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Muslim International Travelers Account For Over 11 Percent Of All Global Travel Spending

Here's how marketers can think about creating personalized experiences for travelers within this demographic.

There were 118 million Muslim international travelers in 2016, and approximately 25 percent reported that their destination and/or purchase decisions were impacted by targeted advertising they had seen, according to new research from Kinetic Worldwide‘s Aviator unit — but too many marketers have missed opportunities to customize content for this growing demographic, due in part to a lack of understanding or fear of misstepping.

But Muslim travelers from Europe and Asia — and particularly older Millennials, as the average age of travelers in the demographic is 30 — are visiting the U.S. and vacationing throughout the West in large numbers, both alone and with their families. They’re researching destinations on social media and travel blogs across devices, as do most younger travelers, but the Aviator study revealed one standout statistic: 87 percent of Muslim international travelers said they research destinations to ensure they meet their religious needs — and 45 percent are more likely to travel with or buy from brands that champion diversity in their advertising and marketing.

Marketers know that they need to adopt an always-on, dynamic approach to reach consumers in the mobile age. Employing contextual marketing strategies and being present across social and messaging platforms can help brands build a one-to-one connection with international travelers as well.

“While Facebook is the most favored social platform for Muslims around the world, video and messaging-heavy apps like YouTube and WhatsApp come next,” said Benjamin Bourinat, global director at Kinetic Worldwide. “The pattern is that they all facilitate the sharing of cultural events internationally — from the livestream of Fashion Week to a podcast abound Ramandan recipes. Other messaging platforms like BlackBerry Messenger or Line grow strong in some other Islamic markets like Indonesia.”

Below, other takeaways for marketers looking to create relevant advertising that caters to mobile-first Muslim travelers.

  • Make information on facilities and services more accessible as being Muslim-friendly, Halal, and Sharia compliant — and think about incorporating this as part of marketing efforts: For example, if an airline or hotel offers prayer facilities, they should say so. The same goes for offering Halal meal options, and more.
  • Prioritize social content to drive cross-channel creative: 72 percent of respondents said they rely on social media for trip research. “The social media content that Muslim travelers share and interact with is key to informing a brand’s creative,” Bourinat said. “It is where marketers are going to find current interests and conversations around faith. That content may as well as be dynamically tied to the digital screens in airports and other transit media they engage with during their journey.”
  • And, as always, the marketing “holy grail” still applies: Personalization wins the day. That means focusing on specific needs for security, convenience, and exciting experiences for each person — and thinking about how their religious or cultural background might affect that.