How do social media influence the consumers’ hotel decision journey?

Hotel-related decision-making has fundamentally changed. In the ‘age of social media’ we are no longer informed by brochures and travel agencies, because Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor transformed the consumers’ hotel decision journey by influencing the way consumers search, decide and book hotels.

But how exactly do social media influence the way consumers search, evaluate and select a hotel?

Social media replaced traditional sources of information

Before the excessive use of social media, consumers had limited resources to collect information on services and products. Potential travellers mostly searched information from “official sources”, such as travel agencies. They called various hotels to get details or made hotel reservations over the phone, such as visited hotel websites, which were used then and still continue to represent an important source for hotel information.

Beyond their significant role in people’s daily life and social contexts, social media have become important tools in the tourism industry. Consumers use social media for sharing their travel-related experiences, engaging with others, connecting with people from different destinations and buying travel-related products and services. The Web 2.0 has transformed how tourists select and book their travel services online.

Using social media for planning, informing & making decisions

Social media unfold their most important role in the pre-travel stage. TripAdvisor, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, Instagram – these are the frequently used social media in tourism and hospitality for travel planning, information search and decision-making. Other travelers’ contents on these social media platforms can shape and redirect the choice and decision of a tourist.

The Decision Making Process (DMP): A social media-facilitated hotel model for the hotel search process

While we all know that social media influence our decision behaviour, it is less clear how this exactly happens and  why tourist use social media in travel related decision making.

That’s why this study had the aim to examine users’ social media-facilitated hotel decision making to understand the nuances of the hotel search process.

The findings reveal the advantages and disadvantages, the level of trustworthiness of social media in hotel information search and their influence on the overall hotel DMP.

Social media as the main channel for searching and making choices

TripAdvisor represents the most significant channel, followed by Facebook, and Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.

Social media constitute the primary channel for information search, while this may be used in addition to search engines, visits to official hotel webpages and use of booking sites, such as Booking.com, to find information and make decisions before booking a hotel.

We can all relate to the following statements:

‘I write on Google the name of the hotel, to find the official hotel website. Then I search on social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram about what people write.’

‘I am checking on Booking.com the prices and make a shortlist of hotels. Then I compare them on TripAdvisor.’

With the help of social and mobile platforms consumers make more dynamic decisions, as our hotel decision making process models reveals. In addition, it shows that decision-making is no longer exclusive to the pre-trip stage. Consumers, tourists and travellers use social media dynamically once they are at the destination where lots of on-site decisions are made with the help of social media on the go.


If you want to find out more about how vacation decisions and choices are influenced and shaped by social media, you can download and read the article at following links:

Research Gate
Academia

You can read the article in the ‘Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology‘ too:

Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology

 

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