Making money out of social networking sites remains a challenge for the travel industry, industry bosses have admitted.

Speaking at the EyeforTravel Travel Distribution Summit in London last week, lastminute.com chief executive Ian McCaig said users of social networking sites were often irritated by adverts.

“If you advertise when someone is interacting with friends and family on Facebook, you are not addressing someone who wants to buy. Social networking is an opportunity to make money, but a heavy handed approach will fail.”

Google UK head of travel Daniel Robb said social media is a good opportunity for companies to understand their customers better.

“Groups are set up to praise or criticise companies all the time. This is very valuable feedback and gives you the chance for a right of reply.

“People in networks inspire each other to travel, but the challenge for travel companies is how to piggyback on these conversations.”