Many people turn to social media to connect with friends across nations and continents. But lately, travelers use Facebook and Twitter to discover more about future travel getaways.
Almost 40 percent of leisure travelers in the United States look to Internet reviews for travel advice, according to eMarketer.
BYU grad and travel consultant for Melroy Travel Faroe Robinson has seen the positive effects that social media can have on travel and how more people are turning to social media for travel expertise.
“People see pictures and they see people going to these different places and it makes them want to travel more,” Robinson said.
The impact social media can have on traveling is apparent. There are countless Facebook profiles, twitter accounts, and blogs dedicated specifically to travel. Some popular travel blogs include classetouriste.be, tuulavintage.com and foxnomad.com. These blogs feature the serenity of travel and advice to make your travel plans the best possible.
Debbie Pappyn from Classe Touriste currently has around 3,300 likes on Facebook and another 3,100 followers on Twitter. Her travel blog includes the continents and countries that she has visited along with a “One Day One Photo,” which depicts where she is on any given day. According to Pappyn only the best in travel make it onto her blog.
Kristin Geiger, a BYU student currently on her second study abroad in Spain agrees that social media and advice found on the Internet has affected her travels. She plans to travel to Italy during the two weeks she has after her study abroad in Spain ends.
“My choice to go to Italy after Spain had a lot to do with social media,” Geiger said. “I knew it was on my bucket list, but the more and more people told me to go the more I wanted to go. Also, I could see peoples’ pictures of the sites I had wanted to go to. Not only did I want to go to Italy, but people on social media helped to influence specifically which cities and locations I should see.”
It is becoming a common practice for social media users to post a quick status about questions they have with travel and expecting other users to give them their opinions or advice. Users also will upload photos from their travels to social media for their friends to see. This trend is helping the travel agency industry.
“Facebook and Pinterest and all different forms of social media have been good for our business,” Robinson said. “A lot of people get inspired by pictures that people post on Facebook.”
The more people post, the more that others want to travel. But just like everything on the Internet, travelers should take the things that seem too-good-to-be-true with a grain of salt.
“A lot of people just go on the internet and try to find a cheap deal and it may or may not be what the pictures say,” Robinson said. “Travel agents are such an underutilized resource. We can find a cheap hotel or deal that we know will be what we say it is.”
According to Robinson, what most people don’t realize about travel agents is that their advice is free. Travel agents are not paid by customers going to see them but are paid on the backend when customers purchase deals through hotels or flights.
Robinson’s advice to students looking to travel is to get out of their comfort zone. Instead of going to “safe” places where everyone goes like Hawaii or Mexico, Robinson suggests speaking with a travel agent who can direct students to go to a place more off the map for the same cost. She also recommends that if students do decide to get a deal online to ensure that it really is giving them what they are paying for.