by Greg Dickinson, The Telegraph, May 10, 2018
Holidays have always been at the heart of social media. We shout about them on Instagram with saturated snaps of our sausage legs and symmetrical plates of food. We organise holidays via messaging platforms like WhatsApp, and create trip photo albums on Facebook.
But social media platforms have quietly infiltrated another side of holidays: how we book them.
This week Instagram unveiled a new action button, making it easier for its 800 million users to book tickets and holidays through the app.
Love it or hate it, the photo-sharing app has become a primary source of travel inspiration (or #travelinspo, in Instagram parlance), and this move is set to close the gap between simply ‘liking’ a photo and actually transporting the user to the destination.
The Facebook-owned company has partnered with a number of businesses, including Eventbrite, OpenTable, SevenRooms and Yelp Reservations, with more set to join the party.
Business accounts will be able to add an action button (either Reserve, Get Tickets, Start Order, or Book) to their profile page, taking users one tap away from a booking page without leaving the platform.
Speaking of the move, Instagram said in a statement: “As businesses increasingly view Instagram as a place where business gets done, we're committed to making it easier for them to manage their presence on the platform.
“Whether through the recent expansion of shopping on Instagram, introduction of action buttons or updates to Instagram Direct, business have more opportunities to connect and communicate with their customers.”
Travel companies make up some of the most popular pages on Instagram. Booking.com have 553,000 followers while TripAdvisor have 1.4 million followers - and their posts are powerful currency. Images of destinations, hotels or restaurants frequently receive tens of thousands of likes.
While the action button is in its early days, users can see it in action on pages such as HomeState, a restaurant in Texas that now has a ‘Start Order’ button. The scope for hotels, flight companies and tour operators to add such buttons to their pages will no down expedite the travel-booking process in the future.
But Instagram isn’t the only social media app making life easier for tech-savvy people with itchy feet.
Holiday companies are taking to Whatsapp to share deals and “error fares” with subscribers. HolidayPirates, for example, has 800,000 subscribers - a number that increased from 420,000 the previous year.
In one recent ‘Deal of the Day’ post offering return flights from the UK to Iceland for £39, some 39 per cent of subscribers clicked through to purchase - showing that the appetite for booking through social media apps is getting stronger.