Social media is expected to feature strongly in marketing budgets across the travel industry in 2011, with online display likely to be the channel missing out.
The results of a wide-ranging survey conducted by digital content specialist Frommers - in conjunction with Tnooz - found that almost two-thirds of travel companies are planning on increasing marketing spend in areas of social media next year.
This is the second year in a row that social media has captured the attention of marketers in areas as diverse as hotels and hospitality, travel agencies, operators and consolidators, airlines, tourist offices, car rental, rail, and cruise.
General travel content and mobile marketing are also expected to see a boost in spend, with budgets increasing by 63% and 50% respectively.
Overall it appears that every marketing channel is likely to get an increase in 2011. At the lower end of the budget increase scale, around a third of companies say they will up online display advertising budgets, but the channel is also the most likely to see a decrease as 13% say they will cut spend.
Across all channels, 70% say they will increase online marketing budgets, 23% say budgets will remain the same, 7% are predicting a fall.
Elsewhere in the survey, almost half (47%) say the current average cost per visitor is under $1. Just 2% say the average cost is over $10 while 38% are paying between $1 and $5.
Looking forward again to 2011, mobile looks to be the biggest beneficiary of where travel companies will spend budgets on digital content.
The survey found an increase of 114% from 2009 to 2010 on mobile app content, with mobile web grabbing 98%. The only other channel to come close is video content at 59%.
Search engine optimisation, product description an unique web content are likely to be the three with the least increase year-on-year at 7%, 15% and 16% respectively.
But despite the lower focus of attention of search engine optimisation, attracting search engine traffic is the top priority among a third of travel companies for adding travel content to a site.
Increasing conversions and building brand were two other main reasons for companies to focus on additional content.
Finally, two-thirds of companies say the biggest challenge they face with online content is keeping it up-to-date and accurate. Almost half (47%) cite brand consistency issues, while 37% mention problems with third party providers as a cause for concern.
NB:Full report from Frommers.
NB2: The survey was carried out in over the course of a week in late-October 2010, featuring 325 responses from across the travel industry.