New Survey Reveals How Travelers are Using Social Media Before and During Vacation
Fat Tire Tours today announced the findings of our worldwide consumer survey on social media usage and vacations, primarily surrounding social media preferences and travel habits.
We’re constantly looking to learn what impacts travelers’ decision-making process. Given the steady rate in which people are becoming more connected with social media (more than three billion people worldwide use social platforms each month), we knew it was time to ask travelers first-hand just how social media was influencing their travel habits and social media preferences. To do so, we conducted a survey (garnering more than 1,500 respondents), and are sharing our findings with you here:
Social media habits and preferences for planning vacations
One-third of travelers reported using social media frequently or very frequently to plan a vacation, mostly for travel tips and advice (57 percent), and looking at photos of places they plan to visit (56 percent).
We were interested in how people use social media when planning vacations, and found that intent does change before and during vacations. For example, the top Facebook activity while planning a vacation is food/dining. During vacation, however, it’s visiting landmarks. Similarly, for review sites like Yelp, the top planning activity is accommodations, but during vacation it’s making decisions on food and dining.
Here’s how we saw motivation change throughout the planning process, from before the trip even began to on-the-spot planning while already on vacation:
- Planning: 47 percent use to plan Food/Dining
- During: 42 percent use to make decisions during to visit buildings/architecture/monuments
- Planning: 38 percent use to plan visiting buildings/architecture/monuments
- During: 27 percent use to make decisions during to visit buildings/architecture/monuments
- Planning: 17 percent use to plan experiences like concerts and bike riding
- During: 13 percent use to make decisions for experiences like concerts and bike riding
- Planning: 17 percent use to plan visiting buildings/architecture/monuments
- During: 10 percent use to make decisions for experiences like concerts and bike riding
- Planning: 20 percent use to plan visiting buildings/architecture/monuments
- During: Tie – 10 percent use for visiting buildings/architecture/monuments & Food/dining
- Planning: TIE 15 percent use to plan visiting buildings/architecture/monuments and experiences like concerts & bike riding
- During: 12 percent visiting buildings/architecture/monuments
- Planning: 41 percent use to plan visiting buildings/architecture/monuments
- During: 30 percent visiting buildings/architecture/monuments
- Planning: Tie – 29 percent use to plan visits to buildings/architecture/monuments, experiences like concerts & bike riding, and food/dining
- During: 21 percent make decisions for experiences like concerts and bike riding
Yelp, Trip Advisor, or Review Sites
- Planning: 48 percent use to plan accommodations
- During: 43 percent Food/dining
Travelers aren’t using social channels as much to plan accommodations compared to other activities. Accomodations is actually planned the least for every social media platform other than review sites like Yelp/Trip Advisor (where it was the used the most) and Facebook, which was used to plan visiting nature the least.
Just how influential are social media influencers?
According to Social Media Today, influencer marketing delivers 11x higher ROI compared to traditional forms of digital marketing. And, that’s no surprise—21 percent of travelers said they use social media to plan vacations for influencer recommendations and reviews.
Millennials, arguably a generation most familiar with social media influencers, are just as likely as non-Millennials to say they relied on influencers. However, travelers who were heavily impacted by influencers were 300% more likely to be Millennials.
How travelers leverage social media while on vacation
During vacations, social media usage increases, with 26 percent of travelers saying they use social media more during vacations. To add to that, three-quarters of travelers use social media at least once per day while on vacation.
Here are the most popular platforms used during vacation, according to our respondents:
- Facebook (62 percent)
- Instagram (46 percent)
- YouTube (33 percent)
- Twitter (26 percent)
- Snapchat (24 percent)
- Reddit (18 percent)
- Pinterest (17 percent)
With 2.5 billion people using Facebook-owned apps, Facebook and Instagram are the top-two apps travelers favored while on vacation.
When it comes to loving an app during vacation, the top two results flipped – 33 percent of people loved using Instagram, followed by Facebook (30 percent) and YouTube (28 percent). On the flip side, people hate using Reddit (25 percent) and Pinterest (24.7 percent) while on vacation. Other than Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, all other platforms were hated or disliked more than loved.
The most popular activities on Facebook are updating statuses and uploading photos. The least popular activity was using Facebook Live, but 45 percent of travelers who use Facebook did use the feature at least once during vacation.
For Instagram, 43 percent of travelers posted photos as the most popular activity on the photo-sharing app. Posting to Instagram stories was the second-most popular, with 30 percent of Instagram travelers doing so daily. The least popular activity, similar to Facebook, was using Instagram Live. However, about half of Instagram travelers did use Instagram Live at least once during travels. After their vacation, about half of travelers followed a new destination-related profile on Instagram. Travelers also don’t live life unfiltered – more than half of travelers said they edit photos with a specific color theme or light editing and filters.
Newer technologies, including smart watches and voice technology, didn’t seem to resonate too well with travelers. Only 6.5 percent of social media users accessed platforms via their smartwatch during their vacation, and only 4 percent of social media users used voice technology during their vacation.
Lastly, we examined some popular #hashtags on social that travelers used while on vacation. Overwhelmingly, the top two were: #vacation and #travel.
Stay tuned for our next post, as we dive deep into more information about travel behavior throughout Paris, Munich, Berlin, London, and Barcelona.
The findings presented here are the result of a July 2018 study of 1,607 people worldwide who have traveled anywhere for leisure in the past 2 years. Only survey respondents who completed the survey in full were considered.