Social media platforms and networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat have caused a massive shift in the way that we view travel. Not only do we want to travel more than ever before but we also want to share our own travel experiences with others. In this digitally-orientated age, we are rarely without our smartphones and we love the idea of being connected to so many other people, if we weren’t then we wouldn’t be so obsessed with ‘checking-in’ on Facebook or tagging ourselves on Instagram. It is predominantly because of our obsessive behaviours when it comes to sharing that social media platforms like the ones mentioned above, have redefined the way we think and behave when it comes to travelling and it doesn’t look like it’s going to change any time soon.
But what is the reason behind travel being redefined and how has it come about? We look in just a small amount of detail at some ways that social media has contributed to changes in the travel industry:-
We want something new
Once upon a time, if you wanted to travel on holiday you would have to head down to your local travel agent and browse their collection of brochures in order to find the right destination for you. Now we have a whole wealth of photographs, recommendations and inspiration at our fingertips and it has given the whole industry a huge shake-up. We are being motivated to travel further, to search for a more authentic experience when we do travel and to push the boundaries on what has already been done. It isn’t enough now to just book a two week holiday in the sun, we want bigger and better and we want it now. It is precisely because of social media networks that we are travelling into more exotic places than ever before; places which would previously have seemed too far away are now quite common place and people don’t view long-haul travel in the same way that they once did. On top of that, our quest to showcase our amazing holidays pushes us to try things and to venture into experiences we wouldn’t have ever thought possible.
We want to share
Oversharing is the name of the game at the moment and the majority of us love to upload our photos and videos to show off to our friends and family, preferably whilst we are still out enjoying ourselves on holiday. This means that we are more demanding when it comes to the facilities we find in our hotel; we expect there to be free wireless internet for one and it also makes us more savvy about the type of holiday we choose to go on too. Sharing photos and videos creates a circle effect; friends and family see inspirational and vibrant images and are themselves inspired to book a trip and share photos which in turn goes on to entice other people and so on and so on. Although some people turn their noses up at the amount of sharing done online it is actually giving the tourism industry a huge boost as people are now much more willing to invest money into travelling in order to capture those same memories they have seen shared by other people.
Of course this does also have its downsides and whilst we are all too happy sharing our enjoyable moments, we have also become quite adept at sharing when things don’t go right either. Delayed flights, lost luggage or simply a hotel which didn’t live up to its reputation…everything is fair game and more people are turning to social media to air their grievances when something goes wrong. Whilst some people may say that this is fair and right; that people should be able to share and warn other potential travellers, there does also have to be a certain amount of common sense applied when reading other people’s complaints. Each individual person will come with their own set of expectations so just because one company or brand doesn’t match them, doesn’t mean that they should be written off. Likewise however, a brand or company should do their best to assist customers and guests and ensure that they have the best possible experience when travelling. It is best to try to read a wide number of opinions before forming your own if you plan to research on social media before booking your next trip.
We want to connect
Far from social media making us less interactive, it would seem that when it comes to the world of travel we are actually more of a community than ever. Like-minded people are gathering together on social media networks to share their gems of knowledge, to offer advice and support to travellers and even a place to stay for the night if people find themselves in a sticky situation. It is because of social media that a person can book a room at the Montcalm, having never been to London before, and then throw out a request for hidden locations worth visiting, before ending up with a whole host of places to go and see. There are numerous hashtags which can be used to identify yourself as a person who likes to travel and there are even apps and programs which allow you to physically arrange a meeting with other people in your chosen destination (although we would always recommend caution in these types of situations).
But social media has ultimately opened up a whole wealth of travel possibilities which many of us would never before have considered and this can only be to the better. We are learning more about different cultures, investing in the tourism industry and raising the expectation of what we expect when we travel.