If you feel the urge to brag about upcoming travel plans, you’re not alone. After booking a trip, about 54 percent of U.S. travelers update social networks with related posts, according to a February 2013 PhoCusWright study of mobile travel trends.
And it’s not only your friends who are paying attention. Savvy travel companies monitor the social media buzz, occasionally rewarding vocal fans with improved customer service, special deals, and even thoughtful surprises.
“Sometimes guests will tell us on Twitter or Facebook that they’re coming for a special occasion—a honeymoon, birthday, or anniversary,” says Joe Capalbo, general manager of Kimpton’s Onyx Hotel in Boston. “That gives us an opportunity to create a memorable experience by surprising and delighting them when they’re here.”
But once you reach your destination, it can be challenging to find the balance between enjoying yourself in the moment and getting caught up in a flurry of tweets, Instagram photos, and other social media updates.
“Take the pictures in the moment and post them later,” suggests Travis Katz, cofounder and CEO of Gogobot, a social travel network. “I spent Memorial Day weekend in Big Sur. There was no signal, so I couldn’t post anything. I snapped photos, and I got to watch the sunset without live blogging. It was fantastic. When I got back to civilization, I relived the moment [when I shared the photos].”
A little pre-trip preparation can also help you sift through the endless stream of information without feeling overwhelmed. For instance, take a few minutes to add the Twitter handles of your airline, hotel, and destination’s tourism board. Local bloggers can also help introduce you to restaurants and activities; don’t be shy to ask. While email requests are easily ignored, a direct message or comment via social media can be a great way to flag someone’s attention for input.
Even if you’re not a power user of Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, you can still tap into these social networks and benefit from the crowd-sourced suggestions. And with the ability to share as much (or as little) as you want from your own trip, your social media updates could help the next traveler plan his or her upcoming vacation.
Now that’s good travel karma.