Social media is one of the travel industry’s biggest opportunities over the next five years, yet only a third of UK holidaymakers used it to research holidays this year, according to a WTM poll.

The results of WTM’s 2010 Industry Report, revealed during a seminar at the show yesterday, found that 64% of holidaymakers did not refer to sites such as Facebook, Twitter, TripAdvisor and YouTube to help book their trips this year.
For the 36% who did use social media sites, TripAdvisor was the most popular, with 66% consulting the site. Meanwhile, 34% referred to Facebook, 21% looked at YouTube and 17% at Twitter.

The survey of 1,000 consumers also showed travel and tourism chat rooms attracted 28% of social media users, compared with blogs, which accounted for 9%.

The research also found that 42% of social media users booked their original choice after looking at sites such as TripAdvisor but 35% swtiched their hotel as a result, 15% changed the travel agent or tour operator, and 12% decided to visit a different country altogether.

For 2011, 48% said they would not refer to social media when booking a holiday next year, while 24% said they would and 28% were still undecided.