Essay: The impact of social media and its impact on travel

In last 10 years, with the emergence of social media and digital platforms, traveling seems to have become easier for travelers across the globe. Travel is not just a fun or leisure activity any more. It is a means to connect with individuals across globe, to detach from loneliness & day to day affairs, to reconnect with family and to explore new places & serenity of the blue planet.
Travelers today have so much information to access before making any travel decision. From ‘Uncovering Gangtok’ blog by a leading travel blogger to a post on ‘top 10 destinations for this summer’ on Buzzfeed to a friend’s photographs on Facebook, all this information feeds into their decision making process. While travelers access all this information and reflect their views on digital channels, it has become important that service providers take notice of the aspirations of these new age travelers. It is critical for the brands to know what motivates these travelers to choose a particular airline, a particular hotel, an amusement park, a taxi service or a destination for family vacation.
It is necessary for brands to start making their presence felt on digital channels. But, it is equally important for them to realize that they are not doing this because this is an ‘it’ thing. Brands should realize how much value these channels can provide for running their businesses with more success & efficiency.
Marketing, awareness, sentiment and reach are those first things which come into the mind of brands when they think of digital channels. While all that has its relevance, digital channels today have matured beyond marketing activities and these KPIs. Today they are more about identifying ‘Consumer Experience’ value proposition. They are about business intelligence and actionable recommendations.
Brands should look at a five dimension approach to harness the true potential of their digital presence:

Monitor Right Trends:
Understand what’s happening now and how your target consumers are getting affected by these trends. Assess the possibilities of digital interactions affecting their travelling decisions in future. Social media conversations, mobile analytics and insight like ‘what my consumers are looking at’ to ‘how much time are they spending on a particular app/website’ can reveal so much information about your consumers. This information if put into use properly, can help brands not only offer better services but also plan & prepare for future.
Sail in the Right Direction:
There are thousands of focus groups present on social media and smart data crawlers allow access to those conversations. Using insights just from primary research methods or any single channel can guide brands towards marketing, products or strategic disasters. Insights from channels like website, mobile, social media and traditional research should be combined & consumed to design a brand’s strategic roadmap. The outcome of such amalgamation should direct brands towards understanding the unmet needs of the consumers and enhancing customer experience at every step of their interaction with the brand.
Follow the Right Stars:
Studies have suggested that a third party review or appreciation looks more legitimate than a sponsored commentary and hence, considered as more effective in drawing new customers towards the business. From correctly identifying these stars on regular basis to engaging them by providing information on regular intervals, it is critical to keep updating the pool of such stars to maintain the balance of advocacy on digital channels.
Carry a Surprise Value:
Imagine a customer travelling with her mother to their home country after 7 years, what can a brand do with this information about their consumer? Wouldn’t it be great to surprise them with a souvenir which reminds them of their country during the entire journey and makes it more beautiful for them? It would be. Right! Also, with all the probabilities, they will think of this experience while planning their next visit. They will think of this experience when someone asks them for a recommendation. The million dollar question is, how would a brand get to know that in the first place? And the answer is, by careful listening of customers on social media and then establishing a system which enables you to take such actions in quick time. There can’t be a limit on how well you can serve your customers, you just keep on improving.
Shoot for a Perfect Game:
We know that travelers today are more and more demanding. They are increasingly giving away traditional means of communication systems and opting for new & agile systems. They prefer companies who are responsive and come across as the companies who care for their consumers. Calling a customer service number, giving all the details again & again and then waiting for someone to act after 10 hours is not an option for the travelers today. They are opting for open & public communication platforms to register their complaints and social media is the most popular one. If monitored carefully, social media data itself (from owned and third party platforms) can give deeper insights and diverse content for brands to understand & serve their customers better. The key is how well you learn from the past, engage them in present and optimize your efforts in future so that you not only retain your customers but also gain new ones.

From identifying the need of system upgrades to deliver better services to increase brand awareness to run efficient campaigns to improve employee behavior to identify training needs to manage a crisis to ensure that your brand not only meets service expectations of your consumers but also exceeds their expectations, digital channels have given whole new array of options to the brands. Do you believe your brand is harnessing the true potential of your digital presence?

Source: Essay UK -

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