Wollongong will be hosting the first Australian Social Media Tourism Symposium this month, gathering together heads of tourism boards and destination managers to explore how to use social media to more effectively engage customers.
Conference coordinator Rodney Payne says the industry is facing significant disruption from start-ups.
“There are lots of start-up companies trying to disrupt the norm and how business is done. It’s not just travel, but the internet really doesn’t like middle men and a lot of start-ups are working to cut them out,” Payne says.
“If you look at a start-up like TripAdvisor and contrast that to how business was done 10 years ago, they’re one of the most powerful forces in travel now,” Payne says, adding that start-ups like Airbnb are changing what consumers expect from travel companies.
Payne says there are “massive benefits” for travel companies that use social media well.
“There are lots of opportunities to incorporate social and digital marketing because the travel consumer is so quick to adopt new tools,” Payne says.
“The real benefit is to harvest the power of advocacy. We all knew on a hunch that word of mouth is the most powerful factor in travel, and now it’s on steroids and you can see it.”
Several Australian start-ups have been making waves on the travel scene recently.
StartupSmart spoke last week to one of the presenters set to speak at the symposium, Craig Makepeace, about how to turn a travel blog into a business.
Two Australian start-ups made The Independent newspaper’s Best 50 Travel Websites list last month.
For more information on how to launch a travel agency business, click here.