Travel companies underperform when it comes to social media

Travel companies are not fully capitalizing on the business opportunities presented by social media platforms, according to the Digital Channels in Travel report launched today by Facebook and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd. (Deloitte Global). The report asserts that travel companies must fully integrate digital channels into their overall business strategies in order to better engage with consumers.

The report’s findings are based on Deloitte Global’s review of data from a Facebook-commissioned global survey of 10,500 people who use social media. The survey data found that social media platforms (33 percent) ranked second only to friends and family (50 percent) as sources for travel ideas; followed by TV shows (32 percent), travel brochures (31 percent), and search engines (31 percent).

“Successful companies are investing in digital and adopting new technology and innovation faster than their competitors,” said Lee McCabe, global head of travel, education and consumer services at Facebook. “Internally, these companies are altering their organizational structures to eliminate siloed departments and are making digital essential to all departments and teams. The successful players in the travel industry aren’t viewing ‘social media’ as a separate entity, but as a key asset to their business growth and success.”

Yet, a recent study conducted by Deloitte LLP in the U.S. and MIT Sloan Management Review found that more than 50 percent of travel executives believe their companies are behind the competition with respect to digital media presence. These findings suggest that there is still more work to be done before travel companies can reap the rewards of a fully integrated digital strategy.

“Travel companies that are not taking advantage of the business opportunities presented by digital platforms are potentially missing out on important sources of growth,” said Adam Weissenberg, Deloitte Global sector leader for travel, hospitality and leisure. “With the right approach, digital can transform a travel company’s marketing efforts and deliver real ROI. However, effective strategies must be tied to business goals in order to begin to see real, tangible results.”

The report recommends that travel companies put three important steps into place. Firstly they must effectively measure their digital activities in the same way that they would traditional marketing media  - simply measuring “likes” is not enough, reports Marketing Tech News.

It also says that travel companies must do more than just collect information from consumers. They should put that data to good use to enable it to target specific audiences. Finally, as highlighted by McCabe, it says that integration of digital channels into the broader business is vital. “A successful organization is one that allows digital channels to cut across and support all the relevant parts of the business,” according to the report.