Facebook updates while you were on holiday used to be met with comments of disdain or disbelief that you could visit another country and be bored, or pretentious, enough to tell everyone what you were up to. But now the website, together with Twitter, FourSquare and the like, have become so essential that it has become the main form of communication whilst travelling, according to a survey commissioned by Sheraton Hotels & Resorts. The ability to share news and photos to several people at once has surpassed the traditional hotel room call, made easier with the constant internet access on our mobile phones. According to the survey, which interviewed 1,000 people, 65 percent of Brits use social media to stay in touch with friends and family while travelling and 36 percent prefer to break news online than over the phone. Meanwhile, one fifth of the UK will check sites multiple times each hour (including while travelling) and three quarters of Brits are now expected to use social media sites such as TripAdvisor to make their travel plans.
What it means for your business
Social media can be just as important for connecting with business partners as your customers. The air traffic disruption caused by last month’s snowfall and onboard updates from Carnival Splendour when it suffered a power failure proved how companies could reach thousands with official information in one hit. But despite its informalities and pitfalls, social media continues to host grounds to network and 56 percent of those surveyed agreed that having an active online presence was important. A further 55 percent used their profiles to meet new business contacts and maintain other relationships. It also seems to help form opinion, as 52 percent of people will check their business contact’s social networking before a meeting. Although you may need to take what you read with a pinch of salt, as 60 percent of Brits are likely to lie in postings.
What this means for your customers
Ready available access to WiFi or a computer is often ranked as one of the top five amenities required by travellers, particularly in the business sector. This should be taken into consideration when choosing a hotel for clients, as 78 percent of Brits find that social media use helps them meet people when travelling for work. Indeed Sheraton had admitted that it underestimated the importance of services such as its Link@Sheraton lounges. “Along with the bigger shift toward social media from other forms of communication, what the survey drove home for us was that an experience like Link@Sheraton isn’t a luxury for guests, but a necessity,” explained Hoyt Harper, senior vice president and global brand leader for Sheraton Hotels & Resorts. “They expect total connectivity.” More than 50 percent of the chain’s guests used the lounge during their stay, with 75 percent of users checking Facebook.