Trends in the online travel industry have been changing rapidly since 2001, with the Internet playing an increasing role in the growth of several industries. The popularity of the Internet has been spearheaded by the fast evolving social media trends.
Even against the backdrop of a global slowdown, market research firm eMarketer has projected 10.5% growth in online travel bookings to $116.1 billion in 2009. According to eMarketer, the shift in the travel industry from the offline to the online channel would be the primary factor for the healthy bookings growth.
HotelMarketing.com expects 50% of all leisure travel bookings to be made online in 2010, as compared to 40% in 2008. Similarly, the percentage of meeting planners who are researching and placing their bookings through the Internet is also rising rapidly.
Prevalent Social Media Trends in the Travel Industry
Web 2.0, or the social web, has drawn an ever-increasing number of people to interact on the Internet. Many industries, including the online travel industry, follow social media trends closely and use the social web to reach out to their target audience.
Active on social media: The travel industry recognizes the marketing potential offered by social media. Travel companies are using blogs, forums, video sharing sites (like YouTube and Google Video) and social networking sites (such as Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn) to connect to the market. These platforms are used to spread awareness of products, advertise the launch of new products, provide customer support, answer customer queries and receive customer feedback. Sites such as Twitter are also being used to update people on new promotional campaigns and events, enhancing customer interest.
Integrating customer review sites in the travel planning process: Customer review sites (like TripAdvisor) as well as blogs and forums focused on the hotel industry are extremely popular among the various participants of the travel industry. These sites offer a common platform for consumers to exchange views, gain knowledge and plan their traveling trips. The importance of social media in travel planning is underlined by a survey conducted by Hotelemarketer. According to Hotelemarketer, about 28% of the travel planners surveyed used social media sites in 2006, as compared to 4% in 2005.
In order to capitalize on the social media trends, it is important to stay breast of all that is being offered by Web2.0.