Teletext Holidays surveyed 3000 British travelers and discovered an interesting change in the landscape of travel. Nearly 20% of the people surveyed had booked a vacation due to what they had seen from their friends on Facebook. Of these, 13% had booked identical vacations after seeing photos posted, and another 6% booked based merely on a status update. Word of mouth advertising has long been the most trusted. Social networking sites have made it much easier for word of mouth to get around, especially in pictures. When a large group of friends went to Disney World a few months ago, I immediately started dreaming of taking my family – something I had previously felt would never be a desired vacation for us. Part of this is due to the eye catching views posted from hotel rooms, landmarks, attractions, or even restaurants. Although we all have access to those types of photos by visiting tourist websites, seeing people you know in those settings seems to make these vacations much more desirable and obtainable. Another factor in this is the play-by-play type of story-telling that occurs with the combination of smart phones and social networking. Not so long ago, friends would leave for a vacation and there would be little to no communication from them while they were away. Upon returning, they would have stacks of pictures to share and a few hours of stories. This didn’t have quite the same impact as how we now experience our friends’ stories via Facebook. It usually starts with a family photo near the mode of transportation, and those of us who remain behind may experience a slight pang of jealousy as we watch our friends bound for fun while we continue on with our normal lives. But the envy increases when they start posting pictures every few hours of the fun they are having, the beautiful scenes, the amazing place they are staying, and the fantastic food. Vacation stories are far more interesting when they are brought forward bit by bit in real time, and we start to think about how we can get ourselves into photos like that. The survey showed that the 13% of those who chose a vacation because of photos booked a similar vacation to one they had seen on Facebook. This rings true to me after changing my own mind about a Disney vacation. It was much more attractive viewing it from the eyes of my friends rather than from a travel brochure. For those in the travel industry, the advantages of social networking are many. Provide an experience guests want to talk about and an easy way for them to do so, and your guests will do the marketing for you.