Travel trust: friends and family trounce Facebook for holiday recommendations

Travel endorsements on social media lag significantly behind recommendations from friends, family, and traditional media - but the sheer reach of social means it still plays a huge part.

That is according to research by customer experience agency Network Research, which surveyed 600 UK adults about holidays and leisure attractions.

The research shows that just 23 per cent of respondents would consult Facebook for holiday recommendations, while 11 per cent would seek advice from Twitter. This figure drops to nine per cent among Instagram users.

Of those who would consult Facebook, 32 per cent said they would trust the information they gathered, while just under one fifth of Twitter users and 20 per cent of Instagram users said they would.

Among those aged 18-35, however, trust in social media was higher, with 43 per cent trusting information on Facebook, 31 per cent on Twitter, and 38 per cent on Instagram.

Social lags behind family and friends

In contrast, 80 per cent of all respondents said they would trust recommendations from friends and family, while 60 per cent said they trusted review sites such as TripAdvisor.

Forty per cent of those surveyed were also found to trust newspaper articles, which appears to suggest PR activities by travel companies has a positive influence on holiday-goers.

Despite this, the research adds: "While social media may lack the trusted influence of personal recommendations, its sheer presence may compensate simply through reach."

Joy Doyle, UK corporate spokesperson and senior media relations manager at TUI Group, owner of Thomson Holidays, said: "Holidaymakers rely on a huge mix of channels and touchpoints to choose their next holiday, so a balance of activity is important.

"Some of our research suggests people refer to over 20 different sources before making a decision. Online recommendations are key in the process, whether that’s from an influencer or a member of the public. We focus of course on ensuring our customers around the world have the best possible holiday so they feel inspired to make a good online recommendation. Most people research online before booking and this trend will continue."

Beware of bad review

Elsewhere in the study, travel and tourism brands are advised to tread carefully when handling bad reviews.

Over half of respondents said they would be less likely to consider visiting a destination or leisure attraction if a company failed to respond to a bad review or refused to acknowledge claims made in the post.

Conversely, if a brand apologises, almost three in five said they were more likely to consider using the company.

Network Research said the research points to "massive opportunities for leisure and tourism brands, big and small, to engage with customers more, and get them talking about their experiences".

The agency said: "It’s clear that recommendations and reviews from personal contacts trump many other influences, so those companies that deliver great experiences and encourage customers talk about them, in whatever forum, will be more likely to succeed."

Read next: Edelman Trust Barometer reveals 'unprecedented crisis of trust' in UK and beyond

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