Almost 70% of travellers say their friends’ holiday photos make them want to visit the same destination

If you’re a parent with teenagers, chances are they will have spent a lot of the summer holidays poolside, Instagramming pics of their trip. Well, now a new survey by VisitBritain reveals that almost 70% of respondents who took part said that content posted online by their friends really does influence them to visit a (new) destination.

It’s well known that “friends and family” recommendations are powerful influencers, particularly when it comes to discovering new destinations. TripAdvisor remains hugely important, a bad review can sour things while a string of glowing reviews makes visitors to the site much more likely to book that particular resort or visit that part of the world.

Interestingly, India is the country where people are most influenced by friends’ travel photos (81%) while Korea and the US are high, too, at 76% and 68% respectively.

VisitBritain’s new research report, “The role of social media in the context of holidays” focused on holidaymakers in the US, Germany, India and South Korea and it found that a whopping 89%, almost 9/10 people, use social media during their trip.

Facebook turned out to be the main route overseas holidaymakers used when looking at visiting Britain for their next break, with 44% saying this was their main go-to social media channel.  Twitter was useful for suggestions and advice while away on hols, while Instagram – a growing social media platform – was the most visual way of sharing holiday experiences with others, although it was used less by those surveyed than, say Facebook.

Our very own tourist board, VisitBritain, is a leader in the digital space, having run a number of very successful campaigns including the one most of us will remember – Britain is GREAT, as well as the latest campaign aimed at Chinese visitors, tagged Culture is GREAT.  VisitBritain is asking Chinese visitors to share their best moments in the British Isles by uploading images of their holidays which VisitBritain shares with all of its own followers.

With 300k Twitter followers, 3 million Facebook fans and 510,000 Weibo followers, VisitBritain itself is now one of the key leaders in the global tourist industry.

Perhaps the most original campaign so far has been the GREAT China Naming campaign earlier this year when VisitBritain asked Chinese travellers to suggest new names for Britain’s landmarks. The initiative won three Cannes Lion d’Or Awards.
If you’re a photo sharer, VisitBritain has a few tips.  Don’t Photoshop your pics, keep them real and authentic and choose images that will spark imagination, convey a genuine experience of a place and a “real traveller’s perspective”…in other words, what it really feels and looks like when you’re “there”. So if you’re at a new timeshare resort and loving it, good photos and useful, relevant information could help others decide to book it themselves.

One of the key findings of the survey was that respondents from three of the countries who took part said that advice from “real” holiday makers who’d actually visited in the UK was a bit more useful in many cases than advice from experts, but Germany was the exception.  Germans said advice from “real travellers” and online experts was about equally good.

Respondents pointed out that access to WiFi as very important, therefore places offering free WiFi were more likely to be booked or chosen v. resorts that didn’t have it or offer it, free.

Meanwhile – no surprises here! – smartphones were the device most often used to share photos and news on holiday, although tablets and other devices were also used quite a bit.

Last but not least, it seems we’re reading more reviews than writing them.  76% of those surveyed said they read and took note of destination or hotel reviews, whereas under one-fifth said they’d ever written an actual review on a site.

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