Today’s WSJ Business section includes an interesting article about the rise of social media in travel planning. The article explores whether social networks, such as Facebook, could lead to the demise of travel agents and guidebooks. (To be honest, I didn’t even know travel agents still exist, but I guess they do if the WSJ is referencing them.) To anyone active on forums, social networks and the Web in general, I think the answer is obvious. But it’s fun to read the reasons why knuckle draggers believe things will never change.
For example, here’s a quote from the article. “… as any Facebook user knows, the idea that you actually have anything in common with (or even know) all your “friends” on the site is questionable; take Goodson’s Prague adventure. Her advice came not from an actual friend, or even a friend of a friend, but from a high school classmate’s girlfriend’s cousin—whom she’s never met.”
I guess Goodson doesn’t know how to process data or make good decisions. I think most of us look at recommendations in light of the friend making the suggestion and weight it accordingly. And further, how do you know if you have anything in common with a guidebook author or travel agent?
Another good quote about the ‘perils’ of using Facebook for soliciting advice: “What, for instance, happens when a contact follows up to ask what you thought of that recommendation you ignored—or worse, hated?” Obviously, asking for recommendations is just that – – an ask for a recommendation. It’s not a promise that you’re going to act on it.
Criticism aside, the article does a very good job showing the evolution in travel. Hoteliers can no longer sit back and ignore user generated content. The time has come for hoteliers to engage on these sites and become actively involved to take advantage of all the conversations people are having about where to go, what to do and where to stay.
Read the whole article here.