Picture this. You’re surfing Pinterest, and happen upon a gorgeous panoramic shot of the Amalfi Coast. You’ve never been to Italy, but you’ve been dying to go ever since you saw that Buzzfeed article on “The 10 Best Places to Travel in your 20s”—not to mention your best friend keeps updating her Facebook album from her recent trip to Rome. You think, why not? So you jump onto your Kayak app to see if flights are as expensive as you thought, look for a few reviews on TripAdvisor, and do a quick hotel search on Airbnb. In a matter of minutes you’ve booked your dream trip—it was really that easy.

We’re on the brink of a new global travel frontier, and it’s going to revolutionize the way the world has thought about exploration. The phenomenon is called “Travel 3.0”, which refers to a 3rd wave of innovation within the travel industry based on the rising trend of mobile technologies and 24/7 connectedness. The surge in the use of online tools and mobile apps, from every corner of the world, has effectively globalized us.

In an article titled “Travel 3.0: Are We There Yet?” world traveler and Forbes 2013 Social Media Influencer Ann Tran states, “instead of relying on mainstream media to define travel for us, all of us are now empowered to define travel ourselves through our shared photos, tweets and blog posts, giving others a look into travel experiences and cultures they may never have considered.”

Aside from the advancements in online and mobile technologies, the rise of social media has directly impacted this trend of globalization. Smartphones have taken the place of cameras, and allowed anyone with an internet connection to share their experiences on sites like Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest. According to a report compiled by IPK International, “40% of travelers said social network comments influenced their travel planning, while 50% actually based their travel plans on other people’s reviews and experiences.”

While sharing experiences through “social travel” may be one of the biggest uses for social media in the industry, the relationship between the two doesn’t end there. In addition to using social media to find inspiration, get recommendations, and discover places to stay, consumers are turning to social media increasingly for customer service solutions. According to online news and content agency, Brafton, “travel brands must respond to in-transit customers using internet-enabled devices to resolve complaints and mitigate real-time social concerns. Adobe Systems’ Hotel Benchmarking Metrics report shows that consumers use tablets more than PCs to visit hotel websites. Companies can reach smartphone and tablet owners through social networks to prompt last-minute bookings.”

Because of the ease of access to information, as well as the interconnectedness of both consumers and brands, it is important that companies remain transparent and honest in their interactions.

So what’s next for social media and travel? While companies are making leaps and bounds in technological innovation, improved strategies need to be put into place to meet the demand of increasingly social and worldly consumers. We’re not quite at “Travel 3.0”, but we’re getting there!

SoMe asks: What social media outlets do you use for travel inspiration and advice?