Does keeping up with the changing trends in travel marketing become a case of déjà vu? Think you’ve heard it all before? Well, here are some ideas you may not have thought of, courtesy of Jim Nichols in iMediaConnection, the VP of Marketing at Apsalar, a mobile marketing agency.
It doesn’t take much to make disruptive marketing changes in an industry, and travel is no different. With the tidal wave of social media, content marketing, mobile marketing and everything else that’s made travel marketers jugglers of the new media, nothing seems to stay the same.
So what are some ideas that Nichols has noticed?
1.) The collaborative economy
Also called the sharing economy, it’s become the hallmark of marketing to younger demographics. They include everything from accommodations (AirBnb is the best example of this), transportation (Uber, Lyft, and their competition), vacation activities (Viator and Vayable), and meals (Vizeat), and allow for greater customization of the travel experience while often saving money and allowing for longer stays. Some retailers will offer on-the-premises services for these travelers. A current example is the Gap, who will take care of clothing emergencies with purchases brought to their rooms.
Sharing businesses will often market to millennials, the largest target group that mostly uses these services. One thing that you might overlook is how this phenomenon touches upon the Generation X and Generation Z cohorts on either side of the millennials. Keep this in mind when you think about how you could think about marketing ideas about the collaborative economy.
2.) Lifestyle heterogeneity
There’s a lot of diversity out there when it comes to travelers. The example that Nichols gives is the Holiday Inn of yesteryear, which along with Howard Johnson’s, was the only nationwide hotel option for many families. Each was the same, with the identical rooms, décor, amenities (which were often limited to the swimming pool and nothing more) and restaurant food.
Now, people are more discriminating and demanding when they are on vacation or a business trips. Most hotel chains have developed all kinds of versions to suit every person’s and family’s tastes, budgets and amenities preferences. All of this is determined by targeted data that reveals what travelers want, and hotels (as well as other travel providers) would be well advised to follow that trend.
What does this mean for you? Pay attention to your audience’s and customers’ preferences to personalize the travel experiences you offer. The more you can respond to their different lifestyle preferences, the more successful your business can be.
3.) Increasing “fit” expectations
When online travel agencies like Expedia first started, travelers were thrilled to get so many options to choose from with their flights, hotels, cars and anything else related to planning a trip. Now they’ve come to expect information that’s specifically tailored to the travel purpose and preferences. Nichols relates how people travel to Las Vegas head there for difference reasons – for bachelor/bachelorette celebrations, gaming, romantic getaways – and look for either budget or ultimate luxury accommodations, with the related activities that with each purpose.
Travel companies need to keep up by collecting necessary data to document and interpret these travelers’ needs and wants. What most don’t know is the segment of unstructured data that reveals even more personal preferences, allowing for an even greater fit to satisfy customers on their stay. This is done through use of natural language search and with analysis of past search and purchases on the internet. A company that Nichols mentions is WayBlazer, one of which can help you in this process.
4.) Omni-channel travel shopping
If your marketing messages haven’t gotten on several media devices, you’re unfortunately behind the curve. But that’s not a cause for despair – many travel companies haven’t done that either, or they’re not sure which would be the most effective.
The short answer is all of them. You just never know where your customers are going to find you, whether that’s on a desktop or laptop computer or on their mobile devices. You can make sure that the followers on your list have uniform login across every channel. Look into working with a device graph company to integrate booking and browsing data together. This will also help you with development of more dimensional customer profiles and personas, which can always help you in your marketing strategies.
5.) The advent of companion apps
This is basically a “done-for-you” app, where travelers can simply use this to research, book, check-in and even in the case of hotels, use the smartphone as a room key. It allows for convenience and avoids having to deal with staff. One obvious aspect about this development is determining guest preferences, where hotels can provide pillow and room location preferences or even provide a breakfast exactly the way a guest wants it.
How many of these trends have you seen or have implemented in your travel marketing? Are you wanting to try one of them? Share your thoughts below!