The travel industry provides a clear example of changes in consumer behaviour driven by social media. Millions of ordinary users take an active part in determining what they would like to see, like, follow, receive, consume and communicate with. Even though a range of social media marketing tactics and strategies has been developed for the travel industry over the years, they cannot guarantee that actual users will be responsive to sales funnels designed by travel companies. There is a need for a deeper understanding of the travel consumer journey on social media.
The results of the study by Tamara Zyrianova I have been involved in as an academic supervisor, has shown that Russian millennial travelers tend to follow travel bloggers on Instagram rather than travel companies. Bloggers have been chosen as the preferred source of information about future travel plans. Travel bloggers’ posts are perceived to be more personal and equal to friends’ recommendations.
Research has identified two primary motives for travel content consumption on Instagram: 1) desire for travel inspirations and 2) getting genuine information about travel destinations based on other consumers’ experiences. It is important to mention that Russian millennial travelers view Instagram as a departure point for trip planning. The data analysis has shown that research participants use Instagram as a search tool: not only do they look for places to visit, but also “where to eat and to shop”.
However, Russian millennial travelers do not solely rely on Instagram, they browse travel websites and other social media platforms to get maximum information about places of interest before they make a final decision. Interestingly enough, research participants pointed out that it is a very rare case when they remember Instagram accounts where inspiring travel contents were found, excluding, of course, their favorite bloggers. This is one of the challenges travel companies are being confronted with.
Hopefully, research findings will encourage travel companies to reconsider their current social media marketing approaches and change perceptions about their social media audience. For guest speaking and workshops please contact me directly.