BTO Day2: Social Media is About Personal Experience
Day 2 at BTO – the new and emerging Web Marketing Conference for Hotels and the Travel Industry held in Florence, dug deep into the human relationshpis and bonds people build on Social networks.
As Prof. Dimitrios Buhalis pointed out, we are a people of a new wired world who enjoy keeping in touch with individuals we never met, but feel we’ve always known thanks to relationships established online in Social Networks, yet we often don’t know our next door neigbours.
These are the new and strange effects of the Web tools connecting people – before Social Media People would “get lost” on the Internet, now they “find themselves” on Social Networks.
This concept was reiterated on the panel low cost or no cost travel? where the concept of Social Trust emerged as the underlying force aggregating people by affinity in online groups where it is “only natural” to trust someone you never met, having common interests and views on life: the evolution of the networking concept spreads amongst everyday people, no longer a prerogative of the digitally literate, and native to the web since the very beginning in the 90s when interest groups were formed at the very first WWW conferences called BOFs (birds of a feather).
Social Travel is a natural consequence of this new and unexplored Social Media Networking activity – during the presentations a number of social travel websites were listed where people sharing affinities not only enjoy networking but create new opportunities also for travel:
The underlying legacy binding the offline and the online world in this new sociality are:
- new and unexplored opportunities never before available
- reassurance: we feel reassured when be belong to a Clique
- the “wisdom” of the network is there to help with (reliable) information when needed
In duscussing Social Travel the question:
“is this a trend directly related to the economic crisis or is there more to this form of travel?”
was raised and the general consensus was this is more than a temporary solution due to tough economic times, more a stable trend that will continue regardless of the crisis.
Communities offer participants the opportunity to become protagonists and distinguished members of the community.
A strong point was made on using all kinds of Social Media (including blogs too often referred to as outdated) to connect and offer real time support and solutions – a hotel can use twitter to keep in touch with Guests, a travel agent can follow Customers on Facebook during their vacation – what’s important is to focus on the 3 phases of travel:
- Preparation prior to departure
- Help and assistance during travels
- Telling the story, networking emotions, narrating to share their experience once the holiday is over