A picture is worth a thousand words. This statement has never been more true to eager tourists like myself. As I was preparing for my two months in Europe, I spent a tragic amount of hours on Facebook and Instagram stalking friends who had just returned from their magical adventures abroad. My friends shared stunning photos of places I had only dreamt of seeing in my lifetime. I found myself reaching out to people who I did not even really know to get the name of a restaurant or a list of activities to do while I was visiting Europe. So as I was making my list of places I wanted to visit based off of other people’s social media posts, I caught myself thinking of the massive growth in the tourism industry since the invention of social media.
Social media has fundamentally changed every major market in the world. The tourism and hospitality industry has grown from a word of mouth industry to an industry reliant on tech savvy sharers on social media sites. More travelers plan their itineraries on reviews, photos, and posts shared online. Now, frequent travelers can get paid to travel and promote their journeys on their social media accounts by writing honest reviews which hospitality companies can recycle on other social media platforms.
Popular travel destinations all over the world have seen a jump in tourists due to excellent social media profiles. For many, Ireland has been a popular tourist destination. In the first six months of 2017, Ireland had a growth of 20.6% of tourists from Australia and 22.1% more visitors from Spain. On Facebook, Tourism Ireland is the fourth most popular tourism board with more than 3.9 million followers. Ireland is picturesque as it is and sites like Instagram and Facebook are only helping the country’s economy grow exponentially.
Since I have been studying abroad in the Czech Republic and traveling to various locations all over Europe on the weekends, I find myself tagging my location and certain businesses on Instagram to not only publicize these places but also act as a possible source of reference for anyone coming to Prague. Over the past eight weeks, I have had close friends and not so close friends contact me for hostels, deals, and things to do in all the places I have been to based on my activity on social media.
According to Entrepreneur.com, 89% of millennials plan travel activities based on the content posted by their peers online. People look to people they trust rather than travel agents or certain companies’ websites for the best reviews. Social media has facilitated the sharing process as well. Over 97% of millennials share photos and videos of their travels online. Because of this trend, hotels, restaurants, and resorts have turned to social media for brand marketing. If people tag a location or use a hashtag relating to a place they have visited, that business has not only required an adoring fan but also free advertising.