PhoCusWright’s ‘Social Media in Travel 2012’ study, created in partnership with Circos Brand Karma and Travelport, found that more than three quarters of travellers turn to social networks to find some kind of shopping deal, and that 30% specifically seek out travel-related deals.
However, travel suppliers that have implemented booking tools, widgets or full-fledged booking engines within Facebook have so far reported mixed results, citing a range of challenges. According to the study, while internet users are accustomed to using Facebook to share their travel photos and stories, they do not appear to engage in social networks with the primary intent of purchasing travel, in the same way they do with travel sites.
“Everybody and their grandma may be on Facebook, but for many in the travel industry, that has not made social into a reliably actionable and demonstrably profitable marketing medium,” said Douglas Quinby, senior director of research at PhoCusWright. “The potential of social for travel may lie less in any one platform and more in the ecosystem of social data to socialise a traveller’s experience across a variety of online travel websites and mobile applications.”
Companies that have so far launched Facebook booking options include Best Western, Malaysia Airlines and KLM. The airline booking engines, such as KLM’s ‘Meet & Seat’ enable Facebook ‘friends’ to share booking profiles, make contact with fellow passengers, and even select a seat next to their social media friend.