Social media inspires travel envy

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An Adobe Digital Insights analysis predicted travel industry revenue will increase by $4.72 billion in 2017 — a 5 percent increase year over year.

The same study found there are an average of 14 million mentions of travel on social media each month — more mentions than Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift combined. And 97 percent of millennials post to social media while traveling, according to a study by Internet Marketing Inc.

BYU communications professor and Wallaroo Media founder Brandon Doyle said social media has led to an increase in leisure travel over the past couple of years.

Doyle said people are becoming more exposed to the world through friends’ and celebrities’ social media accounts.

“I think there’s a level of FOMO (fear of missing out) with travel on social media,” Doyle said.

Bill Grow, director of travel services for Utah-based travel agency Morris Murdock, said people “hop on board” with travel trends they see on social media.

Grow said Morris Murdock has taken advantage of this word-of-mouth type of social media advertisement by encouraging their clients to post their adventures.

“It gets their followers to want to visit those places,” Grow said.

According to the 2017 Economic Report to the Governor, revenue from hotel room rentals has been increasing by the millions in recent years in Utah alone. Salt Lake International Airport passengers also increased by 1 million fliers from 2014 to 2015. In the past years, there has also been an increase in national and state park visitors, hotel occupancy, travel-related employment, travel-related wages and traveler spending.

Jay Kinghorn, communications and digital strategy director at the Utah Office of Tourism Industry, said while social media has increased the number of tourists in places both commonly and less commonly visited around the globe, prices have not changed much.

Emily Holt
Emily Holt visits Dubrovnik, Croatia with her family after finding a cheap flight  there. Emily uses social media to tell people about cheap flights. (Emily Holt)

“Social media doesn’t play a transactional role in the travel industry,” Kinghorn said. “The powerful role that social media plays is introducing new places and creating a desire in people to want to visit those places.”

Doyle said new apps and websites have been created to help users find travel deals.

One tips-and-tricks account that is particularly popular in Utah is the Instagram page flightsfromhome.slc. Emily Holt, who said researching and finding cheap flights is a hobby of hers, runs the account.

After years of keeping up with flight prices for herself, she began sharing what she found with friends and family, which eventually led to the establishment of her Instagram page and over 50K followers.

“I think that social media has both inspired more travel and made it more affordable,” Holt said. “There are tons of social media bloggers, et cetera, that post amazing travel pictures to destinations off the beaten path. A lot of this has inspired travel to all destinations, but especially those that were previously a little more undiscovered.”

Jessica Connor
From right: Jessica Connor spends an evening in Spain with her friend Kristy Lau after seeing on Instagram Stories they were in the same city. (Jessica Connor)

Recent BYU graduate Jessica Connor uses social media to experience new places with her friends while traveling.

“I’ve had several experiences where I will be out of town or out of the country and see through Instagram or Snapchat stories that a friend of mine is in the same place, so I message them to meet up,” Connor said.  “I use social media as a way to connect and communicate with friends while traveling.”