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Social Media For Travel, Part II: Customize Your Experience

By Alyssa Kritsch | 12 months ago | Skills | No Comments

image courtesy of
Image courtesy of Rhianne Jones

Using social media for travel planning is making it easier than ever to plan the perfect vacation.

With these simple tips, and a little planning ahead, you can find the perfect flight, accommodation and activities to keep you talking about ‘that one time in Paris’ for the rest of your life.

Missed part one of our social media for travel series? read it here.

Booking the Right Flight

Start by using a travel aggregator website (like Expedia) to search your desired flight route. This will give you an idea of which airlines offer what you are looking for.

Next, make a new tab on your dashboard specifically for your vacation and create a list of airlines that fly your desired route, as well as some internet travel websites. This allows you to compare promotions, deals and giveaways. You should also create a list of travel experts and bloggers to discover some valuable tips.

Whether you are on a shoestring or a comfortable budget, keep in mind the type of vacation you’re after.

sunset-airplane
Image courtesy of Kuster and Wildhaber Photography

Create a search stream to monitor the airlines and travel website you are considering using. This will give you insight into other customer experiences, as well as the company’s quality of customer service. Follow the same process for booking bus trips and high speed rails.

#TravelTip: If you see a great promotion on social media from a travel website, do a little digging, find out what airline the offer is with and check their native website. You could benefit from cutting out the middleman.

Stress-Free Accommodation

Booking accommodation during your vacation always involves a bit of uncertainty, especially when there is a language barrier. With so many review sites and different rating systems it’s hard to be sure you are getting what you want.

Luckily, social media has dissolved the impersonal nature of booking your stay. Here is a few social accommodation platforms to consider:

AirBnB

Why squeeze into a rundown hotel room when you could stay in a quaint apartment with Eiffel Tower views, for the same price?

Airbnb connects people all over the world who are looking to have a unique and authentic travelling experience. Use the ‘Neighbourhood’ feature to discover in depth guides to a city’s cultural landscape — allowing you to pick the perfect match to your tastes.

screen-shot-airbnb

Couchsurfing

If you’re travelling on a tight budget or looking for a real adventure, consider Couchsurfing. The popular networking organization includes a community in over 100 000 cities.

Not your cup of tea? Couchsurfing is at its very heart a social networking site, and a great place to connect with locals and ask questions.

screen-shot-couchsurfing

Customize Your Experience

Travelling to a new city often includes an endless list of ‘things to do’ and ‘places to see’ — most of which are impossible to accomplish on a restricted timeline. Not to mention those certain cultural experiences you don’t want to miss, like espresso and a croissant in that cute Paris cafe.

How do you narrow down what you really want to do, and discover authentic experiences along the way?

Google+ Local

G+ Local is a great tool to search for things to do while on vacation. Simply search by city and see a comprehensive list of possibilities organized by price range, customer ratings and GPS location.

screen-shot-local

Narrow down your choices further by using G+ Local’s in depth reviews for restaurants, hotels and activities. Choose between reviews from friends, local residents or top critics.

G+ Local allows you to find the best places, at the right price, to make sure you maximize your vacation time. Ready to book your reservation or tickets? Online booking information, up-to-date opening times and contact information is all at the click of a button. screen-shot-local-g+

Recommended App: Tripit

As soon as you start booking the details of your trip, you’ll notice a wave of confirmation emails, check in information and other details you’ll need to keep organized.

Don’t risk having to scramble last minute to find emails or remember login information. Tripit aggregates all your information as you book, keeping it in one master itinerary that’s accessible on your mobile device.

Including:

  • Flight, rental cars, rail + bus itineraries
  • Accommodation, events + restaurant confirmations
  • Weather + local maps
  • Syncs to your calendar for easy sharing

Stay tuned for Part three, as we explore how to manage your vacation with limited wifi access.


Social Media For Travel, Part I: Visualize Your Destination

How do you use social media to help plan your vacations? Comment below.

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13 comments
YourCruiseAdvisor
YourCruiseAdvisor

SiMcmanus, you bring up an interesting point.  Alyssa has provided some great social media sites for travel research. A travel agent can of course also use social media for research and come to the same conclusions about which is the best snorkeling company or best shopping mall, saving you time on the research.  However the best travel agent to find is one who has actually been there (and there are many of those) and those who are skilled at assisting your research to not only find the best of the best but also to dig around to find out exactly what your perception of best might be.  Social Media on its own can provide some great subjective answers but often very few objective answers.  Having spent years travelling around the world at my own expense and for business,  spending time and establishing contacts in such places as Bali, Indonesia and Singapore I would really enjoy helping plan a dream vacation to those areas for my clients.

Leslie M Miller
Leslie M Miller

SiMcmanus, what is it you think a travel agent does?  It is a travel agent's job to KNOW the best places to go, and things to do.  THAT IS OUR PROFESSION! We spend countless hours of our own time, without pay and usually at our cost to educate ourselves on the destinations we sell and everything there is to do there.  More than not a TRAVEL AGENT will know the name of the owner of the best snorkeling company, because we have experienced it first hand.  I just sent a couple on their honeymoon to Vancouver BC, I got them a complimentary upgrade on their hotel room along with other amenities delivered to their room because I know the manager of the hotel.  There is NO social media app that can deliver that type of service, PERIOD.  Do your local travel agent a favor, quit wasting their time on booking your airfare.  You can do it yourself with one of your apps.  Oh yea, when your mega awesome vacation app looses your reservation at the five start hotel you paid $99.00, DO NOT call your local travel agent to bail you out. Call customer service and see how far you get in getting a new reservation or a refund. 

SiMcmanus
SiMcmanus

Whoops! Seems like the agents are swarming. Good post Alyssa going to use these tips on my upcoming trip. And BTW I used an agent for some of it, flights and some hotels. Agents have their place, but I sure wouldn't trust my local agent to know where to find the best snorkelling company in Nusa Lembongan, the best shopping mall in Medan and best hawker centre in Singapore.     

CharlieFunk
CharlieFunk

Or, call a travel professional that does this for a living, save yourself 15 or 20 hours of time that you could be doing something else that you enjoy or make money doing. 

YourCruiseAdvisor
YourCruiseAdvisor

Alyssa you seem to have the impression there is a cost associated with using a travel agent.  A travel agent rarely charges for their professional services which includes not just using their experience and knowledge to assist in planning your trip but being there when things go wrong and being an advocate for their clients.  They also have access to wholesalers who can often provided discounted rates for airfares and hotels that are not available via a public site and of course the Travel Agent will package the whole vacation and ensure you have all your documentation so that can enjoy a carefree vacation knowing someone is there to support you. 

Sharon
Sharon

What you are suggesting is a lot of work! Why would you go through all this work when an agent can do it for you?! I can do the work for the client. We/ I do NOT charge fees for packages or cruises. In some instances you can book your own are to avoid processing fees as airlines do not pay commission.

L Hulbert
L Hulbert

Why would you do all this yourself when a professional travel agent can handle all of the trip details and give you actual first hand recommendations.   Why take a chance planning a trip of a lifetime using social media that may or may not be accurate.   totally off the mark here with this article

AnnB612
AnnB612

You don't have to pay to use a travel agent. Some of us do charge a small planning fee. But don't you pay doctors and lawyers for their expertise as well? 

Alyssa Kritsch
Alyssa Kritsch moderator

@SiMcmanus Simon, thank you so much for your comment. I hope your upcoming trip to Southeast Asia is fantastic, such a beautiful part of the world.

Alyssa Kritsch
Alyssa Kritsch moderator

@CharlieFunk In some cases, planning a vacation from scratch can be a very rewarding process. The article seeks to highlight this very fact -- and for those up for the challenge, it's simply a couple interesting options to consider.


Thanks for your comment!

Alyssa Kritsch
Alyssa Kritsch moderator

@YourCruiseAdvisor 
I hope you get a chance to read through the entire article, as it solely highlights different social networking platforms that can be used for your travel planning. Perhaps the first sentence mislead you -- I can see how and I will amend the use of the word 'cost'.

For those interested, the article presents some ways you can get yourself a little more enlightened before visiting the travel agent. Or even empowered enough to plan a mini vacation on your own -- a process that can be very rewarding for DIYers.

Thank you for your comment.

Alyssa Kritsch
Alyssa Kritsch moderator

Sharon, you are completely correct! There is no denying the fact that trip planning is a laborious task and for those who don't have the time , good travel agents are absolutely amazing. 

But, in some cases, planning a vacation from scratch can be a very rewarding process. The article seeks to highlight this very fact -- and for those up for the challenge, it's simply a couple interesting options to consider.

Thanks for your comment!

Alyssa Kritsch
Alyssa Kritsch moderator

If you read through the article, you will see that it is highlighting the ways in which individuals can use social media to educate themselves, by using information that was previously inaccessible. That is not to say against, or neither does it deny, the value of a travel agent. 

Instead, the article seeks to explore the ways in which, if you're up for the challenge, you could empower yourself to do the planning. 

Sometimes, there is simply a pure enjoyment in the travel planning process -- hence why many travel agents are so passionate about their jobs.