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.