Family and friends are the single most important resource for travel planning, according to a study fielded by Destination Analysts. "The State of the American Traveler: Technology Edition" looks at technology and how travelers use it to dream about, plan and execute their trips. While the report details adoption rates for existing and emerging technologies, it also puts travel planning sources in greater context. 

The findings are based on a survey conducted online with a nationally representative sample of adult Americans from late March to mid-April 2017.

The study ranks the most common travel planning sources, how trusted they are, how frequently they are used and how important they generally are to destination selection. Word–of–mouth information from family and friends — both in person and via social media — by far the most influential resource. Official destination websites, visitor guides, and face-to-face advice from official destination sources followed friends and family.

The study makes a distinct difference between personal social media interactions with friends and family versus social media with brands and companies.

"Don't go posting a bunch more on the company Facebook page," warns Jack Bonney, Visit Anchorage content manager. "This study shows that company social media accounts don't have the same pull as real people you know, or even working through official tourism resources when it comes to trip planning."

Social media interactions with travel business such as hotels, attractions and airlines were among some of the least used, least important, least trusted travel planning sources, according to the survey.

An executive summary is available through Destination Analysts.