Social Media Use and Impact during Maldivian Travelers' Holiday Planning

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Ali Akram
Ahmed Shahid

Abstract

The objectives of this study were to explore how social media is used in travel planning by Maldivian tourists, and to discern the opportunities social media presents as a marketing medium to the Maldivian tourism industry, especially in the budget hotel and local tourism segment. The research findings showed that social media postings by friends were considered a very important source of information compared to traditional sources of advertising. Online ratings and reviews of hotels also influenced their decisions significantly. Additionally, respondents preferred content posted by consumers rather than by hoteliers. Therefore, social media remains a critical element for tourism marketing to a Maldivian audience, demonstrating the importance for hoteliers and marketers to use this medium to gauge their customers’ reactions to the services offered; to modify the services to meet the expectations of their customers; and also to reach a wider customer base cheaply and efficiently. As Maldivian social media users frequently post, and are willing to post photos/videos of their holiday experiences on multiple social networking websites, it gives opportunities for marketers to involve users and influencers to promote visual content on social networking sites. Maldivian travellers rely very little on information provided by hotels in their travel decision making. Hence, further investigation is required on how to improve the trustworthiness and credibility of information provided by budget hotels as well as how this information can be accurately corroborated by users.

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