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2010 has definitely been the year of social media, with social networking and platforms permeating every facet of most industries. Now, a new report by Deloitte says that social media will play a crucial role in the travel and hospitality industry in their bid to connect with consumers.

The report, “Hospitality 2015: Game Changers or Spectators”, says that savvy consumers are now unbundling the whole booking experience, self-booking directly with suppliers or through new channels such as network carrier sites. According to an article in Business Report, the report asserts that ‘in the next five years emerging markets like China and India will dominate the travel and hospitality industries as there will be a significant rise of the middle classes, generating an increase in demand for both business and leisure travel.’

The article further elaborates:

Deloitte forecasts that next year consumer demand for travel and accommodation will have recovered from the devastating effects of the recession, while social media websites will be integral to travel and accommodation decisions.

While internet use is growing in South Africa, access has yet to reach the critical mass prevalent in such developed economies as the US and the UK. The popularity of social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook is increasing.

According to a study by BMI-TechKnowledge last August, about 1.3 million South Africans use some sort of social networking. It expects this to reach 4.5 million in 2013.

Increased internet use will mean that hotels and other establishments will be able to increase their revenue by encouraging travellers to use social media to contact each other.

Deloitte predicts that the most successful brands in 2015 will be those that most efficiently engage with consumers and clearly differentiate their offering from competitors.

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