Social media is fundamentally changing the way we find, read and trust information as well as collaboratively produce information about tourism suppliers and tourism destinations.
Gone are the days when people turned only to glossy brochures and other marketing materials to make their travel decisions.
This phenomenon is addressed in the new book Social Media in Travel, Tourism and Hospitality by a social media and tourism research expert at the University of Wollongong (UOW).
Ulrike Gretzel from the Institute for Innovation in Business and Social Research (IIBSoR) at UOW has co-edited the book with Marianna Sigala and Evangelos Christou from Europe, known for their expertise in technology and tourism.
"We are challenging industry professionals and academics to consider how the quickly emerging online communities are shaping our future," Gretzel said.
"Just look at the impact of one single forum - TripAdvisor, which has more than 41 million users a month world-wide."
By presenting cutting-edge theory, research and case studies, readers will get an in-depth understanding of current practices and future perspectives, helping them assess the implications for their own businesses. The different chapters provide a global perspective through its European, North American, Asian and Australian authors, both through the eyes of the practitioner and the academic.
The book addresses the rapidly developing Web 2.0 phenomenon and its impact on the industry and how it has changed the role and behaviour of a new generation of travellers - ultimately challenging existing customer service, marketing and promotional processes throughout the tourism and hospitality sector.
"The increasing importance of social media has made it a strategic necessity for the tourism industry to learn the ins and outs of the medium," Ulrike said.
"To stay competitive businesses need to manage the expectations of travellers."
Social Media in Travel, Tourism and Hospitality is the first book to address the impact of social media on the tourism industry from an overall and holistic perspective, providing invaluable insights to businesses and academics in one single place.