10 Travel Marketing Trends
Travel is and always has been about escape. The irony is, though, modern travel marketers need to use the Internet to reach consumers most of the way through the process. Disconnecting, however, is one of the 10 trends travel marketers need to accommodate in the end, according to a recent Adweek article.
Internet-savvy travelers enjoy images the most when daydreaming about trips, instead of the words in print brochures that they once enjoyed, says “10 Trends Shaping Travel Marketing Today: Digital drives our planning, but the goal is to disconnect” by Mark Tungate.
“The man who brought travel to the toiling masses was one Thomas Cook,” writes Tungate in the article published on Oct. 17, “who put together the first package tours and, as a trained printer, promoted them via enticing brochures. His alluring copy offered a promise of escape — there’s that word again — to industrial age factory workers. Later, of course, brochures came packed with glossy photos.”
Here’s what travel marketers should know about current trends, says Tungate:
The Instagram Effect
Instagram images drive modern daydreams.
“Most travel brands have their own Instagram accounts, and the platform bristles with influencers posting envy-inducing snaps from around the world. To a certain extent, travel has always been about bragging rights.”
Tungate lauds video’s storytelling ability, which have largely replaced travel brochures. (Many marketers also tout video’s emotional appeal, even as Tungate alluded to the tactile-is-personal aspect of the printed brochure.)
He cites Skift’s recent aggregation of travel videos as an example of how travel marketers are buying into the channel “in a big way.”
Homebase Abroad may have been ahead of the curve, according to an April 2010 cover story in Target Marketing. At that time, the company renting travelers homes in Italy had been sending out videos in its e-newsletter.
"While people absolutely absorb the other information, it's the visuals where we want to keep doing more," said Mara Solomon, Homebase Abroad’s director and co-founder, talking to Target Marketing in 2010. "Because it's the visuals that people are really gravitating to."
Now, Homebase Abroad is on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook, among other outlets.
Curated, Personalized Trips
This isn’t a travel agent, Tungate says. He writes:
One newish example is Essentialist, co-founded by former Travel + Leisure editor in chief Nancy Novogrod. A $1,400 annual fee gets you access to a travel planner, but the real innovation here is a site full of classy insider-tip travel writing. You can save your favorite clips and pass them on to your personal “travel designer,” who’ll use them to create your perfect break. It’s also an example of the way the borders between journalism, marketing and “content” are beginning to blur.
Homes Away From Homes
Ahem. Homebase Abroad. However, new marketers are joining this hospitality sector.
Tungate says Airbnb can’t be ignored. It’s even forcing hotels to make their rooms seem more like homes.
Authentically Local Feel
This trend blends a bit with the others, because adding local touches — which Airbnb can’t help but do and hotels are adding — makes a place feel more intimate and more like a home. Tungate says everything from local art to neighborhood cuisine lends itself to an authentic feel.
‘Bleisure,’ or Business-Plus-Leisure
Hospitality marketers are creating spaces that are more luxurious than corporate apartments. Zoku, for instance, offers “loft-style spaces designed as homes away from home, with the added benefit of dry cleaning and housekeeping, as well as office supplies and, alongside the bar and communal areas, meeting and event spaces. There are even members of staff known as ‘sidekicks’ who are a combination of concierge and personal assistant,” Tungate says.
A More Intimate Connection
Again, authentically local touches help here. Tungate writes about how this need among travelers is giving rise to “sites such as VizEat, Meal Sharing and WithLocals, which enable you to dine or explore with locals. [Outgoing Airbnb marketing supremo Jonathan] Mildenhall told me: ‘Experiences, rather than possessions, have become the new markers of success. … [Today’s travelers] are much more about collecting experiences that are personal to them.’ ”
Target Marketing writes about this experiential travel marketing trend, too, including in situations involving vacationers bringing suitcases of medical supplies to drop off at local clinics.
Tungate says travelers are not only interested in learning about other cultures, but in making connections with residents of the areas they’re visiting. While he’s cautious about the success of those attempts, the head of Not Just Tourists Toronto told Target Marketing volunteers dropping off medical supplies through the charity have made lifelong friends.
Bots are handling basic questions during booking and after sales, Tungate said. He listed Expedia, Kayak, Lufthansa and British Airways among the brands adhering to this trend.
Travelers use digital means to research and book their trips, but here’s where the Web hits the road, Tungate says. Vacationers want to go off of the grid or at least off of the Internet, he says.
What do you think, marketers?
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