The Social Strategy of OTAs in LatAm: Despegar, Expedia, Booking.com…

What: OTAs take advantage of social networks to motivate their followers to travel around the world and, finally, acquire products through their sites. How Despegar, Expedia Booking.com and others are taking advantage of the opportunity.
Why It Matters: According to Phocuswright, 30% of travelers use social networks to search for promotions. This makes digital platforms the perfect allies for OTAs.

Three out of four travelers recur to social networks to search for information, products and services for their trips, and 30% search, specifically, travel promotions, according to a study conducted by Phocuswright.

Online travel agencies create their Facebook and Twitter social media accounts to transmit experiences that inspire others to travel.

Maria Aguayo

María Aguayo, marketing manager at Expedia.mx

"A trip doesn't start when you purchase it. A  trip begins when you imagine it, when you see an image that inspires you, when you are motivated to share time with family or friends. In reality, there is always a before, during and after, and through social media, we can accompany consumers in the entire process, whether it's inspiring with an article on our blog, or inspiring them to dream with a picture of scenery, giving them tips on our promotions, facilitating their purchases with our tools and sharing their travel experiences," explains María Aguayo, marketing manager for Expedia LatAm & Mexico.

To Expedia.mx, each social network has a specific objective and reason for which it has decided to dive into the Internet, first with Facebook and Twitter.

"We want to understand how our consumers interact with us, to be able to respond to their expectations and generate value. I believe that when you respond to their expectations and generate value, and when you enter a social network without clear objectives, you can become a part of the scenery very quickly," says Aguayo.

Social networks have proven to be valuable tools for maintaining communication with audiences, promoting your company and generating leads, but it's important to highlight that they can also be used as mechanisms for direct sales.

cynthia evans

Cynthia Evans, directora de Insights GroupM Latinoamérica.

"Despegar has built a great Facebook community. It has videos from charming places to visit, posted by both the community and company. This is a great meeting place for sharing experiences that bring you to their website.

Booking.com, on the other hand, uses Facebook as a type of application where participants can search for travel options directly. They have different objectives and execution strategies," says Cynthia Evans, the insight director at GrupoM Latin America.

Furthermore, the information collected through social media plays a very important role in achieving strategic objectives like client satisfaction or increasing reservations.

Social Networks can also be used as mechanisms for direct sales.

>What's important to keep in mind is that having a presence on social networks is not an objective in itself, and that you need a strategy behind it that is measurable. Metrics will vary according to objectives. For example, the number of visits, newsletter subscriptions, leads or friends.

According to Martín Solar, marketing director at the World Independent Hotel Promotion (WIHP), you have to consider investing in social media a long-term project that builds communities and exchanges experiences.


Ximena Cassab @xcassab

Ximena is a Swiss-Mexican journalist based in Mexico City where she specialized in business, and travel topics. Graduated from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), she has worked as an editor at the magazines Expansión , Aire and Accent, from Expansion Group. Currently she is working with different media in Spanish and English independently. She is a passionate traveler who does not miss the opportunity to see a new place in the world.

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