Social media is exerting an increasing influence on how individuals choose to travel, although a large percentage of travel agents in the UK admit that it does not form part of their working practice. A survey of UK clients carried out by Amadeus , a leading transaction processor and provider of advanced technology solutions for the global travel and tourism industry, analysed the impact social media has had on the travel sector, providing a snap shot of sentiment across the UK. Addressing both business and leisure travel, Amadeus questioned how individuals, companies, and customers, were using social media as part of the booking process. The findings show that:
· 52 per cent of those surveyed said that they had dealt with customers who had obtained travel advice through social media before consulting a travel agency.
· 40 per cent of agencies polled admitted they had yet to integrate social media into their working practices.
· 67 per cent of respondents stated they would make use of social media to inform their own choice of hotel and travel provider.
However, company-managed aspects of social media were uniformly praised. Sixty-four per cent stated that social media channels are employed within their company to engage with existing customers. While 60 per cent of agencies are using social media to generate new business.
Rob Golledge Head of Marketing and Communications, Amadeus UK stated: “Many agents are still sceptical of the validity of information obtained from social media sites. However, one of the principal barriers seems to be the sheer amount of data available online. Travel agents have a key role to play here in accessing this information and using it to provide specialist knowledge and insight.”
Rob Golledge continued: “Travel agencies have been quick to identify the positives that come from using social media to engage with customers and generate new business. Our research shows that many acknowledge the potential role which social media can play in the travel industry. But if it is to play a significant role in the booking process, companies need to be able to extract useful and trustworthy information.”