Small high street agencies are ideally placed to compete with travel giants on social media because of their authenticity.

A Travolution Business Breakfast, hosted by Facebook, was held on the first morning of the annual Travel Technology Europe trade show in London last month.

A panel of experts told more than 100 delegates heard how social media is evolving as a platform to drive bookings, not just build brand awareness.

Nick Cooper, the newly appointed UK head at deals publisher HolidayPirates, said local firms have an advantage  because authenticity is a vital attribute on social media.

MoreSpecial Report: Firms urged to get handle on all social channels

“High street agencies in villages already have the authenticity and relevance, therefore it’s easy for them to make the transition into Facebook or social,” he said.

“They are engaging with their local community, and consumers  might already know them. They might have their physical shop window – now they have another shop window, on social [media].”

“Being successful isn’t just about posting stuff. You have to have that authentic voice, and smaller brands are ideally suited to capitalise on that because they can grow up with social.”

Allison Busacca, travel product marketing lead at Facebook, said firms do not necessarily need huge budgets to use the social network or Instagram, which it owns.

She revealed that of the 75 million businesses on Facebook and 25 million on Instagram, there are six million advertisers on the former and two million on the latter.

“That shows there’s a ton of business value regardless of whether or not paid tools come into play,” she said. “Smaller businesses sometimes feel they are under-resourced,  but they can also be a lot more nimble.”

Nena Chaletzos, founder and chief executive of luxury online agency Luxtripper, said: “If you’re a big brand you’ve got to try to remove your brand altogether and connect with users personally, so it is definitely easier for smaller brands.”

MoreSpecial Report: Firms urged to get handle on all social channels