When looking at engagement arenas, a differentiation can be made between the physical arena, the digital arena and the social arena. Regarding the social arena, this consists of characteristics respecting social media. In this blog, a statement regarding the social (media) arena will be discussed. The statement is as follows: ‘’online travel agencies cannot exist without social media’’.
As mentioned multiple times before, due to the growth in online participation, people are spending a lot of time online. On average, in 2017, the millennial generation spent approximately 250 minutes (4 hours and 10 minutes) online every day (Statista, 2018). Furthermore, regarding Statista and Business Insider, as can be seen in the following figure, in this case, Americans, are spending the majority of their online time at social networks (GfK, IAB, 2014). This is why this statement has been created, since online travel agencies are more popular than the offline versions, and people are spending so much time on social media, the thought rose if online travel agencies could actually exist without the use of social media.
First of all, via social media, it is much easier to interact with your customer base as a travel agent. Looking again at for instance the Facebook pages of Expedia and Booking.com, it is mentioned that if you want to ask them something via Facebook chat, they will respond almost immediately, with the maximum of one day. Chatting with an employee of the travel agency is very easy and accessible, which is an advantage if travel agencies are making use of social media. Furthermore, advertising via social media is very cost-effective. You can post advertisements on your channels without having to implement and pay money for Google Analytics for example. Also, these advertisements on social media could be shared by people who are interested, which will create more awareness which is not possible via other manners of advertising.
Regarding Valerie Hoyoak, physical travel agents have become obsolete (Hoyoak, V., 2017). This is why the physical travel agents who are still existing and performing well are also advised to make use of social media. Since physical travel agents are likely a more ‘’personal’’ option of booking a trip, this framework can be extended and further elaborated on by means of social media, in order to keep the offices and what they stand for ‘’alive’’. If this is being done correctly, physical travel agents have more chances to succeed (Parsons, H., 2017). If physical travel agents won’t make use of social media, there is a chance that they will not be able to keep up with the online travel agents whom will in this case probably take over the market.
It can be said that making use of social media is not specifically ‘’necessary’’. If a specific target group, elderly for instance, are active online, but are not making use of social media, they can still book at an online travel agent. Also, when wanting to implement an extensive social media strategy, this needs to be calculated into the working hours for one or more employees. This will be added to the activities that they already have to do, which will increase their workload.
In conclusion, when looking at online travel agencies, it could be a wise decision to make use of social media, since it simplifies communication between the company and its customer base, and it can be an effective way of advertising. However, customers who are active online but not on social media can also still access and book at the travel agent even when they are not making use of social media, and when wanting to implement an effective social media strategy, this means that more work will be added to one or more employees, since extra time needs to be made available in order to ensure a successful outcome. So, making use of social media as a travel agent is a smart thing to do, but it does not mean that travel agents cannot ‘’exist’’ without social media, this is too much of a radical thought. Regarding physical travel agents, it is wise for them to make use of social media, in order to keep playing a significant role in the industry.
Hoyoak, V. (2017, August 28). 6 reasons why the travel agency has become obsolete. Retrieved from Gooster: https://gooster.net/2017/08/28/why-travel-agencies-are-obsolete/
Parsons, H. (2017). Does social media influence an individual’s decision to visit tourist destinations? Using a case study of Instagram. Cardiff: Cardiff Metropolitan University.
Statista. (2018). Average daily time spent online by teenage and Millennial internet users worldwide as of 2nd quarter 2017, by device (in minutes). Retrieved from Statista: https://www.statista.com/statistics/736727/worldwide-teen-average-online-time-devices/
Yarow, J. (2014, March 21). Here’s What People Do On The Internet All Day. Retrieved from Business Insider: https://www.businessinsider.com/heres-what-people-do-on-the-internet-all-day-2014-5?international=true&r=US&IR=T