We’ve all suffered from social media-fuelled holiday envy; scrolling through the pictures of our friends chilling by their hillside villas or tucking into a plate of tapas with a cold beer. Or worse still, those smug travel influencers posing by the Hanging Gardens of Bali infinity pool or sitting atop the now-famous cliff of Trolltunga. Let’s face it, on a rainy Monday morning at your desk, these pictures can be hard to take in.
But, putting that green-eyed monster aside for a moment, more and more of us are clueing into the fact that social media can actually enhance our own holiday experiences. A recent survey by Villa Plus revealed that over one in five Brits are shunning the traditional brochures and guidebooks and turning to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for holiday inspiration. After all, they offer millions of travel photographs to ogle over at the scroll of a thumb. The survey also revealed that a fifth of 25-34-year-olds choose their holidays based on the destination’s “Instagrammability”. And how better to do that than by checking out the amazing pictures of those who have gone before?
The big social media companies are now moving to capitalise on this trend. After all, once you’ve seen the type of holiday you like, what could be more convenient than being able to book it then and there, direct from a photograph?
Facebook’s ‘Book Now’ function means you can book your accommodation or travel direct from the company’s pages on the platform, while Instagram launched their own ‘action buttons’ last year. No wonder over one in ten Brits booked their last holiday through social media.
If you’re not one of the above yet, then here are seven reasons why you should be getting on board with the social media holiday trend..
It’s your personal travel agent
Advice and recommendations from people who’ve actually been there - all at the tip of your finger. Whether it’s your friends’ holiday snaps, or the glossy pictures of travel bloggers, you can see more and delve deeper without leaving your sofa. If you’re looking for inspiration on Insta, try searching with the simple #travel or #holiday hashtags, or you can search for a specific location or area, like #southeastasiatrip, for example.
Real feedback from real people
Not only can you see where you want to go, you can see what people think about it. Underneath the influencers’ hashtags, you’ll find the comments of people who’ve been there, most likely adding their own experiences and advice.
It makes the experience easier
Travel companies are racing to make social media booking easy for you. From flights and accommodation to day trips and activities, you can book the whole holiday from your mobile.
Take EasyJet - their Look&Book feature allows you to upload a screenshot of any location you’ve seen on social media and then they will tell you which of their flights will get you there!
It shows an authentic travel experience
The real experiences of real people can often show you what the travel brochures can’t. Forget the same old tourist traps and landmarks, your friends and family might have posted about an amazing restaurant that they found down a side street, or a secluded cove on a kayaking trip.
The authentic experience is what many of us seek on our holidays - something that the glossy and airbrushed pictures in a travel brochure can’t show.
You’ll be first in the know about deals
Following airlines and tourist boards on social media is a shrewd move as you’ll be first to know of any offers and sales. Local tourist boards can point you in the direction of any excursions or restaurants and you can book everything from there. You can also connect with travel agencies and tourism boards on Facebook and Instagram. Just make sure you check that they are verified accounts.
Enhanced customer service
The beauty of booking through social media is that when you have a query, companies have to be on it! No waiting for them to reply to an email or being put on hold through a helpline. Tweeting or contacting them through their social media pages means that they’re more likely to respond promptly and satisfactorily to your request - because the social media world is watching and their online brand depends on it.
You can take it with you
The beauty of your travelling travel agent – AKA your mobile – is that you can take it with you on holiday. The local scene will be instantly reflected in your social media feed meaning you can find out about the best restaurants, excursions and cultural events once you’re there. And obviously, book them straight on your mobile, too.
With all these advantages, why wouldn’t you book your next holiday through social media? Wherever you decide to go, don’t forget to post about it. Your trip could be the inspiration for someone else’s holiday!