speak a good amount of Russian. That’s the person I want helping me plan my vacation. Here are five reasons you need one of those people.

They know what to do in an emergency. You can bet that travelers on the ground in Egypt who have a Travel Expert on their side that knows the lay of the land are glad they do. Any travel agent with the right credentials can book a trip to Egypt. Someone who has visited there a lot or lived there will know specifically what you should do. You will be one of the people that made it out of the country while others lagged behind.

They will be honest with you. Any Travel Expert will tell you without hesitation if what you are looking for is not realistic. The last thing you want is a journey planned by a “yes” man who will say anything to get a sale. If you ever feel you are getting anywhere close to that situation you are not dealing with a Travel Expert. Look for your Travel Expert to speak at functions, teach classes, be involved with travel organizations and be easy to find publicly, like via Facebook, Twitter or a simple Google search.

They will insure a rich experience for you. That same knowledge that can give you an advantage if you had to evacuate a travel destination much more commonly works to enrich your travels. A Travel Expert knows people on the ground where you are going. Regardless of how you get there and what you want or need to see, its the people that will make the difference. A Travel Expert’s recommendation will get you in the door of places you might not ever see without his or her thumbs up.

They will encourage education. Everybody wants to talk about the fabulous places you will visit and things you will see. A Travel Expert will want to give you the knowledge over time that will allow you to appreciate what you will see and experience when you travel. In the olden days they would have given you a travel guide to read, maybe one printed by AAA, a leader in those sort of things. Today they will point you to sources like specific blogs, travel guide sites, and maybe send you a copy of the book they wrote.

You may end up paying one of these people for their expert advice. Be sure that advice comes gift-wrapped with that is called an Errors and Omissions insurance policy backing. That is insurance against loss if something goes horribly wrong directly due to advice you may have received from pretty much anyone in the travel business. Travel agents have it, so do Travel Experts who make a living selling their advice.

Photo: Wiki Commons