Travel is measurably one of Facebook’s fastest growing, strongest vertical, and this is the year Facebook will target travel as a major sales initiative.
As we reported in New Media Travel recently, impressively, 52% of the site’s users said that when they view Facebook, they already “started dreaming about a holiday even when they didn’t have one booked. And 95% use Facebook for ‘travel related activities’ prior to going on vacation.”
So what’s the bad news?
“Travel related activities,” may not mean buying travel through Facebook.
“Travel related activities,” may simply refer to the millions of people posting beautiful photographs, and excitedly sharing their travel stories, and engaging their friends and family in travel tales.
These activities seem to be doing very little for the travel industry in terms of converting this travel energy into bookers. They’re about socializing, not buying.
It could be that the travel industry is notoriously bad at not knowing how to sell, or to turn these conversations into business. Then again as Hotelmarketing.com pointed out, it’s probably that travelers use Facebook to socialize, not to research where to go.
They’ll post glowing (or not so glowing) images and comments to share, but turn to Google, TripAdvisor, Cruise Critic and the like to ask questions and get the hard information they need.
AllFacebook , (“the unofficial Facebook blog”) asks that if Facebook travel users and posters are basically advertising for the travel industry, and news feed recipients are inspired by the images, then logically the best place to get people buying travel would be Facebook.
Some like Delta Airlines do. And we know Facebook advertising executives are working hard to convince the travel industry and its suppliers that advertising on Facebook is smart business, precisely because of the millions of users taking and posting images on the site.
Why isn’t it happening? We don’t know for sure that it isn’t.
Anecdotally we hear it’s not.
A couple of reasons offered have to do with the expense of building apps that will work on Facebook. Another explanation is privacy concerns. Another, as suggested, is that people may not be comfortable booking travel through Social Media, though they are comfortable being social about travel on Social Media.
Would you book a trip on a Social Media site?