Are Selfies Changing Why We Travel?

Filed Under: Media

Skift published an interesting article yesterday, entitled “Selfies Are Changing The Fundamental Reasons Why We Travel.”

The conclusion is basically that many travelers care just as much about how they can utilize a trip for social media as they care about the trip itself.

I don’t think the article comes to any surprising conclusions, though it does concisely sum up a major trend in travel, and something travel providers should be catering towards:

The rise of social media is creating a new breed of travelers for whom the ability to instantly publicize their trip is as important as the experience itself.

So-called “social-capital seekers” increasingly structure travel with online followers in mind and aim to document it instantly via Facebook Inc., blogs, Twitter or “selfie” photos on Instagram Inc., the Future Foundation report for booking system specialist Amadeus IT Holding SA said on Thursday, predicting the “appetite will be ravenous for moments of shareable wish-fulfillment.”

As the ranks of the social network-savvy armed with smartphones impaled on selfie-sticks proliferate, people increasingly target trips that offer the greatest social returns, while destinations that lack crowd-sourced cachet — or the vital Wi-Fi connectivity — risk being shunned. Benefits of digitally documented trips include basking in adulation “like a rock star returning from a world tour,” Amadeus said.

“We can foresee a market for ‘clout-boosting breaks’ filled with consciously feed-friendly moments designed to help users top-up their network influence,” the study said. “A holiday is not entirely one’s own: it is made for sharing.”

Check out the entire article. It’s certainly true for me, though admittedly I’m not representative of the average consumer, since I “do” this for a living.

Does social media impact the way you travel?

  1. This is only surprising to you because you enjoy travel and almost everyone in your circle enjoys it as well. I think you would be surprised at how many people do NOT enjoy travel. They just enjoy the bragging rights. Back in the day, a person could simply spin a story in a bar and who could prove it didn’t happen? But now you’d better have the Instagram to back up any wild tales of exotic adventures.

    I don’t think the selfie has changed travel so much as it has forced people who need to keep up with the Joneses to do some traveling they otherwise wouldn’t bother with. I can’t believe that there are REALLY millions of grown men who are all that interested in visiting cathedrals, say, yet those places are always packed because they make a good photo.

  2. I wouldn’t say social media greatly effects how I travel (however we have been known to selfie on the plane, or at points of significant interest) What does irritate the hell out of me is the proliferation of the selfie stick ( or “narcissis-stick”!!!) – they’re everywhere and completely annoying!!!

  3. I have been a traveler for longer than Lucky has been alive. But….. I have lately been thinking about my status update on an important milestone….. Like literally spending too much time thinking about my “epic” upd8. This is dumb! I definitely don’t travel to keep up. I can’t compete with Lucky anyway and I travel more than my real friends. 🙂

  4. Two thoughts, and they are simple ones:

    1). While the world hates on selfie sticks, I view them as a God-send: for my husband, our wonderfully intrepid only- child son and myself, the stick is the only way in many places we have a FAMILY pic – a very good thing.

    2). Travel widens the mind and sturdies the soul. The best possible investment.

  5. The stick isn’t the “only” way to take a family photo. How about meeting some new friends on your travels and have them take the family photo for you. It’s a much better way to widen your mind. BTW, I don’t hate “on” selfie sticks, I hate selfie sticks.

  6. Try waiting around for someone to take your family photo on a remote hike (or lugging a tripod). While you can certainly ask in some locations, it’s not feasible in others. Also, in many cultures, it’s considered rude to impose on someone and ask them to take your photo… And while they may oblige, it may only be a polite reaction to an impolite request.

  7. At buckingham Palace last week past, many used them to document the changing of the guard, which is a good idea, as they are small and dont really block other peoples view that much. But they can be dangerous, want hit in the face by a photographer? 😛

  8. I’m 20 years old, and I feel I’m very much a part of the “selfie generation”.

    I have facebook, plus I follow three, like, people (?) on twitter; your blog, my university and my parents’ business. I’ve never tweeted anything, and I don’t have Instagram/Snapchat/Tumblr/Vimeo/Flickr/Foursquare/whatever. There’s a single selfie of mine to be found on facebook which I used as a profile pic quite some time ago. That’s it. And I’ve never sent one to anyone.

    Frankly, I don’t take a lot of photos at all. I like to enjoy the moment, and I’ve never felt the urge for looking at the few photos I have from past holidays or events in general.

    I don’t even doubt they are right, but me, personally, I don’t feel like I’m an example.

  9. This problem has been around long before selfie sticks and social media. I call it “tick a box tourism” – a madness where people travel just to say or show they have travelled to so and so a place, or on so and so form/class of transport, etc. They don’t really care or aren’t very interested in where or how they travel to, just the saying or showing that they have. It’s a weird form of narcissism and one-upping the Jones’.

    Usually the sort that loudly say “Oh you must do the Great Wall – we did it last year” or something similar. Twenty or Thirty years ago, these are the people who used to trap people to in order to subject them to hours long slide shows.

  10. Oh, @jackson, lighten up. Interesting you assume families all follow the same tourist runs. Just within this calendar year our family and stunning vistas in Macedonia, Taiwan, and Patagonia were captured thanks to our selfie stick. Not another soul to be seen. Blissful and stellar memories to reflect upon.

  11. @Maggie, maybe that’s because you sound like the prototypical self-absorbed tourist. Hint: Maybe you should stop bragging about yourself and about how much better you are than others.

  12. From reading the article, one item that didn’t surprise me was that “individuals with the biggest followings will demand rewards for online endorsements, whether in terms of upgrades, discounts, cash refunds, reduced duty-free prices or “VIP services.” I found it amusing how the article worded it as a “demand” from social-capital seekers. 😉

    I think the selfie stick has been around for ages in the form of a tripod/gorillapod & it’s a great way to share the memory with friends and family back home. I think social media is a great tool to share your experiences with friends & family back home and to let them know you’re OK. As for me, I only upload photos on FB and only my friends have access to them. I’ll admit though that I avoid liking or commenting on friends’ FB statuses or photos that are shared with the Public since I doubt my friends want to see that listed in their news feeds.

  13. I’d like to think that most people aren’t mindless, vacuous, insecure, narcissistic morons…

    I don’t feel the need to document my every move, whether or not it is travel related, and am not so insecure that I feel the need to keep up with the Joneses or want to make them feel that they need to keep up with me.

    I choose my travel destinations because they are of interest to me, and I really don’t need the approval of others to validate my choices.

    As for the comment above, re: millions of adults visiting cathedrals … Uh … I don’t even share the faith of the worshipers, but I can appreciate the artistic and faithful achievement of those who constructed the edifices. Many are monumentally beautiful, particularly when placed in historical context.

    There is both man made and natural beauty all over the world, and these provide inspiration and reason for travel for many.

  14. Who cares? If people just want to travel to put up photos on Instagram, let them. That doesn’t make their travel experience than anyone else who hiked on a glacier. This is just another in a long series of articles that attempts to judge people for how they spend their money and time by trying to claim it isn’t valid.

  15. @Christian Am I missing something? Where did Maggie brag about herself or say she was better than others? She just pointed out that the places she’s been are less-touristed and therefore a selfie stick is more useful.

  16. Thanks, @Bob. That was certainly my intent, though clearly for some the impact was quite different. Time to take a break from this circle and return as spectator-only! 🙂

  17. @Lucky Just wondering if you can write an article about flagship hotel for each brand. I know there are many people out there want to experience different brands.
    I have already heard flagship hotel for these brands:
    InterContinental: Hong Kong, San Francisco
    Waldorf Astoria: New York
    Park Hyatt: Tokyo
    St. Regis: Bora Bora, Lhasa
    Shangri-La: London

    But what about other brands? For example like flagship Westin hotel, flagship Ritz hotels, flagship W hotels?
    I used to thought all hotels under the same brand shouldn’t have too much difference, but later i found I was totally wrong, the flagship InterContinental,St. Regis are so much better than regular ones. Flagship ones are usually best in that region,….

  18. He makes a point, however, lets be real. Is social media influencing the way we travel? Absolutely, but they do so in the way that one’s travels may inspire others to travel as well. Do some do it *just* for the selfies (and other pictures), probably, but the key here is “some”. The number of people who do that is certainly a minuscule percentage compared to the number of other reasons why people travel.

    Travel fills people up with memories and experiences. Social media is influencing people to do things for the better, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

  19. I’ve been a big traveler for a few years, and I have noticed that people are seriously disappointed if I haven’t been somewhere. It’s supremely annoying, and I have to admit that at some level it perpetuates more travel. I don’t share pictures, do selfies, etc but it has become so much of my social identity. I dislike this. I’ve considered traveling and lying to say I haven’t. Among certain people it also feels like bragging, which I’m not inclined to do. I certainly agree that people put themselves on display in this way, but also acknowledge that it can be a friendly engagement, and better than talking about a TV show. That said, it’s also discouraging that people tend to want a summary, or want the photo-op, or even want to experience jealousy — and most aren’t really interested in any wisdom, or substance that could be gleaned.

  20. I’m somewhat on the fence with this one, I’m 18 but personally I don’t like taking selfies of myself, I find it uncomfortable however, I don’t mind having any problem having selfies with others, probably as I’m not the one taking the photo.
    The pertinent question, are selfies changing why we travel? I somewhat have to agree, in my opinion I see some people taking photos of themselves a lot whilst on holiday and posting it on either Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. I have nothing against it, it shows that they are having a good time but at the same, shouldn’t a holiday be the experience of visiting somewhere new or going to a place that you enjoy going.
    I’ve been travelling up and down my native UK from a young age and more recently Europe, the only thing I tend to share online is planes on Flickr, however I don’t often share photos on sites like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

  21. Just jumping in to support Maggie’s comment as well! As a mom of two young kids I have so many pictures of the kids and so few pictures of me with the kids or of our entire family. I am always the photographer and it is so hard to be IN the picture unless you take a selfie. We have asked other people to take our picture, but half of the time they turn out terribly because the kids aren’t looking at the camera, etc. Plus a stranger doesn’t usually want to take multiple photos for you just to get a decent one!

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