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Are Social Media Travel Sites a Bust?

twitterfailsAre Social Travel Sites a Bust?

The header at Hotelmarketing was pretty blunt:  Social travel sites are screaming for attention-but users and suppliers are not impressed.

According to the latest PhoCusWright data, social media in general generates so little traffic to travel websites it makes anyone wonder if there really is a need for “dedicated social media sites for travel.”

In an earlier post at New Media Travel, we argued that travel marketers were in fact wasting their time on Facebook and Twitter.  

Now this recent study says a scant 3.5% of traffic to online travel agents (OTA) and hotel websites comes from social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Hotelmarketing  asks the unthinkable: how come so many travel start ups continue to get funding to solve problems that either don’t exist or are not revenue producing, or both?

It boldly asks, ” Where is the Social Media sweet spot?”

Tnooz includes the PhoCusWright infographic that shows how little travel-related social media drives bookings and revenue.

Tnooz article author, Stephen Joyce, makes it clear he is not referring to travel communities like Bootsnall or blogs (hopefully like this one and New Media Travel’s) because they are content focused. But he gives pretty low grades to social trip planning sites and social trip sharing sites.

Joyce’s figures may be arguable, but they are impressive: 22% of travelers use social media for possible travel deals. Sixty-five % use social media for all kinds of deals.

The takeaway seems to be that entrepreneurs seeking to create the next travel-related, cure-all website are wasting their time, because no one is listening.
Rather, to put it more kindly,  travel social media sites are great for sharing photos and experiences, usually posted on the spot, not after returning from a trip.
But they fail at making a business difference to companies looking to social media sites to improve their bottom lines.

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