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Travel buyers shift the social conversation in a desire for genuine content

By The Drum Network, Staff Writer

December 4, 2019 | 3 min read

There is a major shift in behaviour amongst consumers when talking about holidays, according to a recent “Sun, Sea, Social and Search” report by Immediate Future.

Data drawn from Brandwatch Intelligence tools, alongside insight from Global Web Index (GWI), gives travel brands a picture of a changed social media landscape.

Audiences now show a preference for what they see as genuine content. The over -produced, staged, ‘meaningful quotes’ posts or the shots of perfect beaches, blue skies and turquoise seas no longer cut the mustard. People are now on the hunt for what they deem to be real pictures, real reviews and real connections.

Katy Howell, CEO at Immediate Future says: “Consumers are sharing more detail from holidays, unfiltered destinations and candid snaps. The typical brochure content is ignored at best. At worst creates suspicion.

“Brands need to be focused on quality content if they intend to make an impact. And that means being focused on trust drivers such as personality, consistency and genuine connections.”

The report also reveals a move to discussions in forums and dark social (such as Messenger or WhatsApp). 63% of leisure travellers use Messenger and 61% use WhatsApp for travel related activities. This move is aligned with a desire for more genuine content, indicating consumers are looking for trusted recommendations and advice. According to GWI, UK holiday-goers are 19% more likely to say they’re easily swayed by other people’s opinions and holiday buyers are turning to smaller networks of friends, family and known communities.

Life in the moment

Search and social are good bedfellows, so this year the report brings in search data and recommendations from Re:Signal. And search insight backs up the need for quality content. Visual search/Google images are getting more important as a key driver for awareness around destinations.

And while image search on Google steps up, the channel behaviours have changed. Twitter is more driven by – it explodes into life ‘in the moment’.

Howell explains the Instagram change: “Instagram is less about the destination, city or country. Instead we see more focus on seasonality, holiday types (beach, nature, adventure) and specific attractions, alongside history and art. Posts reveal more detail, or interesting facts, rather than just showing off a perfectly posed picture.”

The full report examines where social has the biggest impact in the purchase journey, and which destinations were discussed the most and more.

You can download the report for free at


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