Throughout history, travel and tourism has depended on elements of word of mouth in order to accrete trust and confidence in the destination to which you are traveling. Given the expense, commitment and planning required while traveling, individuals as consumers yearn for external sources of validation when formulating a decision. Undoubtedly, in the mind of the consumer, the worst case scenario is making the decision to travel to a foreign location and arriving with tension and anxiety over whether or not the “correct” choice was made.
However, at what point does the individual attempt to branch out and actively seek situations while traveling that haven’t been delineated to them beforehand? Although national and or historic landmarks may be excluded from discussion, are experiences that have already been defined by our peers or references still as genuine if we follow after, in an attempt to recreate them? Personally, after reading the article “The Impact of Social Media on Travel and Tourism” from Adweek, my belief that social media does more harm than good for us as individuals was further validated. In many ways, broad recommendations from friends, family, and other external sources can actively help to satisfy our mental expectations as consumers. However, all else considered, photos from our friend’s vacations shouldn’t ultimately provide inspiration for our vacation choices; memories of others may seem like valid source of influence, but in reality, they may end up limiting the experiences from the pool of genuine outcomes that could have occurred instead.
Although I haven’t had the opportunity to travel out of Sydney yet (even during our upcoming week of break) when the opportunity does arise, it is likely that “Travel 2.0” could play a role in my travels. The setup involved in traveling, such as booking accommodations, excursions, or even meals in advance, are ultimately large decisions that require significant financial commitment, especially for a student on a budget. As mentioned before, there definitely is a sense of security in knowing that multiple people enjoyed and got their money’s worth at the place you are contemplating visiting. Yet, as Tripsavvy so perfectly lays out, “Life is short, and how much of it can you devote to reading about or watching” other people enjoying themselves (Sardone). For me, an internal struggle forms between practicality and my pre-existing beliefs; although the absolute scenario may be derived from the sheer excitement of discovery, the other scenario, disappointment and regret, may occur more often than I am willing to admit.
In a world where experiences and recommendations can be shared instantaneously on sites that many of us visit daily, if not hourly, it can be incredibly difficult to act individually and without constant influence of others. Additionally, not previously mentioned, is the constant “fear of missing out” encountered on social media, and also on Travel 2.0. It can be frustrating and saddening to see hundreds examples of people we are friends or acquainted with enjoying themselves when we are stuck without an outlet to do so. Actively watching and witnessing our friends create experiences and form memories takes away from our time when we could be improving ourselves, mentally, socially, and physically. In the future, I hope to make an honest attempt to try to travel without the constant connection and stimulation that can be accessed at a moments notice.
Sardine, Susan. “What Is Travel 2.0 and What Websites Use It to Guide Travelers.”