The Unfiltered Truth: Does Instagram Hold Power Over Youth Travel Habits?
Aim: The aim of this study was to identify whether the social media platform ‘Instagram’ has an influence on young consumers during the decision-making process of making travel plans or choosing a destination. Background: A review of the surrounding literature of this topic revealed that the rate of social media and technological advancements within the past decade have been vast environment (Kaplan and Haenlein 2010; Abdullatif 2017; Dhingra and Mudgal 2019). Consumers are increasingly turning to social media platforms for the tools to do information searches for their next travel or holiday rather than utilising the traditional methods of travel booking such as tourism operators and travel brochures. However interestingly, Swarbrooke and Horner (2007) find that consumers are still reliant on friends and family recommendations due to the trustworthiness of the source. The literature also provided insight to destination management organisations and found their presence online to promote their destination is not being used to its full potential as an advertisement method to consumers (Benedek 2018). What is still uncertain is how much of an influence does Instagram have on consumer’s decision to travel to a specific destination, and if so, which factors and aspects are important to view. Methodology: To obtain insight into consumer attitudes, motivations and patterns formed, an online survey was implemented using a quantitative approach. The online survey was published on the author’s personal Instagram account, administered using non-probability quota sampling as the criteria for the participants consisted of: being within the 18-28 age bracket; having an active Instagram account; and lastly, to live in the location of Scotland. Findings: The findings established that participants heavily relied on Instagram for visual content throughout the decision-making process in relation to destination pictures, activity ideas and restaurants. However, participants showed a high preference for family and friend’s recommendations over influencer and celebrity content on Instagram. It was further found that consumers admit Instagram has a large influence on their travel planning and destination choice, yet utilised multiple sources amidst the information search such as E- word of mouth site ‘TripAdvisor’ for real life traveller’s experiences. Conclusions and Recommendation: The three following research aims were accomplished throughout this dissertation: ●The exploration of factors and visual aspects that are important to a consumer when travel planning and making a destination choice. ●To provide a deeper understanding of Instagram as a potential marketing place for travel related consumers. ●To identify the perceptions of 18–28 year-olds that inspire consumers to travel due to what they view online. For future research, the author provided a theoretical recommendation to avoid large demographic differences by publishing the online survey through a different channel. The researcher’s personal Instagram account had a majority of female followers, thus the large number of female participants. The researcher also recommended the study be investigated through a qualitative approach through interviews, allowing more depth into consumer decision making processes when booking travel plans. The practical recommendation provided from the researcher is to enhance the destination management organisation’s social media marketing strategies to take full advantage of the marketing opportunity Instagram presents for destinations and the tourism industry to flourish in a younger generation, where technology has a big influence on everyday purchase decisions.