There’s a rapidly growing belief in the travel industry that Facebook will replace Google as the primary driver of traffic to travel websites sooner rather than later. In a show of hands at Sydney Travel Tribe last night, almost 50% agreed with the proposition that Facebook will generate more travel website visits than Google within two years. It’s now clear that this is not just wishful thinking.

World Nomads GM Chris Noble said Facebook was already generating 20% to 25% of Google’s transaction volume for the travel insurance company.

At Web In Travel, Kathleen Tan from AirAsia said Facebook, which it only recent started getting serious about, now drives 12% of the airline’s traffic compared with Google 17.6%, and Yahoo 10%. Present growth rates all favour Facebook.

The main reason, ironically, appears to be trust. People will trust their friend’s recommendations over Google’s. Good old word of mouth. Yet there’s a flaw in this argument because a lot of the traffic, one assumes, is coming through corporate Facebook pages. They are communities run by companies. Are they a friend? I think not.

The other contradicition is that when the same crowd was asked if they actually trusted Facebook, “the company”, hardly a hand went up. Same with Google. And Qantas for that matter. Trust no-one but your friends.

Who are your friends? The 562 people you’ve “friended” but never met on Facebook.

Anyone else see the humour in this?

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