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The findings of Accor Asia Pacific’s second Social Media Monitor suggest that travellers are now spending as much time researching, planning, boasting about and reporting on their travels as they do actually relaxing on a beach or exploring new destinations.

The survey has discovered that 70% of travellers across Asia Pacific now use social media when they travel, with those from China (84%), Vietnam (83%) and Indonesia (82%) the most active users.

Travellers from Australia, New Zealand and Japan are the least active, but even from those countries two in five are unable to peel themselves away from their devices while travelling.

On average, travellers are spending 2.8 hours per day on social media platforms, with the Indonesians, Malaysians and Thais all spending around four hours daily.

Accor worked with ORC International to survey over 6500 travellers across 13 countries to uncover which sites and platforms are most important to its guests across Asia Pacific.

As the largest hotel group in the region, with 590 hotels across 17 countries, Accor is uniquely placed to provide a full insight into the social media habits of travellers and the group uses the results to better target travellers where and when they are looking to search, book or share their travel experiences.

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“Social media has become all-pervasive in the travel industry as we can see from the results of the latest Accor Hotels Social Media Monitor,” said Accor’s Vice President Digital Marketing and Distribution, Jens Uwe Parkitny.

“This survey provides great insight into where our guests are looking for inspiration for their travels, how they engage with social media during their stay and how they share their experiences afterwards.

“We can then use this information to meet their needs at each stage of the customer’s journey.

“At the same time, monitoring how social media behavior evolves and changes year on year, allows us to refine Accor’s social media strategy across Asia Pacific,” Parkitny said.

Facebook remains the most popular platform for travellers, followed by WhatsApp, but the survey found that made-in-Asia instant messaging platforms have increased in popularity since last year’s survey, with WeChat up 13% and Line up 11%.

In some markets these instant messaging platforms have even started to overtake Facebook as the dominant social network for sharing information about travel.

The survey highlights how quickly the social media landscape changes and shows that rich media networks such as Youtube and Instagram are growing in popularity, with 23% of travellers using Youtube multiple times daily and 11% using Instagram.

The use of WhatsApp is widespread in the region (33%) and has surpassed Facebook in four markets: Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and India.

Line is a favourite with respondents in Thailand (71%) and overtook Facebook for the first time this year in terms of daily usage. Line is also among the top three most popular networks in Indonesia (33%) and Japan (26%).

One surprise is that WeChat has knocked Sina Weibo off top spot in Mainland China, with three in four travellers acknowledging multiple daily usage. And in Hong Kong, the app also climbed into the top three.

“Accor uses the results of this research to reach out to its customers more effectively,” says Accor’s Vice President Guest Experience, Emilie Couton.

“For example, Accor Thailand recently showcased Ibis hotels on a Line Lucky Prices promotion, gathering more than 20,000 participants in just three days. Accor China also launched its WeChat account with a ‘Book Your Next Memories’ campaign which quickly gathered 9,000 followers and supported the launch of the group’s local website,” Couton said.

Almost half of respondents said they use Facebook multiple times a day (including in China) and just 13% say they have never used it. Women use Facebook the most, with 54% of them using the network multiple times daily (versus 45% for men) and Filipinos are the top users in the region, increasing by 13 points versus last year (73% multiple daily usage).

When it comes to country comparisons, there are major differences. In Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, Facebook dominates all three travel phases (before, during and after the trip). However, in Singapore, Malaysia and India, Facebook is the place to search before and share after the trip, while WhatsApp is used to stay in touch during travel. It’s exactly the same for South Korea, except WhatsApp is replaced by Kakaotalk. In Hong Kong, Facebook is the place to research and plan the trip, and WhatsApp is the platform of choice for sharing during and after the trip. Similarly in China, Sina Weibo is the place to search, whereas WeChat is preferred for sharing.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management