HOW many of us have sought out the opinion of other travellers online before booking a holiday, hotel or destination?

More and more of people are doing it.

Now researchers at Bournemouth University are to host a cutting edge seminar on promoting tourism through social media.

The event on November 8 is being chaired by Professor Dimitrios Buhalis.

Academics and industry experts will examine the growing influence of social media on the travel and tourism sector and assess future possibilities.

Professor Buhalis said: “Social media is increasingly influencing consumer behaviour and communications in the marketplace.

Travellers will, more and more, rely on the advice of other travellers as against advertising, guidebooks and printed material.”

He said user generated content, like TripAdvisor, was rapidly growing as a factor in consumer decision making.

TripAdvisor in particular provides the largest online network demonstrating the key factors of satisfaction and dissatisfaction.

Professor Buhalis says marketers should use social media to try to “stimulate conversation and encourage interaction.

“This will have a direct impact on the reputation of a tourism organisation or destination and on their attractiveness and competitiveness.”

Professor Buhalis is the Director of the eTourism Lab at Bournemouth University’s internationally renowned School of Tourism. It is a world leader in tourism research and a leading provider of degree courses focused on environmental, economic, social and cultural impacts.

The school has one of the largest research communities with more than 230 postgraduate students including 50 doctoral researchers.

The eTourism Lab explores a vast range of tourism and hospitality issues, but the rise of social media is fast becoming one of the most important.

“Social media is becoming for organisations to communicate effectively and compete globally,” said Professor Buhalis.

Latest research themes include online reputation and brand management, real time business management and marketing and social media engagement.

“Some organisations and destinations are already very good at using social media but many others have no even begun to grasp the challenges and opportunities,” said Professor Buhalis.

Clients of the eTourism Lab include international and national agencies, governments and bodies such as the EU, UN and the WWF.

For more on the seminar visit the website