Travel and shopping are probably two of the most social activities we do with friends and loved ones. The hyper-interactive travel consumer is a new breed of engaged and informed traveler. They talk about travel before they travel, while they travel, and after they travel. With Facebook Open Graph and Facebook commerce, the travel industry has tremendous opportunities to market to travelers across the social curve.
More than 250 million photos are uploaded daily on Facebook and many travel-related photos are part of this activity. With the new Facebook Timeline, travelers will likely be sharing their experiences, such as the places they have been and the people they have traveled with, with their friends more often. The Timeline could become a scrapbook of your friends’ travel experiences, allowing you to easily see where your friends have been traveling and may very well lead you to your next journey.
Many travel sites have started to integrate Facebook Connect into their web experience; the most notable is perhaps TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor is what Facebook calls a “new instant personalization partner,” as the site becomes customized for you by using your public information and list of friends from Facebook for more curated and personalized information. When you visit TripAdvisor using Facebook Connect, the site acts like a personalized travel planner, complete with friends’ reviews and a map showing places friends have visited. TripAdvisor reports that Facebook users are twice as likely to share their experiences.
Airbnb is another great example of Facebook Open Graph integration that personalizes the booking experience. Users can see their friends’ ratings of B&B’s and B&B hosts around the world. Airbnb has found that 85 percent of users are more likely to book when they check out a recommendation via a friend on Facebook. A user can also search and book from within the Airbnb Facebook page.
Another great travel industry opportunity is the Facebook Pages Locations tab. Through the Locations tab, a hotel chain could, for example, register every single brick-and-mortar location around the world. This would enable Facebook users to search within a hotel’s Facebook pages for other properties in the chain. Though I couldn’t find a travel example, Starbucks’ Facebook page demonstrates how using the Location tab enables its Facebook users to easily find a location for their next cup of Starbucks coffee.
Commerce and travel on the Facebook platform are closely linked with a lot of experimentation going on within the tourism industry. Users can book a flight on Delta Air Lines or Malaysia Airlines Facebook pages and book a hotel room on several hotel Facebook pages including with the Arizona Grand Resort page. Expedia, through its partnership with Groupon, launched a Facebook app for Groupon Getaways referred to as the Travel Wish List. Facebook users on the Expedia Facebook page can find and book deals with Groupon Getaways.
Several travel brands have launched applications that help with the trip planning process with friends and family inside Facebook. On the Walt Disney World Facebook page, users can plan their vacation and ask questions in the Disney’s Vacation Community, and they can also share their memories after the trip with the Disney memory app. Delta Air Lines recently launched a group-travel app to help people plan, promote, and share travel plans within Facebook called Away We Go.
In one week I head out to Vegas to speak at HEDNA (a trade association formed by hoteliers) on opportunities for the travel industry with the Facebook Open Graph platform. The opportunity to build great travel brand experiences with purpose is now: the speed of change is only increasing and there are 800+ million people on the Facebook platform actively waiting to be engaged and buy from you.