A recent survey conducted by Travel Technology Europe showed that 71% of the people who responded believe that social media, specifically sites like Facebook and Twitter was essential to their business. One in ten believe that social media is a waste of time.

Social Media Rules!
The surprising statistic of the survey isn’t the 71%. The surprise is that there’s even one respondent in ten that would actually feel that way. That’s ten percent of the people surveyed, and though that’s not a significant percentage, it’s still a noticeable amount. Frankly, if I ran a travel-related business and I caught wind that one of my employees was in that ten percent, I’d fire their clueless butts.

Seriously now; ten percent of the people surveyed think social media is a waste of time in the travel industry? Travel is a leisure pastime (well, at least recreational travel is), and if anything screams “leisure time”, it’s social media. People who think social media has no place in travel need to go off and herd sheep in the Falklands.

Any business that wants to increase its visibility in the 21st century needs to go where the people are, and the people are online, using social media. Some businesses are even getting creative with it, as the next section shows.

The Idea Behind Social Lounges
Certain businesses in the travel industry have taken to adding a more visual element to their websites as it pertains to social media. Rather than just having a list of social media platforms and some cliched “Like us on Facebook!” entreaty, hotels are putting together social lounges that provide a visual library of each hotel’s social media presences.

Salamander Resort in Middleburg, Virginia offers a good example of this trend. Consider it a virtual hangout where people can browse around and see images of the location along with relevant posts broken down by social media platform. This brings together two very key parts of marketing: images (the whole thing about pictures being worth a thousand words), and testimonials (in the form of posts). Nothing but good can come from this approach.

Bringing Technology Into The Picture
Social media works hand in hand with mobile technology, and increasing numbers of travel professionals are using tablets and other mobile devices in order to better engage customers and increase their online presence.

As more people turn to their mobile devices, hospitality professionals benefit from the flexibility and immediacy that smart phones and tablets so they can provide constant, timely communication between themselves and their customers.

According to a November 2013 survey conducted by TripAdvisor, almost two-thirds of all American travelers use social media while on vacation. So much for dropping off the grid and putting the daily grind behind you while on vacation, eh? This means that travel professionals need to make sure that they meet customers on their own terms.

Airlines And Social Media
Qantas and KLM have brought in staff and technology that allows them to monitor social media traffic based on customers’ GPS co-ordinates, and rush to rectify problems experiences by travelers at the respective airports. If other airlines follow suit, and there’s no reason why they wouldn’t, this means that customer service reps, troubleshooters, and other travel professionals will have to make sure that mobile devices are part of their standard tools.

Adapt Or Perish
Like it or not, concepts like smart phones, tablets, Facebook, Twitter are here to stay. Businesses who jump on board the bandwagon will ride it to success. Those who don’t will be left in the dust.

Author Bio: This post was contributed by John Terra. John has been a freelance writer since 1985. He writes about everything from running 5K’s to SEO optimization.