January 27, 2015

Travel companies are yet to fully capitalize on the potential of social media


A new report 'Digital Channels in Travel' published by Facebook and Deloitte Global, asserts that travel companies must fully integrate digital channels into their overall business strategies in order to better engage with consumers.

The report’s findings are based on Deloitte Global’s review of data from a Facebook-commissioned global survey of 10,500 people who use social media. The survey data found that social media platforms (33 percent) ranked second only to friends and family (50 percent) as sources for travel ideas; followed by TV shows (32 percent), travel brochures (31 percent), and search engines (31 percent).

Yet, a recent study conducted by Deloitte LLP in the U.S. and MIT Sloan Management Review found that more than 50 percent of travel executives believe their companies are behind the competition with respect to digital media presence. These findings suggest that there is still more work to be done before travel companies can reap the rewards of a fully integrated digital strategy.

Lee McCabe, Global Head of Travel, Education and Consumer Services at Facebook, said: “Successful companies are investing in digital and adopting new technology and innovation faster than their competitors. Internally, these companies are altering their organizational structures to eliminate siloed departments and are making digital essential to all departments and teams. The successful players in the travel industry aren’t viewing ‘social media’ as a separate entity, but as a key asset to their business growth and success."

Adam Weissenberg, Deloitte Global Sector Leader for Travel, Hospitality & Leisure, said: “Travel companies that are not taking advantage of the business opportunities presented by digital platforms are potentially missing out on important sources of growth. With the right approach, digital can transform a travel company’s marketing efforts and deliver real ROI. However, effective strategies must be tied to business goals in order to begin to see real, tangible results.”

Key recommendations

Effective measurement – To fully maximize the opportunity presented by digital channels, companies must hold their digital activities to the same standards of measurable return that they apply to traditional marketing tools (i.e., television and print). Measuring the number of “likes” is not meaningful on its own unless it can be connected to a larger and measurable business goal. Digital media isn’t new anymore, and its reach and potential continues to evolve rapidly. The sooner companies can adapt to these new techniques and integrate them with their core business strategies, the quicker they can transform their digital outreach from an expense to a profitable investment.

Leverage digital channels to improve targeting abilities – Collecting information on consumers is only the first step. Brands need to effectively use data to target specific audiences; this is the catalyst that sets digital channels apart from traditional marketing methods. By targeting specific consumer cohorts, companies can be more efficient with their spending and dedicate more resources to consumers who are likely to generate revenue for the company.

Integrate digital channels into the broader business – Digital operations need to happen right alongside operational activities to be effective. An effective digital strategy cannot happen if digital marketing lives siloed on the organizational chart – and the optimal location for digital operations is unique to each company. A successful organization is one that allows digital channels to cut across and support all the relevant parts of the business.

Download the report at Deloitt (PDF 2.4 MB)