Published on Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Industry still undecided on social media's worth, hears TIQT

The travel industry is making use of social media but it’s still doubtful about return on investment, TravelMole’s Travel Industry Question Time session heard yesterday in London.

With limited budgets, lack of clarity on strategy and a fear of negative responses, only sections of the industry have grasped the nettle when it comes to engaging with consumers, delegates heard, and even then they may not be using social media as effectively as they could be.

With a panel of experts comprising search agency Hit Riddle’s Matt Barker, review site Qype’s Sarah Drinkwater, advertising agency Conrad’s Nick Henley and social media agency Yomego’s Richard Rust, the debate on how best to use the likes of TripAdvisor, Twitter and Facebook saw many at the session admit they were still perplexed on how to measure whether it was working in terms of bookings.

But Drinkwater was adamant everyone in the industry needed to get onboard. She said: “For me, it’s not a matter of whether you want to engage, it’s about having to. Businesses are nervous about it but more and more they are realising that it’s the best way forward to reach new consumers and solidify what the brand is.”

Henley added: “The problem with social media is that you put the money in and you have to work out where the value comes back. But people can’t always measure that.”

Hit Riddle’s Matt Barker disagreed with Drinkwater, however. He said: “There is a myth that you have to do social media. It is not necessary for everyone’s online marketing strategy. I think there is just too much hype about social media.

"I ran a marketing team for a travel agency and I know that the traffic you generate from a Facebook campaign will not give you quality leads as much as more traditional stuff like organic search or pay per click.”

He said leads from travel discussion forums were much stronger than those from general social networking sites. “People using Facebook are not necessarily on the purchasing cycle," he explained.

Yomego’s Richard Rust believes that it’s crucial to enter the social media world simply because it is an extension of people’s every day lives. He explained: “It’s intrinsic to how people purchase things and that’s why Premier Inn incorporated TripAdvisor views onto its site. Enhancing your reputation is very valuable – it’s just about measuring its value.”

But all agreed that if companies are to engage in social media, then it has to be done properly and consistently.

Said Drinkwater: “There are dangers in not using it wisely. You must have something to talk about, useful content and a particular campaign in mind.”

Henley said one of the best aspects about social media was that it made companies raise their game. He explained: “You can’t go out there and start talking about your company unless it’s good. Social media makes you sort your house out.”

It was also unanimously agreed that companies should take a cross-departmental approach to social media.

Said Henley: “15 years ago, when we talked to companies about the internet, the web was dealt with by a single department. Now it impacts every department. It should be the same approach for social media. Everyone should be involved in reacting to customer feedback.”


by Dinah Hatch

TIQT is sponsored by , Amadeus and Yahoo

Story Image

Your Comments (7)

, be the first to post a comment.
Your email:

Email other comments made to this story
Code Request a new picture 5 characters

NOTE: Comments are subject to admin approval before being posted.
  • Think about specific uses, not the hype

    I was on the panel at this event and the point I kept coming back to was that "social media" isn't a black box that is, by definition, a miracle marketing tool that we should all be doing, no matter what the business size or marketing priorities. Social does have some very specific and fairly limited uses for most small/medium travel businesses. Thinks like travel discussion forums, hosting deals on Facebook, or API integration offer a lot of benefits, but we should stop talking about "Doing Social" and start talking about specific campaigns & uses. Hopefully the next session will address some of those specific, practical applications.

    By matt barker, Sunday, July 10, 2011

  • We would ALL like to know

    ""In my opinion the best social media website on the Internet barely gets a mention." David, what, in your opinion, is the best social media website on the Internet? Penny, I'll email you." Why only Penny, I am sure we would all like to hear from David!

    By Ganz Schrott, Thursday, July 7, 2011

  • "Ought" and "doing" and "networking"

    I was at this session and the predominant feeling that came across was that people thought they "ought" to be "doing" social networking but couldn't quite see why. I think the words "ought" and "doing" and "networking" are the problem. To build your name and brand you need to be constantly sharing interesting information and content across appropriate platforms and engaging in conversations where you have something interesting to contribute without worrying about ROI or constantly promoting your offer.

    By Alison McGowan, Thursday, July 7, 2011

  • Best Social Media Website

    "In my opinion the best social media website on the Internet barely gets a mention." David, what, in your opinion, is the best social media website on the Internet? Penny, I'll email you.

    By David Burdon, Wednesday, July 6, 2011

  • What is the best?

    "In my opinion the best social media website on the Internet barely gets a mention." David, what, in your opinion, is the best social media website on the Internet?

    By Penny Bateman, Wednesday, July 6, 2011

  • There are plenty of proofs that social can work

    The sooner we start equating social media with listening to customers and 2 way conversations and less with campaigns the more successful our social media activity will be. It will change how we do business and you have to plan for it. I'm not surprised at how confused people are but let's cut through the hype. Social is not just Facebook and Twitter. Your activity needs to be measured and aligned with your business strategy. As a participant in the session today I think we did not delve enough into the things that are stopping people from getting started. Education on how it works and how your consumers and business partners use social is key to seeing the opportunities. That's why the listening comes first.

    By Kathryn Bullock, Wednesday, July 6, 2011

  • The Jury's Still Out

    We can see the value of TripAdvisor for bookings. And LinkedIn for career management. But the jury is still out on Facebook, Twitter et al. Most of the claims for social media ROI ignore the vast amount of executive time and management bandwidth required to generate any sort of presence. In my opinion the best social media website on the Internet barely gets a mention.

    By David Burdon, Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mole Poll
Drinking limitation at UK airports - Good idea ?
YES 73.63 %
NO 26.37 %

Thank you for your vote

Move scroll bar (above) left to right for more videos!

Sponsored features

Delivering a seamless customer experience

Great Customer Experience can have a huge impact on a company's bottom line, and it starts with understanding your customer's expectations at each stage of the buying process.