Facebook the new ‘window to the web’, says Firebrand

Facebook is the social media channel travel companies should be focussing on, according to Graham Lee, chief executive of specialist agency Firebrand.

Lee told senior travel industry execs at a conference on London this week: “Facebook currently offers the greatest opportunities for travel companies.”

He explained that Facebook was emerging “as the window to the web, rather than Google” referring to last week’s Hitwise UK stats which said that social media networks drove more web traffic in May than search engines.

“Companies are using Facebook as a platform rather than building their own,” he went on. “Display adverts are now directing people to the brands’ Facebook page rather than its web site.”

Travel companies were told that they were already leading the way in the UK, in terms of social media  adoption. “The biggest appetite for social media comes from the travel sector, and in some pockets travel is the most advanced.”

Senior UK travel execs on a separate panel were asked about their companies’ use of social media.

Paul Evans, chief executive of Low Cost Travel Group, said that his business had noted “the changing dynamics of Facebook as the entry point to the web”, while Monarch Airlines’ managing director Tim Jeans said that the business now had dedicated resources specifically for the channels.

Nick Longman, TUI UK & Ireland distribution director hinted that “mobile, going forward, will become increasingly important for the research and booking travel as the quality of handsets continues to improve”.

And Carol Marlow, managing director of P&O Cruises, acknowledged that while very little cruise business is transacted online, the cruising community is vey active in social networks, referring to brands such as cruise.co.uk and Cruise Critic.

Another session at the WTM Vision conference was devoted to new research from Euromonitor International. Its head of travel and tourism Caroline Bremner said that by 2014, 25% of all travel sales globally will be transacted online.

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