With COVID gradually fading into the background, the globe is ready to pick up where it left off, to finally take that overdue vacation, and to adapt to a new normal in travel by reviving their dormant travel bucket lists and dusting off their passports. How has travel altered since 2019 is the biggest question. “The development and adoption of “social commerce” in the new normal must be the most revolutionary,” says Saurabh Bhatnagar Co-founder, Alike.io. Although there have been many changes since 2019 and so on with both good and bad impacts. Although the idea of social commerce is not new, the business models and tools that support travel makers are now receiving the attention they deserve, and the uptake of creative solutions will help the creator economy” he added.
Since social commerce is already transforming the fashion, culinary, and lifestyle industries, it is about time that its influence is felt throughout the whole travel ecosystem, including tours, customized itineraries, luxurious experiences, and last-mile fulfillment of reservations.
Brands, influencers, and individuals (unaffiliated with any business) have long been a part of the social media landscape, promoting travel and sharing envious images and tales of the next ideal itinerary. How can producers share and profit from these holidays is the key question? Is the travel industry really open to commerce?
“A controversial point of view claims that a social media like or share should not be considered a social commerce measure but rather a marketing goal. The genuine metric for a transaction that completes the buying cycle should reflect social commerce, which assumes that the transaction was actually completed (i.e., a purchase occurred). From first product or service discovery on social media through final payment made on the same storefront, Unfortunately, research shows that social commerce’s transactional components are where things frequently go wrong. The contest to lead social commerce is a party that is just getting started, with social commerce revenues predicted to increase from 492B in 2021 to 1.5T in 2025,” he further added in the statement.
Challenges faced by today’s traveler
The average traveler of today suffers from information overload. Going on vacation should be enjoyable rather than a stressful activity where one ends up reading up to 38 websites, scouring social media for the ideal trip, or hopping between numerous platforms in search of discounts and offers to create the ideal schedule. If this seems like a difficult undertaking, keep in mind that not everyone enjoys or can afford using professional travel planners. What then is the answer that will have an impact on the paradigm shift that the travel industry seeks? The community must provide the solution.
“Simply put, the one challenge that stands out is that we are all spoilt for choice, and FOMO among travelers is a well-documented fact.” Perhaps social commerce is the next best bet, where the community generates fancy AI-based itineraries and pre-made OTA (Online Vacation Agencies) trip ideas to deliver what the company wants: a hassle-free travel experience from the outset according to Saurabh.
A seamless look-to-book experience platform is urgently needed.
A platform that enables the creation and customization of bookable experiences and provides a smooth look-to-book experience for both travelers and travel creators is required. The purpose of social commerce is achieved by allowing users to browse reviews, offers, and stories, access itineraries and travel advisories, and book hotels and cabs all from a single storefront.
Many companies have made the planning process a whole lot easier by enabling digital purchases of products, but do they help you plan? Yes, you might find a bouquet of itineraries but then they are cookie cut. Is that enough?
Bhatnagar said “With over 4.5Bn people in this world – that is a lot of geographies, preferences, tastes, styles to cater to and the jury is still out on whether consumers are happy with the current scenario.”
Social Commerce eco-systems
The key lies with a Social Commerce ecosystem. Powered by the creativity and ingenuity of the individuals and to an extent brands, turbo-charged by the facility of the platforms, social intervention can help in solve these challenges, by delivering for the customer the power to browse travel content shared by individual creators, select the foremost relevant experiences per their tastes and make the bookings and payments on one platform.
“With consumers at the guts of this strategy, social commerce gives the ability back to the community. Now, by means of various engagement vectors like content (personal itineraries), experiences (live streaming etc), and referrals (friendly advocacy) all individuals can contribute. Rather than one or two brands and influencers selling/ advocating to the millions we now have a setup to enable the millions to sell to the millions within an ecosystem and thus democratize information, sharing of experiences and customer access. Social commerce is enabled in today’s world. In every industry, there is impact of social commence. As we look around, we will be able to see that “we all revolve around the social commence bond” not only in the travel industry but also in every single industry. Although if we see, the social commerce industry in India is expected to grow by 71.5% on an annual basis to reach US$8, 258.8 million in 2022. The social commerce industry is expected to grow steadily over the forecast period, recording a CAGR of 62.4% during 2022-2028” he added.
1. Tech Behind the scenes: to form a very integrated social travel experience, platforms require technology to retrieve and transmit content to and from multiple sources like social media channels, travel blogs, service providers, booking sites and payment gateways. Accordingly, social travel commerce platforms have to function as aggregators. This integrated process is delivered to life by leveraging technologies like social media analytics, CRM, recommendation engine, content retrieval, itinerary managers, e-commerce engine and specifically the inventory/ tickets of the attractions. So, while the traveler experiences a seamless and integrated view, a massive amount of labor takes place behind the scenes to form everything.
2. Power to the Community: In absence of an integrated social travel platform, the user hops from one platform to a different throughout the booking cycle, losing interest and valuable time. However, within the case of a unified look-to-book experience, the whole travel experience is streamlined. Additionally, social commerce in travel democratizes the travel industry, enabling large and little brands further as individuals to achieve an enormous audience that was once unavailable to them.
3. As always, what’s the underside Line? Social commerce in travel may be a revolutionary force capable of making an interdependent ecosystem that thrives on partnerships and new business models. Because the travel and hospitality industry pivots to social commerce, travelers can enjoy high-value interactions, time and value savings and a seamless user experience.