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World Travel Market poll reveals one in three people change their plans after consulting social media

12 November 2010 15:36

World Travel Market poll reveals one in three people change their plans after consulting social media

Only one-in-three UK holidaymakers used social media when planning this summer's break, but the majority of those who did were likely to change their holiday choices as a result, reveals a poll by World Travel Market (WTM).

A nationally-representative sample of 1,000 UK holidaymakers, all of whom had taken a summer break this year, were asked about the impact that social media had during the decision-making phase. It emerged that 64% of the sample did not refer to social media sites – including reviews giant TripAdvisor – as part of their research.

For the remaining 36% who did use social media, TripAdvisor was the most popular, with two-in-three (66%) consulting the site. Around one-third referred to Facebook (34%), one-in-five (21%) looked at YouTube with 17% looking at Twitter.

Travel and tourism chat rooms and forums attracted 28% of the social media users, compared with blogs which accounted for 9%.

WTM's research found that 42% of social media users went ahead and booked their original choice. However, more than one-third (35%) changed their hotel as a result.

Other holiday components were affected, but to a lesser extent – 15% changed airline; 15% changed resort; 15% changed the agent or operator and 12% decided to visit a different country altogether.

Further analysis shows that 25-34 year-olds are the most likely demographic to use social media (46% of the total sample), with 45-54 year-olds least likely (24%). Looking ahead to next year, 48% said that they would not refer to social media when thinking about their 2011 holiday; 24% responded with a definite "yes" with 28% still undecided.

World Travel Market Chairman Fiona Jeffery said: "It's believed social media has revolutionised the travel and tourism industry, however the findings of the World Travel Market survey would dispute this.

"What is clear is the general perception of a travel company or holiday resort on social media does impact on potential bookings, so companies within the travel industry need to make sure they are fairly represented on social media sites."

Travel insurance specialist, World First, use social media effectively and the company has seen a dramatic increase in travel insurance policy bookings as a result of new ways of using their website, search engine optimisation and their presence on twitter and Facebook.