There was a telling interview in Skift with Facebook’s Head of Travel, Christine Warner, that illustrates just how ambitious the company is getting about travel.
Interestingly, Warner described Facebook as a “discovery platform” and Instagram as “a place for inspiration”—terms that Google uses in its own “micro-moments” language. While these phrases are now widely used by industry marketers, its use by Facebook’s own Head of Travel takes on added meaning.
At the very least, it hints at an awareness of the company’s specific strengths in the travel journey, and how it might seek to compete with Google in the early stages before planning and research take place.
Whatever the intent, it’s clear that Facebook has the potential to be a major travel industry platform in its own right, and it’s starting to offer an array of marketing and direct booking opportunities for hotels.
Facebook’s expansion into travel
At the end of last year, Facebook launched a new “Recommendations” tool to help users discover new experiences, things to do, events, and services based on suggestions from their friends. While not specifically designed for travel, we discussed how this feature certainly has potential as a new channel for hotel bookings.
More tellingly, Facebook recently announced the soft launch of a trip planning tool within the Facebook app, called City Guides. The app can be used to discover hotels, restaurants, activities and tours in various cities based on recommendations from friends. A list of “Places the Locals Go” also pulls together popular spots worth checking out.
Facebook’s City Guides plays on its main advantage: offering recommendations based on the user’s social network.
As well as functioning as a planning tool, City Guides has a “Book Now” button, which is currently being used by a limited number of restaurants and hotels. But other hotels, restaurants, attractions and tours can all be messaged or called directly through the app.
City Guides will almost certainly drive more traffic to Facebook early in the inspiration phrase of travel, representing one of a number of exciting opportunities for hotel marketers.