November 16, 2018 9:19 pm

Social media has ‘drastically changed’ the way Canadians travel: study

WATCH ABOVE: It turns out social media is playing a big role in how people choose their travel destinations. Emily Mertz has the details.

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In decades past, prospective travellers would consult vacation manuals or travel agents before booking a trip, but now Canadians are increasingly seeking tips from social media.

“It’s changed drastically the way we travel, the influence is there,” said Andre Buarque, Booking.com‘s Alberta area manager.

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The trip-booking company surveyed 21,500 people in 29 different countries between 2017 and 2018, to determine how social media will change travel trends in 2019.

“Do the posts from other people influence what we do and what we buy? Yes, of course, especially travel because we’re talking about an experience; it’s not a physical product,” Buarque said.

“What we saw on the research… around 11 per cent of Canadian travellers got inspiration on where to travel [and] what to do by celebrities or Instagrammers, those famous ones.

“Some of them actually reproduce the same poses at the same place that they did — kind of intimating their idols or people they admire.”

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He said while other social media platforms can also influence travel trends, Instagram is powerful because it’s so visual.

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“Pretty much every single traveller now is an advertiser,” Buarque said. “They can take the pictures, they can advertise that and they can inspire other people.”

The research found some Canadians even want to take it a step further: becoming a so-called influencer. Ten per cent of travellers admit they hope to use travel to launch a social media career. And 17 per cent even see potential to earn a living as an influencer or travel blogger, as opposed to having a traditional, full-time job.

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However, while celebrities sharing their globetrotting adventures can inspire trends, the proliferation also seems to be increasing the value of rare, quirky and undiscovered travel experiences.

“It’s very interesting,” Buarque said. “What we saw on Instagram is actually a counter-effect.

“We found 43 per cent of Canadian travellers actually want to travel where people never go. So it’s actually the opposite.

“They see the picture, they say, ‘Crowded place, got it.’ Half of them say,’Lovely. I want to go to a place nobody is going.’ I think it’s a lot of the social media effect to be like, ‘Oh, I’ve been here. This is unique. This is a unique experience.'”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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