Are Travel Marketers Wasting Time on Facebook and Twitter?
How surprising is this: In the second half of last year, fewer than 1% of visitors arrived at a hotel or travel booking site, "via a social media link or a link shared by a friend," reports Hotelmarketing.com. Does this mean hotels are wasting their time chasing the Holy Grail of Twitter and Facebook?
We love our friends' photos and status updates, the report goes on to say, and it's very true that Social Media platforms and channels do develop loyalty.
The contests do lead to deeper branding, but, it seems, all that presence and activity don't lead to proportionately to increased bookings.
It depends on the industry.
IMedia Connection, a marketing site, reports that science, business, news and entertainment visits prompted by links from other sites (Blogs; Social Media Sites) jumped from 9% in August 2011 to an average of 32% in August 2012."
But the "voice-of-customer surveys" also shows that the same kind of connectivity growth did not apply to the Hospitality/Travel business, especially hotels.
They lag behind.
In fact, the number of visits that come from search engine results or typing in a URL ranged between 55 and 61% - vs. the 1% of visitors arriving at a hotel or travel booking site by way of a Social Media channel or link shared by a friend.
The apparent conclusion of the study is that "social media noise" matters less when booking a holiday or a hotel, than the "informed" or "perceived impartiality" afforded by key word searches and personalized research.
Interestingly, as iMedia point out, other industries like the automotive industry also benefit less by Social Media presence and more by targeted, SEO searches.
Again, how come?
It seems car buyers are not especially concerned with keeping up with the Smiths, an imperative implied implied in Social Media.
Price, budget and specifications matter more than what friends say.
But by no means should the travel industry or any industry step back from its investment in Social Media.
It needs to be aware that spending to optimize SEO, may be as good or better an investment that courting Bloggers or counting too much on Social Media's clout.
As we have said, an integrated approach is critical, where each marketing dollar support the other, especially, it seems, in travel.