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Tourism and social networking, Part 4
Zinc survey shows how Canadians stay connected while vacationing


Vacations are all about enjoying a break from our workaday world, but a growing majority of Canadians just do not want to disconnect from friends, colleages and the "outside" world. 

As shown in the chart below, taken from Zinc's annual Canadian omnibus survey, even the least active segments of the online world are staying connecting with friends, colleagues and others through at least one network-based e-device.



"While on vacation, have you ever taken any of the following items with you?"

ELECTRONIC
DEVICES CARRIED
TOTAL
(n=929)
HEAVY
USERS

(9% of market)
BUSINESS
USERS

(8% of market)
SOCIAL
USERS

(15% of market)

FRIENDS &
FAMILY CIRCLES
(27% of market)
CASUAL
USERS
(32% of market)
NON-
USERS
(8% of market)
GPS/EMS 38% 37% 45% 39% 38% 37% 38%
Notebook computer 38% 54% 65% 44% 33% 30% 22%
Portable media device 36% 58% 43% 47% 36% 25% 21%
Smart phone w. Internet 26% 55% 39% 34% 21% 16% 15%
e-Reader/e-book
3% 6% 4% 2% 4% 3% 3%
None of these 31% 6% 20% 22% 35% 39% 42%


* * *

The reality of always-connected/always-on accessibility poses enormous opportunities for tourism operators and marketers - but also great risks:

If you are simply throwing ads and promotional blitz-type messages, you will be likely be treated as an intrusive and unwelcome visitor.

But if you can enhance the vacation experience, you could win new contacts and patrons - and benefit from the multiplier effect of having them share their positive experiences with others.

Here are a few of the best practices used by social network-savvy tourism marketers:
  • Before they book: Make it easier for people to find you in the first place; provide external links - to other travel sites, other customers's reviews, as well as to nearby attractions that might be of interest.
  • During their visit: Make it easy and economical for your guests to connect: Free Internet/wifi service is a much-appreciated convenience - and, by eliminating customers' very costly roaming fees, you add considerable value to your offering.
  • After they leave: Stay in touch! Make guests part of your network (Facebook fan page, e-newsletter, etc.), keep them informed and up to date on promotions and other incentives that are designed "for special guests only."
  • Invite and welcome customer comments and suggestions: You will want to share the positives, of course, but dealing quickly and openly with negative issues can be just as rewarding.
Applying the Zinc mantra: social media by the numbers
Marketing opportunities (and risks) like these are addressed in the tourism component of The Bridge, Zinc Research's annual omnibus survey of Canadian online user segments. This article uses data drawn from the survey and is based in part on a recent presentation delivered by Zinc president Brian F. Singh at a Travel Alberta conference. This and other articles in the series will provide a sampling of key tourism-oriented insights as seen from the perspective of five user segments; non-users are also included for comparitive purposes. (For a brief profile of The Bridge survey's user segments, click here.)

Other articles in this series look at the impacts and opportunities posed by social media both before and after the vacation experience. To view the series, click
here.

For further information on this and other omnibus research initiatives, contact Zinc Research president
Brian F. Singh.