What’s everyone else doing? Social media in tourism survey results

Brunton surveying compass (courtest Sids1 on Flickr CC)

Brunton surveying compass (courtest Sids1 on Flickr CC)

Update – here are the tourism survey results 2019. Includes a PDF download version of the information, at the bottom of the post.

As we continue marching boldly into 2014, we thought we would share some of the results from our Social Media in Tourism survey completed in late 2013. Thanks very much to all of those who participated!

There were 123 survey respondents worldwide, drawn mostly from our email newsletter list although we did have non-subscribers participate when we announced the survey on our social media channels.

Here are some of the results regarding what’s working for you in social media, what’s not working, and how you prefer to learn and keep up with the fast pace of change in destination marketing.

We’re sharing this so that you can see a snapshot of where you stand among your peers, measure how you and your organization fit into the mix with the respondents, and see that you’re not alone in dealing with some common challenges.

Who You Are & What You’re Doing Now in Social

Types of tourism survey respondents

Given our co-founder Becky McCray’s championing of small towns and rural entrepreneurship, team member Leslie McLellan’s “Just a Small Town Girl” personal website, and co-founder Sheila Scarborough’s travel blogging from out-of-the-way, unique places, it’s no surprise to us that over half of survey respondents were either a small town, county or regional DMO, or the owner of a small tourism-dependent business.

We strongly believe that any smaller destination can tell stories that are just as compelling as those from a large city. A major strength of social media for such storytelling is that it is extraordinarily powerful, yet affordable for everyone.

We also had a smattering of responses from economic development corporations, bed and breakfasts, historic downtown organizations, consultants, and tour operators.

Active social networks for Tourism Currents 2013 survey respondents

Facebook and Twitter are the dominant social media platforms for our survey respondents, but blogging is catching up fast, as is video-based destination marketing via YouTube and the photo-sharing site Pinterest, which is like a digital bulletin board.

A few also mentioned TripAdvisor, Foodspotting, Vine, and SlideShare under All Other.

Then we asked an open-ended question….

 If you had unlimited time & money, what is the one social network you would like to do more with?

In order, you said you’d like to spend more time and money on….

1)  Facebook – several specified Facebook advertising/Sponsored Posts.
2)  YouTube – “….this is how people are learning now.”
3)  Blog – “….because the results last more than 2 minutes. Posts live on & keep sending visitors.”
4)  Pinterest
5)  LinkedIn – several specified LinkedIn Company Pages & connecting with the meetings/events market.
6)  Instagram – “Our destinations are highly photogenic.”
7)  Twitter – “I make my best connections on Twitter.”
8)  Google+
9)  Vine

Another open-ended question….

What is NOT going well for your organization in social media marketing?

Some specified Twitter and Facebook (especially being forced into more pay-to-play on Facebook,) but overall the consensus is that there’s not enough time for social media, not enough resources (bodies and dollars), social media activity keeps getting stuck in office silos/is not coordinated, and there’s not enough engagement on social platforms given the effort expended.

Here are some sample quotes from survey respondents:

**  “[Our] Board does not see the usefulness of ‘messing around on Facebook.'”

**  “Finding the time to create and edit content and post everything.”

**  “Social media is an afterthought because of the lack of time and staff. It cannot be an afterthought. It must be at the forefront of our efforts.”

**  “You get people to Like your Facebook Page but that’s it. There’s no activity after that.”

**  “Older age citizens and business owners not accepting social media as a form of marketing.”

**  “Engagement. We post and tweet but don’t engage; we’re fly-by social media marketers.”

**  “Twitter is my main channel for getting destination information out to customers – B2C or B2B – but very rarely is the content shared.”

**  “Instagram….trying to get people to share images with hashtags, and have had no luck.”

**  “We know we need skin in the game with Google+, but is it really beneficial?”

**  “Keeping up content on our LinkedIn Company Page.”

**  “Growing our list of followers and then closing the gap between followers and relationships.”

**  “Lack of clear understanding about strategies, and so many networks, too little time.”

We then asked how you like to learn….

How You Prefer to Get Your Professional Development/Learning

How do you prefer to learn about social media in tourism or hospitality?

More and more of you are comfortable with online learning, especially when it’s part of a hybrid training package that includes phone/Skype/GoToMeeting personal consulting calls (we call that the Full Course with Full Support) and/or in-person workshops.

It’s good to hear that you like that, because we’re doing a lot more of these hybrid online-and-offline packages than we used to, and the data shows that it works well for many people.

When we launched our flagship online course in social media for tourism in 2009, we found that many liked the idea of our training, but not necessarily getting that training online. Since then, the options have widened to allow a more effective mix of training delivery platforms, online and off, that better fit people’s learning styles.

For training help with tourism or hospitality partners, most said they prefer that we do it for them but only after we customize it to their particular situation, which makes sense.

What matters most in how you get social media training for tourism?
Loud and clear – it is very important to you to be able to connect easily with whoever is teaching you this stuff (and we think we’re pretty accessible.)

You also don’t want it to take too much time, or cost too much, and it had better be relevant to your job.


So what do you think? Do these results fall in line with what you expected from the industry?

Let us know your thoughts down in the Comments of this newsletter post, and contact us if you’re looking for social media training for either you or your partners in 2014.

We’re happy to assist however we can, but let us know early, as our calendars (happily) are filling up!


Want to learn how to connect your destination or hotel with Chinese travelers?

COTTM (China Outbound Travel and Tourism Market) trade show on outbound travel from China (photo courtesy COTTM)

COTTM (China Outbound Travel and Tourism Market) trade show on outbound travel from China (photo courtesy COTTM)

We are proud Media Partners for the COTTM (China Outbound Travel & Tourism Market) in Beijing, April 9-11, 2014.

Millions of Chinese visitors are already on their way; COTTM can help you bring them to your destination, attraction or hotel.


Have you connected with us in your favorite places? If you arrived here directly from a link, here’s the email signup for this newsletter. Say hi to Leslie and Sheila at Tourism Currents on….

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Commenting area

  1. Simon Costain February 5, 2014 at 5:51 am · ·

    No Pinterest?

    • Leslie McLellan February 6, 2014 at 11:32 am · ·

      HI there Simon! Pinterest shows up in the second graph (I know, the printing is tough to see!) as being one that folks are actively using and also it’s #4 under “If you had unlimited time & money, what is the one social network you would like to do more with?” So looks like there’s a good number of people interacting with that platform. Thanks for taking the time to read the newsletter and comment!!

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