The Travel Marketing Trends You Need to Know Now
Travel marketing is expanding it’s horizons as new technologies come to the fore. With that in mind, here we explore the travel marketing trends you need to know now.
The Rise of Mobile
This has been an ongoing trend since smartphones began matching laptops and computers in processing power. People research destinations, pin dream holidays. They look for discounts online; as well as booking their holiday there and then. Buyers are also more concerned about the product offering than the brand. 90% will switch sites for a better deal or experience.
One key factor is page speed. Travel websites typically feature intricate tools and large images, making them slow to load. In an e-commerce environment where people will switch sites after 3 seconds loading time, that is unacceptable.
Takeway:Make sure your #travel website is quick to load and focused on what you offer, not your brand. Click To Tweet
Travel and New Technology
As science fiction becomes reality and authors such as William Gibson say they can’t keep up with new inventions, we’re moving into a new era for travel; one populated by robots, smart devices, and virtual reality. This is one of the travel marketing trends fuelled by innovation.
“At the front desk, you will be greeted by multi-lingual robots that will help you check in or check out. At the cloakroom, the robotic arm will store your luggage for you, and the porter robots will carry them to your room (only available in A Wing). Mechanic yet somehow human, those fun moments with the robots will warm your heart.” – Henn na Hotel, in Japan.
Henn na Hotel in Japan is staffed almost entirely by robots. While other hotels haven’t gone to those extremes, the Hilton is experimenting with a robotic concierge called Connie and a Marriot in Belgium has a humanoid robot called Mario.
The Arnold Schwarzenegger film Total Recall explored the idea of virtual reality holidays. There were trips to exotic locations, including Mars and Saturn. While it didn’t go too well for the protagonist, the idea was that immersive VR vacations would be far cheaper. And just as good as the real thing.
While we don’t have sensory brain implants to make us feel like we’re right there (yet). But technology has progressed to the point where VR can show us what’s out there and promote holiday spots. This includes virtual 360 tours of luxurious hotels, overhead shots of golden beaches, the magic of ice caves and coral reefs.
That Local Flavour
Authenticity is another of the key travel marketing trends. Local shopping, sharing goods through sites like Freecycle, couchsurfing and house swapping have all become popular. It’s a great way to connect communities, cut costs and share resources, particularly in a society that is becoming more corporate and commodified.
“The sharing economy emerges from the idea that people can save and/or earn money by renting, lending, selling, or exchanging unused or underused items/services.” – The Thrifty Nomad.
There are places that rent / share boats, bicycles, car rides and even campervans. There are also sites like Eatwith, where strangers get together to share a meal. It’s a particularly nice idea abroad, and a great way to meet locals and sample some exotic cuisine.
One great example of this is the ‘Tiny Campsites’ trend. People rent out everything from a meadow on their land to their back garden, provide some basic services (usually chargers and shower facilities) and campers enjoy a wild experience in a safe environment. Places like Badrallach in Scotland also offer grocery delivery and a bothy (small hut) for bad weather.
Takeaway:Embrace real authenticity in #travel marketing, and connect with your customers on a local, #personal level. Click To Tweet
The Downside of Faux Authenticity
The problem is, authenticity can be romanticised, and so exploited.
Airbnb was a forerunner for this, promoting the idea of renting out a room in your home. The idea was to facilitate individuals helping each other out. Yet, much like Uber, several problems have arisen.
“Specifically, a heavily reported January 2016 study found that “[R]equests from guests with distinctively African-American names are roughly 16 percent less likely to be accepted than identical guests with distinctively White names.” – The Independent, November 2016
Shady landlords have bought properties or evicted tenants in order to rent their rooms out. This has meant increasing rents and homelessness. People with ‘non-white’ sounding names were sometimes denied rentals. Hosts have extorted guests and and cancelled bookings last minute. Visitors have trashed rentals or had raucous parties. Some accommodation provided was not up to scratch.
#Travel companies must avoid the temptation to exploit authenticity purely for profit. Click To Tweet
All these issues – slumlords, racial discrimination, extortion, cancellation, hygiene standards – are regulated and enforced in the regular hospitality industry. A regular self catering cottage with bed bugs, a broken toilet and shoddy electricals (all real issues Airbnb customers have faced) would be shut down.
Ditto for racial discrimination – it’s explicitly illegal in the UK to “to refuse to serve a person… on the grounds of colour, race, or ethnic or national origins.” Of course, it is gotten round by the legal fiction that the service is about ‘sharing’, and not about making profit.
The red tape that Air BnB purported to cut through was there for a reason.