New Report Examines Growing Impact and Implications of Social Media for Online Travel

Travel News Asia Latest Travel News Podcasts Videos Monday, 18 July 2011

Facebook may be a general social networking site, but its influence on travel planning and even purchasing appears to be on the rise.

A new report by travel industry research authority PhoCusWright reveals that not only is the social networking behemoth delivering more direct referrals to travel websites, but the rate at which those referrals become purchasers is outpacing some travel planning websites.

Created in partnership with Circos, Compete and Travelport, PhoCusWright's Social Media in Travel 2011: Traffic, Activity and Sentiment,  finds that average monthly unique visitors to social travel category websites travel review sites, traveler review pages of online travel agencies and travel blogs grew more than 35% from 2008 to 2010.

 And Facebooks reach in online travel appears to be gaining as well; the social network referred more than 15.2 million visitors to hotel websites in 2010, a 35% increase from 2009, and a 428% jump from 2008.

"Social media and social content are no longer a trend in online travel. They are pervasive and essential components of the traveler search-shop-buy process," said Douglas Quinby, senior director, research at PhoCusWright. "Travel companies now operate in a landscape where everybody has something to say, and ample means to say it. Their customers are sharing their experiences, airing grievances and inspiring friends."

The report examines the role and impact of social media and content on the online travel ecosystem and focuses on how social media influences the major online travel categories. Key topics include:

- Influence of social media and online social features in online travel planning and shopping

- Analysis of the "social travel category", organized around traveler review sites, hotel review pages of online travel agencies, and travel blogs.

- Traffic, referral and conversion analysis of more than 50 "social travel category" websites in relation to the online travel agency and hotel supplier website categories, from 2008-2010.

- Cross-visitation, referral and conversion analysis from general social networks (e.g., Facebook and Twitter) to hotel supplier websites and online travel agencies.

- The evolution of social travel guides, and the role of the social graph in trip planning and travel product selection.

- Detailed analysis of nearly 2.9 million traveler reviews posted on social travel websites from 2008-2010, representing more than 26,000 U.S. properties of 65 leading hotel brands

- PhoCusWright's "Buzz" social travel benchmark, which provides a gauge of social travel performance in terms of review volume and activity.

- Social Travel Advocacy Index (STAI) benchmark, which tracks traveler sentiment to gauge satisfaction with a particular hotel stay or brand.

PhoCusWright's Social Media in Travel 2011: Traffic, Activity and Sentiment, a Global Edition publication, is available at discounted early-bird pricing through 31 July 2011.

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