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MMGY Global provides expert insights on booking holidays through Social Media

KANSAS CITY, MO – Last week Instagram unveiled a new action button, making it easier for its 800 million users to book tickets and holidays through the app. More specifically, business accounts will be able to add an action button (Reserve, Get Tickets, Start Order, or Book) to their profile page, taking users only one tap away from a booking page without leaving the platform.

“As more people continue to interact with businesses on Instagram and take action when inspiration strikes, we’re making it easier to turn that discovery into action,” reads Instagram’s official announcement.

MMGY Global’s Position
As the largest travel market research firm, MMGY Global provides below the most recent insights and the expert commentary of MMGY Global’s vice president of social media, Shea Carter on this new initiative and the role of social media in today’s travel industry:

“This Instagram initiative is an attempt to strengthen the influence of social media on the later stages of vacation planning, as social is currently more of a top-of-funnel influencer. The action button will allow them to compete more efficiently with Google. However, the most promising opportunity for these action buttons is in collaboration with social media influencers”, explains MMGY Global’s vice president of social media, Shea Carter.

According to MMGY Global’s Portrait of American Travelers 2018-19, 70% of American travelers typically are on social media at least once a day, spending an average of 82 minutes a day on social media. An even more impressive 83% of Millennial travelers typically access social media at least once a day and spend an average of 113 minutes in a day on social media.

“Currently, almost half of travelers who typically use social media daily – 46% – are active on Instagram”, confirms Carter. “The percentage of travelers on Instagram has grown every year and is up over 350 percent since 2013”, she adds..

Active Social Media Accounts*

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

Instagram

13%

19%

26%

36%

39%

46%abcde

a Significantly higher than travelers in 2013.
b Significantly higher than travelers in 2014.
c Significantly higher than travelers in 2015.
d Significantly higher than travelers in 2016.
e Significantly higher than travelers in 2017.

Millennial adaption is even higher – 60% of Millennial travelers using social media are now active on Instagram, an increase of 375 points since 2013. .

Active Social Media Accounts*

Millennial 2013

Millennial 2014

Millennial 2015

Millennial 2016

Millennial 2017

Millennial 2018

Instagram

16%

26%

38%

54%

59%

60%abcd

a Significantly higher than Millennial travelers in 2013.
b Significantly higher than Millennial travelers in 2014.
c Significantly higher than Millennial travelers in 2015.
d Significantly higher than Millennial travelers in 2016.

Our research shows that 55% of all travelers active on Instagram – and 66% of Millennials on Instagram – find the platform important in terms of their personal use and interactions with it. Instagram is a still-growing, influential platform among travelers.

However, Google is still the top travel website – 41% of all travelers (and 49% of Millennial travelers) regularly visit Google to obtain travel prices and information. Not only do more travelers consider search engine results than social media posts from travel marketers, throughout the vacation planning cycle, search engine results hold up more during the later stages of vacation planning.

Social media posts from destinations/travel service providers considered during:

  • deas & inspiration stage of vacation planning – considered by 18% of all travelers (21% of Millennial travelers)
  • Seeking advice & ratings – 11% (15% of Millennial travelers)
  • Comparing prices & features – 8% (11% of Millennial travelers)
  • Making reservations – 5% (8% of Millennial travelers)

Search engine results considered during:

  • Ideas & inspiration stage of vacation planning – considered by 33% of all travelers (32% of Millennial travelers)
  • Seeking advice & ratings – 31% (28% of Millennial travelers)
  • Comparing prices & features – 45% (43% of Millennial travelers)
  • Making reservations – 25% (24% of Millennial travelers)

In fact, only 7% of all travelers (and 12% of Millennial travelers) have made a travel service provider decision based primarily on what they’ve seen on social media.

As evidenced in the Instagram official statement, the platform is “making it easier to turn that discovery into action.” Removing inconveniences or barriers to purchase is essential to online bookings on any platform. 80% of all travelers (and 78% of Millennial travelers) find an easy-to-use booking feature influential when booking online.

However, a better opportunity might be partnering with social media influencers. While only 10% of travelers follow at least one travel service provider on social media, 24% follow at least one influencer/celebrity. The gap is even greater among Millennial travelers. While 17% of Millennial travelers follow at least one travel service provider on social media, 41% follow at least one influencer/celebrity. While travel service providers should absolutely implement the new action button, layering in Instagram advertising from contracted social media influencers acting as advocates on behalf of the brand will drive even more revenue opportunity. To take this even further, an action button assigned to the profiles of influencers as brand ambassadors could make even more impact.

Influencers clearly have a presence in more social media feeds than travel service providers do. Yet only 5% of travelers (and 11% of Millennial travelers) made at least one travel purchase based at least partially on posts by social media influencers/celebrities. There is a significant opportunity to increase conversion of the travel services influencers are promoting by removing obstacles through action buttons put on the influencers’ profiles.

Marketers are investing more in influencer marketing than ever before, yet demonstrating true ROI for these programs can be challenging. In 2017, Instagram added shoppable posts for retailers, which influencers have also been able to adopt as part of their branded partnerships. The addition of the action button for travel brands is the next evolution.

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