Social media undoubtedly has a large impact on markets all across the world from the US to countries in Central and Eastern Europe, and the travel industry is no exception. In recent years, social media platforms have heavily influenced peoples traveling itineraries across the globe. More and more users turn to social media to share their traveling experiences, compare information and simply discuss great restaurants, cheap hotels and thrilling adventures. Social networks can be very influential when it comes to discussing potential travel decisions, which heavily depends on word-of-mouth and online reviews. Interestingly enough, research conducted by eMarketer in 2013 found that the majority of travelers across the world tend to turn to online reviews when creating a travel itinerary. Online travel forums is the next most used channel, followed by Facebook. 

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Image courtesy of Flickr user Matthew Hurst 

In the twenty years after the fall of communism, tourism has become very popular in Eastern Europe and Central Europe. Cities including Prague, Budapest and Vienna are among some of the largest tourist destinations in the world.  So how does one successfully navigate the streets of a foreign land and make the most of their travel experience? Personally, I turn to TripAdvisor, one of the worlds most popular travel resources where user-generated content dominates the online community. TripAdvisor easily allows users to read and post reviews on restaurants, hotels and general travel destinations.

According to We Are Social, Eastern European countries lead the way in terms of time spent online, with internet users in Poland and Russia spending an average of 4.8 hours on the net each day. Smartphones have also become more and more prominent, heavily impacting the travel industry.  Smartphones are jam-packed with apps including maps, guidebooks and currency exchange rates, making peoples traveling experience much easier. 

In today’s digital age, engaging in social media has become part of our daily routine. Personally, not a day goes by when I don’t check Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. I must admit, constantly checking these different social media channels for the latest updates sometimes gets exhausting! It is not surprising that many travelers utilize their vacation time as an escape from the digital world. According to a survey created by Text100 regarding social media usage on leisure vacations, a quarter of respondents claim that while traveling, they enjoy taking a break from social media. But for many, it can be a challenge to find a balance between living in the moment and being distracted by a flurry of Facebook updates. A key factor in many respondents’ social media usage was dependent on whether they had access to internet connection or not. According to the responses, almost half of the people would be persuaded to use social media sites while on vacation if they had free WiFi. 

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Image courtesy of Flickr user Manolo Gomez

Personally, over my Spring Break trip last week I rarely engaged in social media networking – but this was mostly due to the fact that I only got free WiFi in the lobby of my hotel, (which, looking back, was a blessing in disguise). Half of the time I was exploring the city of Barcelona, I had no idea as to where I was going. Walking through the unfamiliar streets and trying exotic, unknown restaurants was definitely an exhilarating experience. The times I did have access to the internet, I used Facebook and Instagram primarily to share my travel experiences with friends and family. And who knows, maybe my social media updates will help the next traveler plan his next vacation! 

*Featured Image courtesy of Flickr user Brewbooks 


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