In contrast, when it comes to social networking sites, like Facebook and MySpace, there is a definite discrepancy in the age of regular users. EyeforTravel found that 70% of the 18-34 age group have used social networking sites in the last 30 days, compared to only with 35% of 35-49 year olds and 12% of 50-64 year olds.

So why do the over 35?s feel more comfortable reading user reviews over participating social networks? Firstly, travel-specific user-generated content sites, like TripAdvisor, are easy to use and very accessible. The search functions are clear and quickly give people access to vast amounts of specific, relevant content. This is not the case for social networks.

Secondly, travel-specific UGC sites rarely require people to log-on or leave personal details, something which older people may see as an obstacle. Reading user-generated content is more passive and less personally intrusive compared to actively participating in online social networks.

Lastly, compared to social networks, the benefits of UGC sites are obvious. For the over 35 age group, who are reading online hotel reviews, they can immediately see the opportunity to save money, avoid making bad decisions and get demographically suitable advice. The benefits of social networking sites on the other hand, are not so clear. The over 35 year age group tends to have more money to spend so it makes sense for them read customer feedback before making large purchases, such as travel.

On the other hand, there is a distinct portion of over 35?s who are perfectly poised to take advantage of the social networking phenomena; The Business Traveler. This group tends to have greater connectivity and has access to state-of-art handsets and laptops. Plus, they tend to spend more of their time online. They are also more likely to accept impartial advice from fellow business travelers with the same requirements. After all, you don?t need to be someone?s ?friend? to get advice on traversing Chicago O?Hare on a Friday night.

There is great potential for the business traveler to use social media to increase efficiency, access business-specific information, such as suitable restaurants for clients, and get updates on delays and adverse weather conditions. Social networking sites TripIt and LinkedIn have recently made moves to exploit this opportunity. The TripIt application on LinkedIn allows users to notify potential clients of upcoming trips.

?TripIt was selected by LinkedIn as their travel application precisely because an older more professional audience is using social networking tools like LinkedIn and TripIt. The focus of these second-generation tools is on providing social utility and mobile convenience that provide information when and where people need it," commented Gregg Brockway, TripIt Co-founder. Gregg Brockway and LinkedIn?s Lucian Beebe will be speaking about how business travelers can productively use social travel services at work at EyeforTravel?s Social Media Strategies for Travel Conference on March 10-11 in San Francisco. They will explain which types of content, advertising and applications appeal to, and directly benefit, the business traveler.

Related Link: EyeforTravel?s Social Media Strategies for Travel Conference