Facebook has undoubtedly changed the way we communicate with each other, but the world's largest social network has also changed the way we travel.
People today are more likely to feel that their dream trip is easily achievable, because when they see others travelling around the world they tend to picture themselves in the places they want to visit. Also, after someone announces a trip on a social network, discussions over the planned vacation begin with friends.
These discussions might lead to friends' recommendations of other destinations and venues. And when searching by keywords, like hotels in London, for instance, Facebook users can instantly learn which of their friends have visited hotels in the city, which one they liked the most and what they said about it. This is far easier than e-mailing friends for additional information about a destination or a place to stay. The bottom line is that, when it comes to travel, friends' recommendations are of great importance.
The influence of social media on travel decisions was illustrated by a study from UK-based flight comparison website Skyscanner.com, which found that, after seeing pictures of their friends' vacation, 52% of Facebook users were inspired to book a trip to that same destination. More than one in five travel agencies (22%) already generate revenue from their social media efforts and more than one in four (27%) are looking to do so over the next five years, the World Travel Market Industry Report states. By 2016, social media marketing is expected to be at the centre of attention as the number one way to generate bookings and revenue for half of the travel industry.
For users, Facebook is also valuable when looking for places to eat while on holiday as there are many check-ins and recommendation pages in the social network. And with the "search nearby" function, travellers are able to use their mobile device to find the nearest places in the local area.
Another illustration of how Facebook has changed the travel experience is that these days many people share photos of their trip in real time, uploading pictures to their Facebook account - unlike in the past, when friends had to wait for the traveller to come back before they saw the pictures.
Today's technology allows people to track where others have been via their Facebook timeline, where all the information is securely stored. How does this benefit travel firms? If a customer has a good experience they will tell their friends, and that recommendation could pay dividends.