Facebook: 'We Know What Destination People are Dreaming Of'.
Sunday, 23rd March 2014
Source : Roland Wildberg ~ Exclusive from ITB 2014
Facebook head of travel Lee McCabe gave an overview what his company could do for the tourism industry.

'Well, my spouse hates me sitting around all day looking on my smartphone, but that's just how everybody behaves', says Lee McCabe, Facebook Head of Travel – and examples the immense rise in importance mobile devices have gained recently for people gaterhing information, including travel information.

4Hoteliers Image LibraryAt ITB 2014, McCabe gave an insight about how serious the social media giant takes the tourism sector and where Facebook does recommend tour operators, hotels and carriers to advertise: on Facebook of course! „People wonder a lot about how social marketing is special – well, it is just marketing!" He recommended not to make a fuss about it.

'Five years ago we took notice how the behaviour changed and the usage of mobile devices for Facebook increased', McCabe pointed out. Everybody nowadays does own at least a smartphone. Parallely, the growth in computer speed and server capacities mean that no information is ever forgot – including information about fare prices, good or bad travel experiences, weather conditions and so on.

'From consumers we have transformed into super consumers.' Even during the booking process we can immediately ask a friend for online assistance or about the destination.

'Nowadays everybody is his or her own travel expert, and everybody is a travel writer as well.' Any impression, whether it comes across the mind or the lense, is almost real-time converted into social media post and spread over the web. 'Five years ago, this was absolutely impossible!' Facebook for instance in review matters is a powerful tourism media: The website currently is the biggest global image portal. The Facebook mobile growth actually does overrun other mobile applications.

In Berlin, McCabe stressed on the remarkable lasting incluence Facebook could have on the tourist's customer journey: 'People get inspired by their friends about a destination, do research, book their holidays and experience the destination themselves – all this with Facebook, because a smartphone is always with you.' According to German media, an amazing 42 percent of Facebook posts are related to tourism and travel.

'We note also that people change their status while travelling.' McCabe summarized that his company does have the critical mass of customers – currently 1,2 billion people worldwide – to become the major touchpoint for the industry. No wonder Facebook does try to get in talks with as many tour operators, carriers and hotels as possible.

A best practice example the Facebook head of travel mentioned at ITB 2014 is Lufthansa: The global carrier and theo social network do co-operate already, through a recent marketing campaign Lufthansa was able to increase the brand's favourability in 14 percent and to adress 16,3 million people. German rental car market leader Sixt according to McCabe did increase their sales through the Facebook app about 30 percent and revenues in 47 percent.

McCabe revealed another advantage: 'We recommend to market an app that downloads automatically after the consumer has clicked a campaign – apps do improve the customer retention in comparison to online bookings, because people will get used to the app and do not download others.' If the app has a good usability, this will last, McCabe said. „The challenge is to make the customer install your app." A both convenient and smooth method is to embed it into a Facebook newsfeed, he added.

Another benefit the industry get from Facebook is an optimised targeting: „Usually 38 percent targeting is possible, which leads to an immense waste coverage." With Facebook data mining, an astounding 89 percent targeting coverage – tailor-made. „We know what people are dreaming about at the moment, what they plan to do."

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 has always fascinated him as it looks like the perfect combination of sleeping and writing – work-live-balance at its best.

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