Italy has always been on my travel bucket list for many years. Recently, my boyfriend and I booked a trip to Italy in Spring 2016 as a graduation present for business school. While emailing countless people for hotel recommendations and sites to see, I began to think about how travel has changed recently, particularly through social media and digital business.
The three primary ways that travel has changed is due to the sharing economy (ie: Airbnb), social reviews, and social media sites.
Sharing Economy and Travel
In a recent Social Media class, we discussed the implications of sharing economy. An article by MIT Sloan Management Review states that “while individuals are traditionally often seen ownership as the most desireable way to have access to share products and services rather than buy or own them.” This idea is also known as “collaborative consumption.” Rachel Botsman also discusses this idea in her Tedtalk.
This idea of “sharing economy’ is growing rapidly. This same MIT Sloan Management Review article notes that in 2025, the sharing economy in five main sectors would represent $335 B in revenue worldwide. One particular example of sharing economy who is making headway in current society is Airbnb. Airbnb also exemplifies how travel has changed over the years due to sharing economy and collaborative consumption.
Airbnb is a “peer to peer online marketplace and homestay network that enables people to list or rent short term lodging in residential properties. It was founded in 2008 in San Francisco. Airbnb is a resource that allows you to “borrow” other peoples homes for a fee. Because of Airbnb, a user is able to visit different areas and get a taste of the actual culture that exists in that particular location. As a particular example, when I first graduated college, I lived in Boston and worked in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. After about two months of commuting the two hours each way, I decided to rent a room in Providence once a week to alleviate the stress of driving so much each day. Without Airbnb, this wouldn’t be possible. When it comes to travel, more and more people are renting homes on Airbnb, rather than spending money on a hotel. The ability to rent a home or apartment from someone who lives in the new town, city, or country, that you are visiting, allows a more authentic trip. It provides an ability to immerse yourself fully into the culture of the place you are visiting.
Airbnb recently expanded its business ventures into “Trips,” which gives you the ability to plan excursions with locals to gain a better understanding of what it is actually like to live there.
Airbnb Trips includes both “Experiences, and Places. In addition, this company will also expand into flights and transportation to become a more comprehensive experience. A recent New York Times article discusses Trips and it’s potential: “Trips is an immense program of both vertical and horizontal expansion into Airbnb’s business model.” It shows how Airbnb hopes to transition into an Expedia like model and offer a comprehensive travel resource. When it comes to planning our own trip to Italy, we may leverage this site to gain a deeper understanding of where to go.
Another resource that has been helpful to plan our trip to Italy are online reviews. There are many websites that can help to find the best hotels as well as things to do. An example of a site that does this is Tripadvisor. On this site, the user indicates when and where you are going. Tripadvisor will then provide a list of things to do, hotels, restaurants, etc in the area. The value of Tripadvisor when planning a trip is its social reviews and social network. Thousands of people provide reviews and star ratings on different aspects of your trip. Tripadvisor has been a great resource for planning our own trip as it provides real life feedback on those who actually have been to the place rather than what a hotel site may indicate about its own hotel. Along this note, Tripadvisor provides both “Professional pictures” as well as “Traveler’s pictures,” which gives the user a comparison of what the hotel wants it to look like as compared to a real experience.
The final resource that we leveraged to plan our trip is social media sites. There are countless ways to leverage Instagram, Facebook, etc to gain recommendations for travel plans. For example, on Instagram, you can search in tags certain locations, etc to look for recommendations in particular locations. This article by Fommers shows the top 25 best travel Instagram accounts.
Here are a few examples:
In addition to Instagram, there are social blogs that provide recommendations and information on real experiences. For example, Lesley Murphy, has a blog titles “Les Road Les Traveled.” The blog provides a real world experience of the travels that she has taken over time. It provides an idea of where to go and what to do while you are there.
Here is a list of the top 10 travel blogs.
As you can see, planning a trip has changed completely over recent years due to social media and digital business. There are countless resources to find recommendations on trips. It has become much easier to find ideas of what to do in a new place. Right now, there is a heavy reliance on these sites. While Tripadvisor may be a good resource to find more common things to do, blogs and Instagram accounts provide information about things to do that are more off the beaten path. It is necessary to balance all these sites in order to plan a fun and interesting trip.