A new travel planning tool has just been rolled out by Facebook, helping users to get a little more help from their friends when it comes to recommendations on where to stay, visit, eat and drink.
Reviews are still a major element in the decision making process with as many as 95% of consumers reading reviews before booking a trip. However, they don't always take the visitor's own personal preferences, lifestyle, age or interests into consideration. We (84% of us) trust the opinions of family and friends above all others. Traditionally these opinions may have been exchanged in a face-to-face environment but increasingly these conversations are happening online. Facebook is now capitalising on this trend with the release of its Recommendations feature.
So how does it work? When using Facebook, a question about where to go, eat, stay etc. is detected automatically and users are prompted to label it as a request. This then creates a more eye-catching post alerting friends to the information which is being requested. As recommendations are provided, Facebook generates tiles that link to the business's Facebook pages (provided they have one), displaying star ratings for their reviews and plotting them on a dynamic map. Users can then click on the previews for the listed establishments to be directed to their Facebook pages.
So from now on it's really important that tourism providers keep their Facebook pages up to date and address any negative reviews. For DMOs, although they may not be able to engage with visitors directly using Recommendations, the new tool provides yet another channel for raising the profile of their destinations and driving in visitors.