Photographer Corey Arnold, who shot the October 2016 cover story for National Geographic, discusses the power of social media to drive travel intent. “I see this desire to escape to these landscapes, to do something real, because more than ever everyone is buried in their phones. But where do they get the inspiration to travel? Instagram.”
People have always loved to travel, and nowadays, the prevalence of social media has taken the power of word-of-mouth travel recommendations to the next level. Consumers increasingly look to their social media channels for travel inspiration and validation, and what’s more impactful than a genuine destination recommendation from a friend in the form of their beautiful — and authentic — social posts?
In order to better understand just how customers let social media influence travel decisions when it comes to booking their next vacation, we put together this eBook: Influencing Travel: How to Turn Lookers into Bookers. Here’s a sneak peek into what’s inside.
1) Eighty-six percent of people (and 92 percent of Gen Z) said they’ve become interested in a specific location after seeing user-generated content.
Consumers scroll through their phones, hungry for content that will inspire their next move. According to a recent Stackla report, the content that is actually influencing them isn’t the branded content from a travel, tourism or hospitality brand, or the stock visuals that so often populate a travel website. And, only 48 percent of people say social content from a celebrity or influencer has sparked their interest in traveling to a specific location. Instead, a whopping majority of consumers find that organic, user-generated content (UGC) is what actually matters to them when deciding on a vacation.
2) Sixty percent of people said user-generated content is the most influential — up from 42 percent in 2017.
The influence of UGC is on an upswing — and only continuing to rise. Consumers crave authenticity, and the numbers prove it. A recent Stackla report found that 90 percent of consumers say authenticity is most important when deciding which brands they like and support. Nowadays, getting real makes a monetary impact.
3) Thirty-eight percent of people say that influencer content never impacts which hotel or resort they choose to stay at when traveling.
Influencer marketing just doesn’t have the same impact as the organic travel-created content. In putting together research for their next vacation, 59 percent of people reported they reference user-generated visuals on social review sites and 54 percent reference social networks. Yet, only 12% reference celebrity or influencer content as part of their planning process. Again, authenticity reigns supreme over staged, stock and paid influencer visuals.
4. Fifty-two percent of consumers say they’ve made plans to visit a specific destination based on an image or video they saw from friends, family or peers on social media — up from 43 percent in 2017.
It’s no surprise that consumers are heavily influenced by the people in their circles. User-generated content serves as a modern form of word-of-mouth marketing, and people take the advice from the people they care about to heart. UGC has the ability to evoke emotions — especially feelings of FOMO.
5. When asked how likely they would be to post a photo or video on social media, 89 percent of people said they would post about a positive travel experience.
It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? After an intensive hike to a rewarding view, a day at the beach or any other picturesque vacation excursion, expressing genuine excitement is simple by posting a quick photo to the ‘gram — and your followers will take note.
Social media has made it easy to share those positive travel experiences, and with consumers’ propensity to post, there’s a wealth of organic content at brands’ fingertips. Marketing teams need to capitalize on the fact that social media influence travel decisions and leverage it across their brands’ social channels.
Leading travel brands like Expedia, Leading Hotels of the World, Virgin Holidays, Visit Scotland and Busabout are leveraging the user-generated content that’s published across their customers’ social channels to drive their own content strategies — and they’re seeing results.
Download the new travel eBook to see how these top brands (and more!) are successfully optimizing consumer-created content across their multi-channel marketing strategies to drive bookings and boost engagement.