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Facebook committed a faux pas as users aged over 100 were not able to fill in their actual year of birth as Facebook’s birthdate form only stretches back to 1910. After several complaints by Silver Surfers about Facebook’s software automatically changing their birth date  Facebook was now forced to apologise (The Drum). Making the 100+ generation younger than they actually are caused frustration for some, and Facebook’s apology was necessary in order to prevent further frustrations. Facebook also promised to implement the fix for this  unintentional mistake as soon as possible.

How is this relevant for tourism?

Tourism is a people industry – when things like this happen to some of the key players in the industry it is very important to take a step back and really look at the potential impacts it can have on tourism. Destinations are working on a number of campaigns both on their websites and on social media channels, and this raises the question of how many people were actually denied the entree as they were older than 100. Removing any age restrictions would also be nearly impossible, so what is the upper age limit then?

Knowing your customers and the people that are interested in the destination or the tourism product that is offered is crucial. In today’s digital era target markets might not be of geographical or demographic nature but it’s people’s passions, activities and interests that will impact on the kind of users that will engage with a destination on social media channels or on Tourist Board’s websites – age is not necessarily the main focus. Never underestimate the power of Silver Surfers or any other group of users that are increasingly making use of technologies available – moving into a more and more digital era.

Takeaways

Tourism organisations worldwide should pay attention to this lesson learnt by Facebook. Knowing your consumers demographics is vital in the digital era as there is an increasing number of Silver Surfers who enjoy browsing the Web and are engaging in social media. Ensuring that nobody is being discriminated due to age restrictions or limits within sign-up options is very important!

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