Reaping quantifiable rewards from the social web is proving as elusive for travel brands as it is for most other industry sectors. Time will tell if the investment in the social web is justified, and whether significant numbers of travellers will use social channels to complete their bookings.
This might be because they presume that the biggest users of the social web are Generations Y and Z, markets who don't have huge travel budgets. Previous generations, conventional wisdom goes, prefer more traditional recommendations from friends and family, or inspiration from a travel article.
Yes the under-30s are habitual social media users, argues bmibaby's Julian Carr, but it's becoming more mainstream for older age groups.
"With almost half of online travellers using social media when researching possible trips, social media is a key communications platform for bmibaby, both in marketing and in customer services."
Peter Duffy, marketing director for easyJet is of the same mind. He sees customers from all segments engaging with the airline through social channels from business, commuters, day trippers, families and backpackers.
The corporate travel industry isn't convinced. Business travel management firm Carlson Wagonlit Travel's CWT.L Andrew Winterton told Reuters that though social media is very helpful in information-gathering, dissemination and advising, they don't see it taking a huge role in booking.
"In order to fully exploit the opportunity of you have to have a bit of time on your hands!"
Get the full story at Reuters
Read also "Social media in travel by numbers" at Tnooz