The rise of social media is creating a new breed of travelers for whom the ability to instantly publicize their trip is as important as the experience itself.
So-called “social-capital seekers” increasingly structure travel with online followers in mind and aim to document it instantly via Facebook Inc., blogs, Twitter or “selfie” photos on Instagram Inc., the Future Foundation report for booking system specialist Amadeus IT Holding SA said on Thursday, predicting the “appetite will be ravenous for moments of shareable wish-fulfillment.”
As the ranks of the social network-savvy armed with smartphones impaled on selfie-sticks proliferate, people increasingly target trips that offer the greatest social returns, while destinations that lack crowd-sourced cachet — or the vital Wi-Fi connectivity — risk being shunned. Benefits of digitally documented trips include basking in adulation “like a rock star returning from a world tour,” Amadeus said.
“We can foresee a market for ‘clout-boosting breaks’ filled with consciously feed-friendly moments designed to help users top-up their network influence,” the study said. “A holiday is not entirely one’s own: it is made for sharing.”
The report cites the example of the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Paris, which it says organizes chauffeur-driven trips for selfie-centered guests who can post their photos online from the Wi-Fi-enabled car while shuttling between stops.
For travel providers, the rise of the social-capital seeker will require a degree of cultural and technological change, according to the report, with the industry required to embrace the communication methods favored by its technophile clientele.
Companies will also need to aid customers in seamlessly accessing social media and help to “curate” their trip, while individuals with the biggest followings will demand rewards for online endorsements, whether in terms of upgrades, discounts, cash refunds, reduced duty-free prices or “VIP services.”
The study, which seeks to predict travel trends through 2030, envisages the emergence of five other groups: Simplicity Searchers, generally older people or families who prefer to have someone arrange their trip; Cultural Purists, seeking “immersive” travel; Reward Hunters, who favor luxury travel and sporting holidays and are often singletons; Ethical Travelers, for whom environmental concerns are uppermost; and Obligation Meeters, traveling on business or to visit family.
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