Travel and Tourism: The future of the sector in the hands of the Internet and social networks
The advancement of new technologies has also forced some sectors to “modernize” in order to try to be with their audience and get to connect with them. One of the industries that has noticed and much is that of travel since currently most people do not go to physical places but usually make their reservations directly through the Internet.
A report on the travel industry presented by iPerceptions shows how 27% of visitors to web pages about travel find them through search engines. The online search is only surpassed by direct visits to the Websites, something that 28% of its visitors do.
The reason for visiting these websites is firstly to reserve, although 20% say they are looking for information on the best plans and discounts on their own. This new trend is another clear example of increased use of search engines to investigate what to buy and what not. The reason why 14% of respondents say they have not made a purchase yet is because they are still looking or comparing different services or offers.
Travel agencies and companies related to travel could use these new trends of users to develop a marketing plan according to the needs of its users in order to achieve the desired approach to the client and consumer. Developing original content is a wise way to make users want to know more, offering the best information to consumers will help this market with their audiences no matter how they have reached their Web.
Search Engines and Social Networks: Couple of Aces
However, this journey of the traveling consumer does not end or is limited to search engines. Other data such as those derived from the study “Uses, attitudes and trends of the digital consumer in the purchase and consumption of travel”, conducted by IAB Spain and Nethodology indicate that 64% of consumers who buy their trips online use social media to share experiences, as well as that 94% of travelers share their negative experiences on the Internet, while only 70% share positive ones.
The Internet plays a central role when digital consumers are in their destinations. Eight out of ten (81%) use the Internet to find out which places to visit. One in four Internet users (29%) uses mobile geolocation applications. 64% use social media to share experiences or content (photos and videos) during their trip. 47% of them do it from a smartphone.
Content Marketing and Tourism: The power of other travelers’ experience
Social networks in this case are just a tool that allows you the possibility of extending the reach of your message to the entire virtual community, and with it its influence. From the point of view of content marketing we ask ourselves: what consequences do these comments have on our audience that are poured into the network every day? If they are positive opinions, to what extent can they favor the place, hotel or restaurant they mention? And if they are negative, will they affect my online reputation? It is a very tricky subject that must be taken into account, given that:
The users search the tourism blogs and social networks related to the sector their source of inspiration. They are the “friends 2.0”, whose lived experiences will be taken into account when planning a trip.
The opinions of consumers have a high reliability index. Indeed, the comments of users influence, and much; the tourism sector is especially sensitive to this type of content, since the user does not have prior experience on the product, will follow the indications of their environment, considers the comments of their peers as reliable sources.
Favorable opinions exponentially increase the likelihood of purchase, create a predisposition of the user to hire the service. According to Mariano Pérez Claver, president of the NH Hoteles hotel chain, “customers are willing to pay almost 40% more for products with positive comments in the opinion portals.”
Negative criticism has a devastating effect on the online reputation of the company they fall back on, the consequences can be dire.
The great challenge of mobile technology and social networks
Online marketing through social networks can become a powerful ally for the hotel sector, however for Spanish hotels this is still a pending task as according to the report itself, 36% admit not having a budget dedicated to this activity, while 16% will dedicate this year for the first time a part of their budget to develop strategies in social networks. Only 22% already had it last year and 24% expected to increase spending on online marketing actions and strategies on social networks during 2012.
Even so, the small and medium-sized Spanish hotel companies are the most active in social networks and those that have reached a phase of implementation of the most advanced electronic commerce, which places the sector to the hotel SMEs at the forefront in the integration of technology. Information and Communication (ICT) in their business activities, according to the fourth “ePyme Report-Analysis of the Implementation of ICT in Spanish SMEs”.
Mobile technology also seems to be particularly important in the sector. However, according to the data from a related report from TripAdvisor, 52% of those surveyed have not yet considered offering a program to involve travelers using mobile devices (for example, a mobile application, special offers on mobile devices, reservation through a mobile device, etc.).