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The travel and tourism industry is a widely competitive sector, worth over 7.6 trillion dollars (Statista, 2016). When it comes to standing out in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry, it is essential that your business remains aware of the most recent and relevant trends so you can make strategic decisions that focus on the rising markets.
- Particularly across the millennial generation (ages between 18 and 34), consumers are cutting back their spending on many material goods, in favour of spending on ‘experiences’. The travel industry is well positioned for this change, 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 receive from them at the forefront of their marketing in order to attract this generation of ‘experience seekers’.
- With more and more people becoming increasingly concerned with experiences rather than material goods, there is the need for unique experiences, rather than standard processes for everyone.
- With the desire for personalised experiences, big data is the key to allowing brands to offer customised offerings and gives them the ability to track customers’ preferences.
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- Research has shown that 85% of people said that customised itineraries are far more appealing than a one size fits all solution. Personalised services command a premium, so being personal in your market can add inherent value to your service.
- Customers are much more likely to remember meaningful brand engagements.
- With the introduction of 360-degree video on Facebook and YouTube in 2015, many tourist destinations have been able to experiment with the medium. This new experience allows viewers to immerse themselves into not only a destination, but events and activities, generating a much higher level of engagement.
- Following on from immersive video, VR has been talked of for many years now but still hasn’t quite made it into the mainstream. Could this change in 2018? It is apparent now that the tech is advanced enough to offer a virtual reality experience at an affordable price.
- In a way that has previously been impossible, VR gives customers the opportunity to experience holiday destinations before they visit. In the future, we are likely to see virtual tours of resorts and hotel rooms so holidaymakers can ‘try before they buy’ and gain a real feel of their potential holiday destination.
- Although it may seem that this level of technology is a few years away, some companies are already using the technique to encourage customers to try unique experiences. For example, Thomas Cook currently use VR to promote helicopter rides in New York across 10 of their stores in the UK and Europe, giving prospect customers the chance to get a feel for the experience before they try the real thing. They saw a 190% uplift in New York excursion bookings as a result, proving that virtual reality is likely to take off in the near future.
- Customers are looking further than just reading online reviews before they choose which travel company to book with. They are now paying attention to how companies respond to their online reviews and are using this as a deciding factor.
- Trust in the decision making process is now a huge factor when booking a holiday or choosing a travel company. It has come to the point now that customers choose not to believe a review where a customer is 100% happy about their experience as this is often viewed as ‘too good to be true’.
- Along with most things digital, we are likely to see a shift from desktop to mobile booking. Online tours and attractions bookings are expected to increase by 75% from 2015 to 2020 (TrekkSoft, 2018), where most of these online options will be mobile-optimised.
- More people are staying on mobile to book, instead of device switching (Google, 2018).
- Skyscanner (2018) found that after researching on a smartphone, 79% of mobile travellers in 2017 completed a booking - an increase from 70% who did the same in 2016.
- 49% of direct online bookings are now on mobile, compared to 31% in 2016 (TrekkSoft, 2017), suggesting that it is vital that any booking system is mobile optimised.
The travel industry is now about building relationships with your prospect and current customers, so your campaign has to help achieve this. When creating your campaign, there are various things to consider to ensure you are targeting the right people at the right time in their planning phase:
- Which aspects of your audience could influence the messaging?
- How can the content and the time of ad placement enhance your messaging further?
- Ensure your ads work on every screen and make sure your messaging is tailored to each device.
- Are you measuring the success of your ads and how you audience is interacting with them?
Your campaign should incorporate different messaging, depending on whether you are targeting prospect customers or existing customers. This will allow you to capture new audiences and maximise the loyal customers that are most valuable to you.
In the travel industry, data can be used to make creative decisions which can be game-changing, including the use of geotargeting, using location and other behaviours. An example of this involves having localised, unique social media accounts for each store across the country. By doing this, highly relevant content can be provided to your customers.
When it comes to planning a travel campaign, timing and intent is key. You need to fully understand the audience you are targeting and the timing in which they are most likely to hear your message.
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