Social Media And Travel Websites: The Italian Top10

Media about holidays and vacations are among the most shared contents on social networks and they are a main source of inspiration for tourists. Still, it is unclear what is their true impact on sales, but we can guess the importance of the role of social channels for travel websites considering how many visits are coming from there. 
This website ranking is based on the inbound traffic from social networks generated by Italian users:

Comparing this ranking to the one based on total traffic volumes, we can notice the strong progression of a bunch of national portals (Paesionline.it, that gains the first place, Zingarate.com and Siviaggia.it) thanks to the consistent weight of the social traffic on the total number of visits (“% social”).

The main international players can still be found in the Top10 only because of their huge total volume of traffic, in which the social component is very low (we can observe that for websites belonging to the so called sharing economy — Airbnb.it in the Top10, BlaBlacar.it very close to — the social channels component has a little higher percentage). Among OTAs, metasearch and service providers, Skyscanner represents a partial exception thanks to a social channel that in near to 10% of total the traffic.

Facebook and Co.

The main part of social media traffic comes from Facebook (91%), followed by YouTube (5,5%) and Twitter (1,5%). The remaning 2% comes from a number of sources with Reddit, Vkontakte and Linkedin playing a consistent role, while Pinterest and Instagram perform below expectations, despite a visual approach that you would say closer to the Travel environment.

Even here, we can find some important differences: the big players are less in debt with Facebook in favour of YouTube, a type of media that obviusly requires bigger budget and deeper strategic thinking. Notably, for Booking.com, YouTube reaches the 18% of social traffic, a percentage that decreases with the decreasing volumes of other websites. Compared to its ranking, only Airbnb seems to have a percentage coming from YouTube lower than expected. Considering the national portals mentioned above, they rely almost exclusively on Facebook.

Social Media and Travel Customer Journey

Now we can try to put data in context. No doubt that for the top travel websites the social channel is a minor source of traffic. It has not only low volumes, but it also shows high bounce rates (above 60%) and short lasting sessions. In fact, in the digital tourist customer journey socials are too far from conversion, as shown by the Rundown of Think With Google. They rule in sharing and in inspiration moments, but they aren’t in search and booking.

Each position in the travel industry comes with a specific strategy of traffic acquisition. Top player are focused on search and booking because they base their business model on owning the transaction. It is clear that the social channels are usually almost useless for them.

Things change for players focused on destination marketing and with a media model, as we can see in the Top10 ranking. They can’t ignore social channels. It actually becomes a qualifying part of the mix.

This post was first published in Italian on Linkedin.

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