Photos posted on social networking sites such as Facebook have significant but largely untapped potential as promotional tools for the tourism industry, a Victoria University researcher says.
Marketing lecturer Dr Leanne White said more than 500 million photos are posted on Facebook each month, making it the largest source of online photographs.
“Sites such as Facebook enable us to experience tourism destinations vicariously through the experiences of our friends,” Dr White said.
“This has enormous potential for the online promotion of tourist destinations in the industry through links and tools such as Travel Recommender Systems (TRS), applications that e-commerce sites exploit to suggest products to potential customers.
“In the highly democratised world of the internet, one person’s travel snapshots can easily become part of another person’s travel plans.”
Dr White examined the travel photo albums of 10 Facebook users for a recent study, analysing their use of travel photographs.
The five women and five men who participated in the study had an average of 132 Facebook friends. Both groups posted large numbers of travel photos on their Facebook pages – the men averaged 122 each and the women 108.
She found that those who posted photos of travel spots with people in them received more comments than those whose pictures contained no people.
“This reinforces our understanding of human nature: we humans thrive on communication and connection with each other. Facebook facilitates this need and its potential for the travel industry is only just starting to be realised.”