We've previously spoken about travel trends in 2018, and one of them that continues to grow is the rise of the experience economy.
What is an experience economy?
The experience economy emerged at the turn of the century, with more and more people desiring a richer life, over a life of riches. Today, much of the population would prefer to buy experiences (holidays, festivals etc) over consumer goods. This movement is particularly prevelant across the millenial generation.
The growth of the experience economy
As the experience economy grows, the travel industry is well positioned for this expansion, as a study by American Express found that 85% agreed that spending money on travel is an investment worth making. Travel brands should put experiences and the joy we recieve from them at the forefront of their strategies to reap the rewards of this new generation of 'experience seekers'.
However, in this booming economy, how can travel brands get customers’ attention in a highly competitive market whilst keeping to a budget?
Experience seekers' purchasing journey
Today’s consumer has access to an immense number of online resources to collect information regarding travel before they make a purchase. From booking sites and review sites to social media, modern day consumers will investigate quality and price before making any decisions and so it is important that brands can reach out to prospective travellers across all digital platforms.
A recent study by Expedia media solutions found that travellers browsed an average of 38 websites before making a purchase. This indicates that modern consumers are willing to dedicate a lot of time into their decisions and so the challenge for marketers in the travel industry is to work out the most effective and meaningful way to reach out to them.
Recent trends affecting the travel market
Online reviews are having the most impact on bookings
Consumer generated content (CGC) is quickly becoming a highly valued source of information and reviews can make or break a consumer’s choice to make a purchase. Online reviews are a popular source of information among travellers because they are typically considered to be more trustworthy due to them being posted by the public with a non-profit agenda rather than a company.
More onto this, a recent survey by Podium has revealed that a staggering 93% of consumers reported that online reviews had an impact on their purchase decision. With this in mind, it is clear that positive online reviews could be a business’ most valuable marketing tool and could act as the drive for a customer to make a purchase.
Consumers don’t just care about the price, they value positive experiences and many travellers are willing to pay more to ensure that they get just that. Podium has found that 68% of consumers are willing to pay up to 15% more for the same product or service if they are assured that they will have a better experience.
Fears over sustainability and overtourism
An increasing rate of travellers are becoming aware of issues surrounding sustainability and overtourism. Many destinations are being regarded as undesirable due to immense popularity. For this reason, consumers are now looking for lesser known destinations for their perfect getaway and travel brands will need to cater to these demands.
View more of our 2018 digital travel trends.
Strategies for travel brands
In such an overcrowded market, brands need to embrace travel & digital marketing to respond directly to customer needs and cater to their behaviours. According to Forbes, there has been a dramatic decline in customer loyalty within the travel industry as a result of easier access to booking tools and comparative prices. Understandably, travellers are becoming more and more loyal to those who are offering the best prices and experiences.
So what tips do we have for travel brands?
Be consistent with your brand
Considering the high volume of online resources within the travel industry, it is unlikely that a traveller is researching or purchasing a trip through a corporate website, meaning marketers need to ensure that their brand is present across all platforms such as booking sites, partner sites and review sites in a strong way. To achieve this, brands need a single source of digital assets which both provides clear guidelines and highlights how brand identity elements should be used.
If this is not carried out correctly, a brand runs the risk of having an incorrect description on a profitable partner site which may transmit the wrong message and provide an inconsistent experience. Ultimately, a consumer could feel discouraged to continue a purchase with that travel brand.
Moreover, it’s also important to note that many of today’s consumers rely on their mobile devices to search online and access social media sites. With this in mind, brands need to ensure that they are optimized for mobile searches so they continue to stand out from the crowd.
Be innovative and connect
Travel brands are always looking for new ways to connect with travellers; the key is to be creative with the ways you reach out to consumers and keep them engaged through all of their digital encounters. It’s also really important to make it easy for customers to interact with your brand. There is a great deal of viral potential when consumers are creatively and actively engaging with a brand on social media sites such as Instagram or Twitter.
For example, contests and campaigns can be particularly effective, especially video and picture contests, allowing the audience to be part of your brand in addition to helping increase your user generated content (UGC).
If a high number of users are posting pictures, interacting and using a brand’s hashtag, they feel like they are part of something bigger than a brand - they feel connected as a member of a community.
Be efficient with content: use and reuse
Content is distributed across a number of online platforms by marketers and all of which require videos, images and other media in different formats. A concise content marketing strategy can ensure unity across different teams, departments and locations, in addition to marketing tools which can monitor content quality, helping you to determine which ones are your focus. If there are several that are gaining traction, it's wise to expand and repurpose these to help widen the content's reach.
Some final words
It is clear that travel brands have many challenges coming their way, however, there are also incredible opportunities ahead if a brand has mature digital strategy. If a brand is equipped and willing to take on new formats, technology and channels then they are capable of obtaining the attention of tomorrow’s traveller.
Find out more about how to take your travel marketing to new heights.