‘TikTokation’: How Social Media is Shaping Travel Decisions

A passenger in an airport terminal watches an aircraft take off.
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Are TikTok and Instagram the new Lonely Planets? Flighthub data reveals Millennials and Generation Z’s travels are now likely to be organized through and for social media.  

Over four-in-ten Canadian Gen Z admit to visiting destinations solely for social media, according to the Flighthub survey.

For generations, travel planning revolved around guidebooks, travel brochures, and recommendations from trusted friends and family.

Today, however, a new player has entered the scene: social media. Platforms like Instagram and TikTok are awash with stunning travel imagery, influencing where we go, what we do, and even why we travel in the first place.

A recent FlightHub survey of 2,000 Canadians underscores this shift. While friends and family remain the top source of inspiration overall (67%), social media is playing an increasingly significant role, especially for younger generations.

FlightHub™ is a leading North American online travel agency (OTA) based in Montreal, Canada.

A whopping 66% of Canadians now turn to social media to discover vacation activities, and a surprising number prioritize destinations based on their “social media potential.”

Passengers in an airport departures terminal.
Photo Credit: Adrian Agawin via Pexels

The Rise of the “Insta-worthy” Destination

The survey reveals a clear generational divide when it comes to social media’s influence. Millennials and Gen Z travelers are most likely to base their travel decisions on capturing the perfect social media moment.

Nearly 38% of Millennials and 35% of Gen Z respondents admitted to choosing entire destinations based on the pictures they could post.

This trend extends to activities as well, with around 40% of both age groups prioritizing social media-worthy experiences.

This focus on creating envy-inducing content is also interesting. The survey suggests that nearly 40% of Millennials and Gen Z travelers choose destinations, at least in part, to make their friends and acquaintances envious.

This compares to a much lower percentage among Baby Boomers (9%) and Generation X (24%).

A passenger walks to the airport terminal.
Photo Credit: Oleksandr Pidvalnyi via Pexels

Finding Inspiration in the Digital Age

Despite the rise of social media, traditional sources of inspiration haven’t entirely faded away. Travel blogs remain a popular choice, with 42% of Canadians citing them as a source of inspiration.

This is particularly true for older generations. A resounding 70% of Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Gen Z rely on friends and family for destination ideas, compared to 60% of Millennials.

This suggests a growing openness to digital influences among younger demographics.

A man works on a laptop in an airport terminal
Photo Credit: Oleksandr Pidvalnyi via Pexels

Striking a Balance: Spontaneity and Must-Sees

Thankfully, the allure of the unexpected hasn’t been lost in the age of social media. The FlightHub survey shows that Canadians still value spontaneity and unique experiences.

A remarkable 90% of respondents enjoy encountering unexpected adventures while traveling, and 72% actively seek out novel experiences.

There’s also still room for classic tourist attractions, with 90% admitting to enjoying at least one on each trip.

This highlights a desire for balance – a blend of social media-inspired exploration with the time-tested joys of traditional travel experiences.

The Future of Travel: A Social Media Landscape

Social media’s influence on travel is undeniable. It provides a platform for inspiration, a visual guide to hidden gems, and a way to share experiences with the world.

However, it’s important to remember that travel is, at its core, about personal exploration and growth. While social media can be a valuable tool, it shouldn’t dictate every aspect of your trip.

So, the next time you’re planning a vacation, consider this: are you chasing breathtaking landscapes or breathtaking likes?

Use online social platforms for inspiration, but don’t be afraid to deviate from the curated feed. Embrace the unexpected, seek out unique experiences, and capture memories that resonate with you, not just your followers.

After all, the most enriching travel experiences are often the ones that defy expectations and leave you with a story to tell, not just a photo to post.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
5 Min Read
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