How Social Media Still Plays a Big Role in Travel

It’s no surprise that social media plays a role in how Americans travel. To get a better look at how these online presences influence decision-making and buying preferences, online travel agency commissioned a survey of 2,000 Americans and found that, while social media plays a big role for all travelers, the use varies by generation.

In its research, found that Facebook and YouTube are the most used social media platforms while Pinterest and TikTok are used the least—although usage of each is strongly driven by age. To that point, Facebook—which has been around longer than most other social media platforms—continues to effectively engage all audiences, reaching almost half of Gen Z and more than 70 percent of older groups. YouTube, on the other hand, has roughly the opposite composition. It is used by two-thirds of Gen Z, nearly as many Millennials and is used by just four in 10 Baby Boomers.

This data can be insightful into how you build your online presence as a travel advisor. Depending on which demographic your clients typically fall into (or, perhaps the demographic you are trying to expand into), make sure most of your efforts are in building your social media page on the respective platform that is most used by that age group.

Social media also plays an important role in other aspects surrounding travel, including inspiration. Of those surveyed, 68 percent said they share photos of their trips on social media, with 53 percent aiming to inspire others through their posts.

For younger generations, specifically Gen Z and Millennials, social media is a key element in their travel decision-making process. This is evidenced by 81 percent of Gen Z and 75 percent of Millennials affirming they consider social media when choosing a travel destination. In contrast, for older generations, such as Gen X and Baby Boomers, social media isn’t as critical: 50 percent of the former and 32 percent of the latter said its significance for their travel planning.

When asked about how the photos they will be able to post on social media impact their choices, Gen Z felt the strongest of all group. Just over half (52 percent) of Gen Z indicated that the ability to post photos on social media played a role in selecting their vacation destination. Millennials followed closely at 48 percent, but Gen X and Baby Boomers trailed significantly at 33 and 16 percent, respectively.

That all said, despite the effects of social media, personal networks have a more substantial impact on travel decisions than social media. To that point, 65 percent of Americans cited friends and family as the key influencers in choosing travel destinations. This preference extends to selecting vacation activities, with 63 percent looking to their close contacts as their primary source for recommendations. Travel blogs and Instagram also serve as important resources, ranking in second and third place respectively. This is good news for advisors, as, if you can become a trusted resource for your clients, they will value your insight over what they see online.


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