Savvy travel-marketing people already know that popular social-networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, LinkedIn and others are a valuable extension of any major marketing program.

As the social-networking phenomenon grows and evolves, travel agencies, home-based agents, suppliers and destination marketers who sit on the sidelines may risk missing significant opportunities to engage existing customers, recruit new ones, bolster their brands, undertake market research and, yes, drive bookings.

"We don't have a choice but to participate in these spaces," said Kristen Celko, vice president of marketing and e-commerce for STA Travel, a student and young adult travel operation based in Lewisville, Texas.

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