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Google and the potential of social media on tourism.
Wednesday, 13th March 2013
Source : Roland Wildberg ~ Exclusive from ITB Berlin 2013
Even at this year's ITB, Google and its products are all the rage, not only for social media in general, but for the travel industry, in particular.

Filip Grizelj, an online marketing specialist, examined articles produced within social media networks, and looked at their effectiveness as well as the resonance they produced among travel enthusiasts.

He found that online media was the number one source for travel information, today. Online posts and the resulting commentaries on people's walls as well as online travel-review sites, such as TripAdvisor, not only were a source of information, they actually influenced people on where and how to travel.

Philip Grizeij, online marketing specialist

Grizelj found that the hotel industry is not investing enough in their social media strategy, fast enough. And for those who have done so, he says that they have placed far too much emphasis on their Facebook pages and not enough on Google.

No 1 search engine for travel information is - YouTube!

During a brief ITB seminar, he told 4hoteliers that the number one search engine today is YouTube, a Google owned company followed by Google's search engines.

"It's not surprising why people are using YouTube. Today's messages need to be clear, concise compact. Images play a big role in that and that is where YouTube comes into play," Grizelj said advising hoteliers to consider image-based media as an equally important way to advertise.

Today, the Facebook model is leader in online social exchange. "Social media is the most effective way to get a message across to old and potentially new clients not paid advertisements, whether traditional or ad-word based. These traditionally based SEM advertisements reach less than 10% of potential travellers. SEO's, on the other hand, if managed well will lead to a supplier's desired goals," Grizelj said. "However, today there is hardly a business model which is independent from Google," he added noting that 81% of the travel industry's customers are reached via a Google product.

Facebook features cannot offer what Google does

Almost 3 billion searches are generated on Google on any given day - 4 billion on its YouTube channel. "Google constantly overhauls its entire system to meet the changing needs of its customer base - implementing its linking system to relevant options. So even sites such as YouTube are not only a platform for showing videos, it has become a source for diffusing messages. Facebook does not have this option, and unless it's planning something that we don't know about, then it may become a thing of the past, sooner than we think," Grizelj told 4Hoteliers.

"Google earns 98% of its revenue through online searches and I do not expect that they are going to give up their market anytime in the foreseeable future. But I warn everyone to be aware: Google is not your friend. They are out there to dominate market share and make money," Grizelj added.

Grizelj told hoteliers that their biggest weakness is not understanding the impact of the social media market, nor did they understand how the online search-processes, including the ranking systems worked. "But without social link building, the basis for the travel industry supplier's future is gone," he concluded.

This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.

Roland Wildberg is Travel Writer and Correspondent based in Berlin, Germany. He started as an Editor for the National daily 'Die Welt' (tourism section), later on switched to a freelanced career and nowadays mainly publishes on the Web. Observing the hospitality industry always has fascinated him as it looks like the perfect combination of sleeping and writing work-live-balance as its best.

Roland also heads the annual
4HoteliersITB Berlin news micro-site journalist and video/photo teams for the 5th consecutive years.

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