In the time of technology, social media has become a very influential travel inspiration in Africa and elsewhere. People are creating seamless travel motivation through sharing their travel experience. Purchasing a flight ticket, booking a hotel, car hire activity and all are increasingly taken up from recommendation through social media. Consumers are relying on valuable tips from various social media channels to plan, facilitate and share their travel experiences.
Social media channels have become a focus for consumers who are enjoying a free content and easy access to connect with other travelers and share their experiences. According to studies from the travel sector, frequent travelers make the most use of the networks and those within the 25-34 years age bracket are mostly using social networks to get ideas and inspiration for their travel plans.
On the other hand, social media has had a massive impact on every industry across the globe and the travel industry is no exception. Social media has become a vital part of a traveler’s experience from researching about the destination and facilities to engagement throughout the duration of travel and even post-trip reviews and feedback. Travelers are becoming increasingly influential due to social media platforms competing to be the main non promotional information sources. It has also forced companies and accommodation service providers to adjust their services and facilities to appeal to travelers and to create satisfactory experiences, increasing their social media appearance.
In collaboration with the page follower’s, social media has provided opportunities for businesses to sell themselves in a much cheaper way. The channel has emerged as one part of customer service, marketing and customer engagement tool allowing customers to have fast and easy service purchase experience. Facebook is one of the prime destinations for sharing life events and travel related pictures and information. Most travelers continue to be inspired by their friends’ vacation photos on social networks to travel to a new destination.
This itself is an important notion for countries such as Ethiopia, since social media is an imperative cheaper research tool for vacationers. Posting entertaining posts, encouraging readers towards taking vacations, posting attractive destination images and interacting with consumers who reach out are all marketable ways to engage users and potentially drive them towards taking the trip. Engaging with those consumers who are passionate about travel remains to be the main aim of travel companies and countries in social media activity.
Gone are the days when one would simply explore from one travel agency to another to pick up brochures, or perhaps spend some time reading travel guide books and magazines to get ideas about remote and exotic destinations. Today, 87% of all travel related searches start online according to a Google Ipsos MediaCT study. It is also a behavior across various traveler segments, from business to leisure and family travelers. The best part of the online research is it can be conveniently done during a free moment at work over a desktop, on-the-go with a smartphone or wifi-enabled handheld device, or at home with a laptop or digital tablet.
Nowadays, customers simply don’t purchase travel packages like they used to. Easier access to smart phones, social media and new technologies which have made the world more connected than ever, enable customers to make informed decisions. The travel environment has changed and so are the stakeholders adopting to the new online trend. Online resources play an increasingly important role in shaping inspiration for future destinations and things to see and do. Online review sites are the most influential resources to shape traveler opinions about a destination, hotel and attraction. Thus, accommodation service providers equally care about how they are showcased on popular online travel companies such as Jumia Travel, as they care about their social media presence; since travelers search their travel planning process from both social media and official websites pages.
Once at the travel destination, this is where and when social media hit its peak relevance. People would get reviews and pictures by people who are sharing their experience and people trust it. Although customers say recommendations from family and friends are the most trusted information, social media word of mouth have also received significant trust, increasing both travelers’ and company’s reliance on the platforms. People’s habit of sharing pictures and writing reviews of destinations and hotels create an opportunity for more people to see services within the travel industry, by just logging into their social media pages.
Certainly, social media enjoy remarkable success in terms of adoption and usage levels influencing markets and services. It causes dynamic shifts on how people connect and communicate with each other, on how they express and share ideas and even on how they engage with services, brands and organizations. Moreover, social media has become a significant source of consumer knowledge. In travel and tourism, the impacts of social media have already been described as huge, mainly due to the empirical nature of tourism offers and particularly of those holiday trips where purchases are considered risky and decision making processes are information intensive.
By Eden Sahle