Travel Trends In The Twenty-Tens: What Marketers Need To Know
More than 50 percent of travelers' research, planning, and way-finding is performed solely on mobile devices.
Back in 2009, the travel industry looked as though it needed a vacation of its own. Millions of families and businesses were hit by the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and the first kinds of budgets to be cut were those allotted for vacations. However, it’s been a while since then, and a lot has happened — people are finally letting loose a bit, and spending more on travel. In fact, if we check the travel industry growth between 2015 and 2016, we can see a staggering 46 million increase in the number of tourists worldwide [UNWTO World Tourism Barometer].
These are fantastic numbers and figures, but one might ask why? It seems that many people, 72 percent in fact, have come to grasps with the transitory and superficial nature of material objects. Instead, all signs point to people opting for the immaterial, and sometimes more profound, experience of travel. What’s driving this movement? On one hand, it’s a phenomenon sprouted from our social, interconnected lives and the illustrious “FOMO” that comes with it. On the other hand, it’s the virtual validation that individuals receive from posting about their experiences. In 2017, 55 percent of travelers said that they publicly posted holiday pictures from their respective trips to receive praise and validation amongst their peers , as opposed to taking photos for the sake of privately capturing memories from the destinations for themselves. [Expedia Travel Survey]
Although these clearly suggest that social is at the heart of the modern travel experience, data is telling us more about the new mindset of travelers and what they’re prioritizing. Five big trends came from our research, all presenting valuable opportunities for travel, hospitality, and tourism brands.
1. Sustainable Tourism
71 percent of travelers plan to make eco-friendly choices in the next 12 months, in contrast to what was only 45 percent one year ago. In addition to this, 58 percent of travelers said their choices are affected by whether or not the hotel gives back to the local community, and 66 percent of global consumers prefer to buy products and services from brands that give back to society [TripAdvisor]. Why? It seems that in this age of political turmoil and ecological crisis, individuals support only the companies whose values are aligned with those of their own, especially when it comes to luxury purchases and consumerism. It’s in these particular cases that marketers must take social responsibility into account. By advertising the charitable aspects of the brands, you’re telling people why they should want your product, as well as why they should also feel good about buying it over the competition – a strategy that will be especially effective with millennial travelers.
2. The “Bucket List Effect”
75 percent of travelers say they’d like to visit travel destinations that none of their friends have visited before. Additionally, 80 percent of travelers expressed interest in escaping the usual tourist traps on their next holiday [Experiential Travel Survey]. It turns out that people enjoy having unique experiences they can claim as their own, as opposed to traveling to the same popularly visited destinations that will provide them with the same basic pictures that everybody else has in their photo-albums or social platforms. This means that people are always on the prowl for a trendy destination – giving marketers an opportunity to showcase “under-rated” locales which enable their ads to stand out more and drive curiosity; a powerful duo that can exponentially increase sales.
3. The Experience Connoisseurs
As we all should know by now, one thing that social media does best is bestow its users with an inflated sense of importance. We clearly see this when confronted with the fact that 70 percent of connected travelers see themselves as “experience connoisseurs”, and believe that their ambassadorship of places can reach new markets to influence others. They can believe what they want to believe; it’s better for us that way, because this mentality is what has been driving social media towards the center of the vacation experience. 40 percent of travelers use social media to store their memories from their holiday experience – a strong sign that we should be targeting travelers, particularly those with a large influential following, via social media sites.
4. Airport Dwell time
The average Global airport dwell time is 137 minutes – a large chunk of time that’s essentially wasted for most people. It’s both our job, and an incredible opportunity, to create meaningful stimulation(s) in an often hectic and mind-numbing environment. One innovative solution recently carried out by New Zealand Tourism within the country’s airports was to roll out Wi-Fi and data services for foreign tourists so they could download content and information required for their airline travel. It goes without saying, the possibilities are endless when you factor your audiences and the locations/situations they may find themselves in!
Finally, we arrive at the subject of mobile devices. More than 50 percent of travelers’ research, planning, and way-finding is performed solely on mobile devices [Amadeus]. This is a number that we shouldn’t be surprised to see, as trends indicate that these statistics will only continue to shoot upwards. We should take this into account when we develop plans and strategies. Thanks to location services, many social applications and map services will have data to tell you when a person is stationary or traveling out of town. Tapping into this data is crucial towards understanding and mapping the entire traveler’s journey, and further building upon the ways in which we can contextually drive transactions.
*Anne Lim is the global head of product strategy for Aviator Worldwide at WPP’s Kinetic agency.