Facebook travel chief dismisses talk of 'fatigue'

Facebook travel chief dismisses talk of 'fatigue'

Facebook's head of travel has dismissed claims the social media giant is suffering user 'fatigue'.

Lee McCabe, Facebook global head of travel, told a Travel Weekly Business Breakfast in London yesterday: "Most of these stories [of Facebook fatigue] are anecdotal or stem from surveys with a small sample size."

McCabe was responding to a report last week from the World Tourism Forum in Lucerne where PhoCusWright principal analyst Carroll Rheem said: "Facebook fatigue is beginning to show in certain markets."

He insisted: "Social media is still in its infancy. It's human nature that people want to share. We look at social media as different to the internet now. But the way the internet is evolving, it will be social."

However, McCabe said many travel companies were struggling to make the most of Facebook.

He told the invited audience: "We've come a long way in the past three years and we're innovating incredibly fast. For the industry it is confusing.

"There are a lot of mistakes being made - companies trying to run before they can walk.

"Companies think Facebook is all about 'likes'. You see them racing to get likes for competitions or loyalty programmes, but there is no brand affinity, just random connections."

McCabe appeared alongside Expedia senior vice-president of retail Gary Morrison who said: "Facebook is extremely interesting for us on a mass of levels and we look forward to developing an ever deeper relationship."

However, he said: "Facebook is very much in incubation mode in terms of traffic generation. I reserve judgment on whether Facebook will be 30% of our business or 3%. I don't know."

The pair agreed on the need for endless innovation. Morrison said: "You have to make innovation part of your business strategy."

Yet they also agreed travel agents would retain a place in distribution, although Morrison suggested it could be "a niche".

McCabe said: "There will always be a place for travel agents. There is a long life ahead for them. Online travel booking is still not mature."

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