What’s in a like? A lot of influence when it comes to travel planning, according to a new report executed by Facebook with help from financial consulting giant Delotte Global.
The report asserts that travel companies must fully integrate digital channels into their overall business strategies in order to better engage with consumers.
The report’s findings are based on Deloitte Global’s review of data from a Facebook-commissioned global survey of 10,500 people who use social media. The survey data found that social media platforms (33 percent) ranked second — only to friends and family (50 percent) — as sources for travel ideas. These channels were followed by TV shows (32 percent), travel brochures (31 percent), and search engines (31 percent).
Not surprisingly, however, a recent study conducted by Deloitte LLP in the U.S. and MIT Sloan Management Review found that more than 50 percent of travel executives believe their companies are behind the competition with respect to digital media presence. These findings suggest that there is still more work to be done before travel companies can reap the rewards of a fully integrated digital strategy.
Lee McCabe, Global Head of Travel, Education and Consumer Services at Facebook, noted: “Successful companies are investing in digital and adopting new technology and innovation faster than their competitors. Internally, these companies are altering their organizational structures to eliminate ‘siloed’ departments and are making digital essential to all departments and teams. The successful players in the travel industry aren’t viewing ‘social media’ as a separate entity, but as a key asset to their business growth and success.”
Key recommendations from the report include:
- Effective measurement – To fully maximize the opportunity presented by digital channels, companies must hold their digital activities to the same standards of measurable return that they apply to traditional marketing tools (i.e., television and print). Measuring the number of “likes” is not meaningful on its own unless it can be connected to a larger and measurable business goal. Digital media isn’t new anymore, and its reach and potential continues to evolve. The sooner companies can adapt to these new techniques and integrate them with their core business strategies, the quicker they can transform their digital outreach from an expense to a profitable investment.
- Leverage digital channels to improve targeting abilities – Collecting information on consumers is only the first step. Brands need to effectively use data to target specific audiences; this is the catalyst that sets digital channels apart from traditional marketing methods. By targeting specific consumer cohorts, companies can be more efficient with their spending and dedicate more resources to consumers who are likely to generate revenue for the company.
- Integrate digital channels into the broader business – Digital operations need to happen right alongside operational activities to be effective. An effective digital strategy cannot happen if digital marketing lives siloed on the organizational chart – and the optimal location for digital operations is unique to each company. A successful organization is one that allows digital channels to cut across and support all the relevant parts of the business.
“Travel companies that are not taking advantage of the business opportunities presented by digital platforms are potentially missing out on important sources of growth,” says Adam Weissenberg, Deloitte Global Sector Leader for Travel, Hospitality & Leisure. “With the right approach, digital can transform a travel company’s marketing efforts. However, effective strategies must be tied to business goals in order to begin to see real, tangible results.”
Some interesting takes from the study:
76% of people viewed have a dream trip list but only 8% have been anywhere on their list.
50% of people studied liked a travel brand on Facebook, mostly hotels and airlines.
37% of those studied use travel agents to book their vacations
76% of those surveyed read online reviews to find insider knowledge not available anywhere else.
83% of those surveyed use the Internet while on vacation: 42% use laptops; 37% use tablets; 64% use smartphones.
48% post photos of their vacation to Facebook when they return home; 33% do so while on vacation.