Social Media and Travel Industry

The Travel Industry took by surprise the number of people who “by-pass” them and simply ordered travel trips online in the 90’s. Specially after the “internet boom” in the late 90’s with websites being created at a fast pace.


I was surprised to know that the Travel Industry instead of “fighting” against online e-commerce and social media in general, they became part of this new reality. Maybe some travel agencies downsized or simply closed – the ones that did not adapted – but the Travel Industry started to focus on educating the customer on the benefits of having a reliable travel agency vs booking online.

The Travel Industry first took social media as a “threat”, then as an “opportunity”. They noticed that for some customers that are only interested in book a flight, they are most likely to use online services and simply book online. This new trend was explored by many new companies like Trivago, Expedia,Travelocity, TripAdvisor, etc…

Travel Agencies now focused on providing a service that goes beyond the fact of an airline ticket, they are now focusing on  all-inclusive packages for resorts, cruise line, or a combination of flight/hotel/transportation package.

As marketing experts pointed out: “agents need to embrace social media and use it as part of their marketing strategy, according to Ron Cates, international director, digital marketing education for Constant Contact: You engage with your customers – they are advocating for you.” .

I think that the Travel Industry, is an example of an industry that at first took online e-commerce as a threat, then learned how to adapt and use Social Media as an opportunity to target customers. (Below photo: a Travel Agency that became less popular after online booking).


Most of the large travel agencies have a Facebook, Twitter and several social media tools in their portfolio: “Content creation for travel and hospitality brands has traditionally been filled with imagery showing off the sights, accommodations and benefits of picking one brand over another. But social media, combined with new generations that favor experience over prestige, has created new influencers who often showcase different approaches to sharing their experiences…” (By Chris Kerns – VP of Research and Insights) Below photo:  an example of a Travel Agency that adapted to the competition of online booking.


Finally, Social Media helped to bring more attention to beautiful places in the world, and helped share the experiences of many travellers, therefore collaterally boosting the Industry.



Blockbuster vs Netflix


Blockbuster CEO John Antioco thought that online business and e-commerce was “a small marketing niche” therefore he was not impressed in purchasing a new company, called Netflix.

Reed Hastings the founder of Netflix, flew to Dallas in 2000 to explain his new business concept, and suggested that Blockbuster should take advantage of this concept. Actually, advising Antioco that Netflix should be running Blockbuster brand in the online industry, as Blockbuster should promote Netflix inside Blockbuster’s stores.


Antioco not only denied the offer but left the room laughing at Hastings idea. Ten years later, Blockbuster was declaring bankruptcy and Netflix was listed as a $28 Billion dollar asset company worldwide.

What happened with Antioco is just an example of how successful companies (including Netflix today) can have their solid grounds shaken and changed in today’s marketplace. Just think about Kodak ignoring digital cameras, Blackberry underestimating Apple, CAA ignoring Costco vehicle assisting program, as a few examples.


The interesting thing is that most of the top Executives of successful companies have good business concept. Antioco was not an exception to this rule. He brought Blockbuster to a strong brand position, having stores all over the USA and the world. Yet he laughed at Hastings proposition and probably thought that it was an insult.

Well, the opposite example was the CEO of Walt Disney, if they had stayed only with cartoon animation, they would have been bought out by another company by now, instead they invested in Theme Parks, Cruise lines, video games, movies and finally even  buying  Star Wars franchise.

The bottom line is that you need to pay very close attention to what is happening in the marketplace and never underestimate the competition.