How Big Is Social Media in Travel?

5th Apr 2010
How Big Is Social Media in Travel?

The social Web has shifted the online experience from searching and consuming to creating, connecting and exchanging. Yesterday’s more passive consumers and Web surfers are today’s content generators, collaborators and commentators. This fundamental change in how consumers are using the Web is having an enormous impact on online travel, according to PhoCusWright’s Social Media in Travel: Traffic & Activity. Traveler reviews, photos, trip planning and sharing, and blogging are all influencing how travelers connect to and interact with suppliers, products and services. The report is the first release in PhoCusWright’s Social Media in Travel series.

“There continues to be a big gap between the enormous promise of social media and the current reality of realizing and measuring those returns,” says Douglas Quinby, senior director, research at PhoCusWright. “With our partners, we analyzed nearly 1.9 million traveler reviews and visitor referral and conversion traffic from more than 50 social travel Web sites, as well as general social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. The result is the most expansive research into where and how online travelers are creating, consuming and acting upon social content.”

PhoCusWright’s Social Media in Travel: Traffic & Activity is a detailed examination of the role of online social media in travel. This report, conducted in partnership with Circos, Compete and Travelport, examines the impact of social media on major online travel categories, and outlines the implications for travel companies that wish to tap the potential of this highly dynamic form of traveler behavior. PhoCusWright’s Social Media in Travel: Traffic & Activity includes:

  * Extensive examination of travelers’ use of social networks for travel-related purposes, including:
      o The relationship between social network use and travel shopping behavior
      o Segmentation analysis of behavior of online travelers who are also social network and Twitter users

  * Analysis of the “social travel category,” organized around traveler review sites, hotel review pages of online travel agencies, travel blogs and social travel guides (community-based trip inspiration and planning)
  * Traffic, referral and conversion analysis of over 50 “social travel category” Web sites in relation to the online travel agency, airline and hotel Web site categories for 2008-2009
  * Referral and conversion analysis from general social networks (e.g. Facebook, Twitter) to hotel sites, OTAs and airline sites
  * Analysis of nearly 1.9 million traveler reviews posted on social travel category sites for 2008-2009, covering 27,000 hotel properties of 65 major hotel brands, including:
      o Where travelers are posting reviews and how this has changed over 2008-2009 (monthly basis)
      o Which social travel categories and sites are capturing the most user-generated content, and how has this changed
      o Sentiment analysis: how traveler review sentiment has changed during the recession


Despite widespread contraction in the travel industry in 2009, monthly visitors to social travel Web sites rose 34% between 1H08 and 2H09. Knowing how travelers leverage the social Web is an increasingly important key to success for those that need to better understand their customers and improve their ability to connect with them online. PhoCusWright’s Social Media in Travel: Traffic & Activity, a Global Edition publication, gives travel companies the knowledge and analysis they need to take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity. Take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity—purchase this report today (US$995).

PhoCusWright’s Social Media in Travel series will feature additional reports, articles and spotlights that further explore the dynamic relationship between social media and online travel.


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