Despite the best efforts of most travel brands to harness Facebook’s reach to drive interest and bookings, only 0.3% of people leaving the social networking giant subsequently reach a travel site, according to October analysis from Compete. With just 8.3 million of the total Facebook referrals, estimated by Compete to be 3.4 billion, travel lags far behind the leading categories and is only ahead of automotive (0.1%). Search and email aside, music and video boasted the largest share of site category visits directly downstream of Facebook in September, accounting for 7.7% of the total. This was more than double the share of the next leading categories, news and media (3.4%) and shopping (3.4%). Other social networks picked up 2.3% of the referrals, while career and education and Financial Services accounted for 1.8% and 1.6% respectively.
From Bad to Worse
Compete also assessed the inbound and outbound rank of Facebook among the leading travel brands that get referrals from the social network, finding that nearly all of the travel sites’ referrals to Facebook declined month-over-month. The largest decrease in inbound and outbound share was experienced by Orbitz, which dropped 18% and 22% respectively. Among the travel sites measured, Facebook is far more often a part of the research process for supplier shoppers than for online travel agency (OTA) shoppers: Facebook’s average rank as a referring site for supplier sites is 4, compared to 11 for OTAs, while for outbound it is 3 for suppliers against 8 for OTAs.
Expectations Low for Facebook Services
Consumer perceptions may be a reason for travel’s inability to realize Facebook’s potential. Respondents to an earlier Compete survey indicated that their expectations of current or future travel services on Facebook are far worse than for current online travel resources for research and booking. Whereas about 1 in 4 consumers have worse expectations for Facebook travel services in categories such as loyalty and rewards, ease of research, ease of changing reservation, and ease of booking, just 5% expect that those services will be better met by travel sites on Facebook.
ComScore: Online Travel Bug Bites Consumers
An all-time high of 116 million US consumers visited the online travel category in June 2011, with half of the month’s top-gaining categories falling under this umbrella, according to comScore Media Metrix data. Travel – ground/cruise sites saw the strongest gains, up 14% to nearly 13.5 million visitors.