The influence of the social web on the travel industry is being felt by brands and travellers. Social travel sites are proliferating and connected travellers are showing unique usage traits.

Social travellers are more engaged into local cultures

The social web allows nearly any category to become more trusted and relevant, and this applies to the travel industry as well. Social networks have exerted their influence on travel startups and services to the point where people are travelling differently. According to new infrgraphics by the Social Times, the “social traveller” is more engaged with local culture than the average traveller, and has more access to resources, bargains and their smartphones. In 2011, $211.7 million was invested in Social Travel websites, and now folks can easily Like or Retweet their friends globetrotting activities. Trippy brings travel planning to the iPad after launching its web and mobile interface. Travel-specific meeting services are popping up, and Tripbnb.coml aunched the first social travel commodity website - it pairs lifestyle interests with SMB accomodation venues.

The social web allows for local deals and discovery

The growth in social and mobile activity for travellers is significant, but this trend has a more powerful impact on traveller behavior off-screen. Social travellers do not stay in a hotel, and are more likely to learn some of the local language. They eat the local cuisine more often than normal travellers. They connect more with the locals and get better hospitality deals. Renting an apartment through Wimdu is more social and has more amenities than a Lonely Planet-approved hotel. Accommodations and other factors contribute to social travelling being cheaper on average in cities all over the world.

Travellers are more active on social web and contributing to mobile growth

Not only have social travel sites become more plentiful, travel companies in general have become more social as well. While only 82 percent of this category had a Facebook account in 2011, according to the Social Times, this year they all have one. But Social Travel’s 103 percent revenue growth impacts business social presence and influences consumers as well. Most travellers use social media and upload photos on Facebook while on vacation, and 46 percent check in with Facebook or Foursquare. Mobile growth is also significant - in 2012, the number of users researching travel via mobile devices is expected to grow by 51 percent, while travel bookings made via mobile may triple by 2013.

By Ivory King