Social media is a phenomenon that has changed the way many people approach life. Prior to the introduction of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in the early ‘00s, people would have to call their friends to arrange meet-ups, use telephone directories to contact businesses and create physical photo albums to show off their holiday snaps.
Nowadays, daily life is beginning to revolve around social media, with a 2015 study suggesting the British public are very much addicted to it, with 72% of the British population being registered to at least one social media platform, with statistics showing that 93% of young adults (16-24) registered to at least one. Furthermore, we are addicted to checking these accounts several times a day and for half of the population, these accounts are checked within 15 minutes of waking up.
The travel industry is one that has dramatically changed thanks to the introduction of social media. Long gone are the days where people pop into the travel agents to pick up a selection of travel brochures. Now, social media sites are at the forefront of travel planning.
Serene sunsets and voluptuous views
Instagram is a perfect example of how social media is used to choose a destination, as the vast number of images on the platform act as a modern-day brochure and provide that much sought-after inspiration in the form of pictures of sandy beaches and sun-kissed tan lines.
Instagram uses geolocation tagging on its site, meaning that photos uploaded to the platform can be linked to a specific location. Users can also use a variety of hashtags to detail the gist of the image, many of which contain the name of a city or country. To filter a certain location, you simply have to click on the hashtag, or the location tag and you will be shown a wide variety of images of that location that have been uploaded by other users.
Images posted on Instagram usually make use of filters to enhance photographs and encourage likes. In terms of travel planning, it can make the location seem even more enticing.
Pinterest is a similar site to Instagram, as it is a photo-driven platform in which holidaymakers can find inspiration for potential locations.
Facebook is all about your friends list and what they’re up to, and is usually the first port of call for social media users to showcase their holiday snaps. This means if you are considering holidaying in a certain location, you can call on their Facebook friends for their knowledge of a location they have previously visited and their recommendations.
Assuming the user has actually been acquainted with that particular contact, the advantage of this is that they may be able to trust their judgement better than a review left in a travel brochure, or on a travel site.
Tweet the world
Twitter is different to Facebook in the way that anyone can reply to your tweets, assuming your privacy settings are set to public. This means that someone can tweet a question at certain accounts, or use specific hashtags to get information on a certain subject – in this instance, a potential holiday location from people all over the world.
The advantage of this is that you can collate a range of views from people who have been to these locations, and even from people who live there. They can offer insight into the best places to eat, the best time to visit and what you can do whilst you’re there. This is first-rate information that you may not have access to at a travel agent’s desk.
The main downside to this is the fact that these people are strangers and if you are not a risk-taker, can you trust their judgement? This is something a bit of further research can remedy.
It’s not just social media
Google has recently introduced a new feature to its Google Flights tool that enables you to see when the price of a fight is expected to increase or decrease and even notifies you of the likely change in price. Although Google is not a social media platform in itself, it is still a tool that travellers will begin to use in the planning process in order to grab a bargain on their way to paradise.
Travelling is just one industry that has been changed, many would say for the better, thanks to the introduction of social media.