Why is Social Media Taboo?
“The biggest surprise coming out of my research was the lack of social media participation by individual businesses operating in the tourism industry. How can it be that a marketing tool which reaches a global audience and is free to operate gets so little respect?”
Just over a year ago ehCanadaTravel.com started to look seriously into the social media craze unfolding online. I, myself, took a big interest and started researching social media on the internet until my fingers bled Maple Leaf red. I am not sure how many articles I studied but it added up to a lot. I often caught myself staying up late reading article after article digging deeper into this “15 minutes of fame” phenomenon and “go viral” addiction.
It was not until ehCanadaTravel.com started to participate in social media did I really find out how social media plays into the tourism industry. Being that we are not a Government funded DMO… social media looked like a positive communication channel for reaching out to the international traveler. Heck, any type of guerilla marketing tweaks our interest.
I found some interesting facts about social media online but most of the shocker-type tourism social media came from my own research and our own analytics. I discovered a lot about the tourism industry and its love-hate relationship with social media.
We analyzed a random sample of 100 tourism businesses in BC, Alberta, Yukon, NWT and Saskatchewan. We looked at their websites. We clicked on their social media links. We viewed their social media pages. What we found made some sense. One could even say it was expected.
Many of the tourism businesses in Canada are managed by an older generation. A generation which does not necessarily embrace technology nor want to learn new technology. Sad to say, some have even convinced themselves their business is too small to make a difference and the effort is to great with little returns.
The biggest surprise coming out of my research was the lack of social media participation by individual businesses operating in the tourism industry. How can it be that a marketing tool which reaches a global audience and is free to operate gets so little respect? Every return is profit on a $0 investment.
Here are some interesting results:
- From our random sample of businesses only 36 out of 100 tourism businesses in Western/Northern Canada participated in social media.
- The most recent post was over 3+ months old for 5 of the 36 social media pages.
- The social media page link on the business website did not work for 3 of the 36 social media pages.
- Businesses using social media were usually on multiple platforms (2.3 average).
- Facebook and Twitter are the most popular social media channels.
- Biggest users of social media were big business, remote business and tops in their field type businesses.
- Social media participation is very seasonal. Ski hills participate regularly in the winter and golf in the summer but not vice-versa.
Why do tourism businesses not use social media? Here is what we have concluded from our conversations…
- “I do not have time.”
- “I have been meaning to do it.”
- “It takes too much time to maintain.”
- “I am not technology savvy.”
Again we have to ask ourselves as an industry, “How can this be?” Can you imagine how effective it would be if all 100 businesses participated in social media. That would be an extra 64 social media pages which would be floating around in internet space marketing communities, adventures and activities. Now, can you imagine, if the bulk of business in the industry got behind it… it would have a tremendous impact on the overall Canadian tourism market worldwide.
Social media is free, far reaching and when used properly a great booking engine. After I sat back and thought about it for awhile it made sense to me. All I had to do was look into our past as an industry. Take for example, the internet website. It was not long ago many businesses did not believe a website was an important part of their business. Some did not have one for the longest time. Many still believed that rack cards and tourism information centres would be enough. Change is hard, it seems.
Will the tourism businesses in Canada keep playing catch up with technology? Only time will tell. All I know is that we encourage our Members to participate in all forms of social media to grow their business. We work with them. We provide them guidance and help promote them. But when it comes down to it… they have to put in the effort to make it work. All it takes is a post a day.
The “eh Team” of ehCanadaTravel.com (eh Canada Travel & Adventure) are the brother team of Greg and Colin Girard. Together they are the brains behind the ehCanadaTravel.com travel website, blog, social media and ehTV which is the largest and fastest growing booking, planning and researching tourism and travel network for Western and Northern Canada – currently expanding into Eastern and Atlantic Canada.