31 . 7 . 17

Travelling trends to pack in your marketing suitcase this summer

Collaboratively written by: Amy Johnson & Charlie Gill

Recently a new breed of travellers have begun to roam around our little planet, and frankly they have more eagerness to explore than any other previous humans! With brands such as Airbnb leading us all in the right direction, the holidaying world as we once knew is slowly being erased, leaving airport arrivals filled with those who have experienced adventures beyond imaginable.

Due to this siege in experiential travelling Statista has predicted that by 2019 the travel industry will have grown by £596.20 billion. This statistic proves the incredible growth opportunity the sector has, however brands will need to make the right choices to keep up with the high level of competition. Firstly by recognising who will be the biggest contributors to this growth.

What has come to light this year is the amount of, quote Beyoncé, ‘Independent women’. Within the last six years there has been a 230% increase in solo female travellers (Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell.) Despite what the marketing portrays to us women aren’t just interested in spa days, they are becoming more eager to embrace cultural experiences (Forbes 2017 travel report.)

Another group worth keeping an eye on are the buzzword of the moment, millennials. According to American Express Survey more than half of millennials stated they feel a responsibility to post reviews of their travels to benefit others, but over 25% feel they spend too much of their holiday time on social media.
Although, simply knowing who will potentially be part of this boom is not enough. The travelling process can in fact be broken down into four key micro-moments (think with Google):


Each one of these moments will entail a different strategy of marketing, depending on what the customer needs/wants are at these points. Thereby to be successful we must explore what the digital trends that are currently powering the travel industry.

Content Marketing 

Once the novelty of the travel industry, content marketing has made its way to be the norm, and was expected to be worth over 24 billion pounds by 2018. Focused on creating and sharing online material, it’s key that brands focus on their social media content more than ever before (Skift), in particular user generated content (UGC). It has been reported that a huge 84% of people find UGC to have a greater influence on what they purchase than actual adverts (Expedia travel). Brands need to demonstrate human attributes to attract customers, as it builds human-to-human connections (Kotler,2017).
The finest example of content marketing comes from Airbnb guidebooks. The interesting travel related information provided on these digital guides have been developed by their own network (UGC), whereby users can share their knowledge whilst expanding their own through recommendations.
Influencer marketing
Content marketing has recently taken a turn into the influencer sphere. It requires key leaders such as Vloggers, industry experts or celebrities creating content to drive a brand’s messaging to a larger market segment. This content is then shared through the influencer’s own personal social channels. In terms of success, eMarketer found 84% of marketers have at least one influencer marketing campaign planned for 2017. The beauty of using influencers is that users see the influencers rather than focusing solely on the marketing.
Celebrity Cruises worked with World of Wanderlust influencer, Brooke Saward. This particular campaign acted a full review of being on Celebrity Cruises, everything was discussed from pricing to the ship’s travel itinerary. Showcasing to audiences the true experience this brand had to offer. Results spoke words; Brooke’s Instagram promotions averaged around 12k likes, and the travel review was shared over 100 times.
Big data
“Big data is the Information asset characterised by such a High Volume, Velocity and Variety to require specific Technology and Analytical Methods for its transformation into Value.” (Mauro et al., 2016). Or in layman’s terms, the analysis of large data sets to reveal trends relating to understanding human behaviour. Big data ensures visitors across different devices and channels can be identified; Online Travel Agencies are increasing their investment in Big data analysis, allowing companies to personalise customer journeys as well as marketing. One example of Big data supporting the inflation in experiential travelling is that it has been found through analysis that travellers are increasingly pursuing spontaneity (World Travel and Tourism Council). As Claire Bennett, the Executive Vice President of American Express stated, “One thing is clear, people regardless of their age and cost of travel, place a high value on personalised service in their travel experience”.
Disney created the finest piece of personalised travel with their MyMagic+ wristband. The wristband collects information about you to be used when you are in the resort; from creating a calculated itinerary of park route keeping on track for your favourite rides, to removing airport waiting at the baggage carousel because each bag is tagged so it can follow you to your hotel.
Travel bots
As travellers move further away from going to their local travel agents, travel companies are moving towards artificial intelligence (AI) with the digital assistants, chatbots. From general travel advice to actually booking flights, travel chatbots are becoming an integral part of the digital travel experience. Making a user’s experience easier by reducing long hours of searching, part of planning and booking moments.
A fantastic example of this being utilised in the travel sector is Skyscanner’s chat bot, which acts as a reservation agent. Users work their way through the questions or if undecided the bot offers the option ‘anywhere’ in which it will provide a range of destinations.
Multi-channel marketing
August 2016 research published by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) found that 76% of UK internet users had booked holidays digitally in the past 12 months. Breaking this up, only 13% had done so via their mobile phone, laptops and PCs do remain the vast majority. Whilst, those >55 years scorned upon using mobiles for this practice, mobiles still weren’t the most popular travel booking for younger age groups (84% would use laptops & PCs).
Supporting Google’s findings that 44% of people planning their summer trips expect to use a mix of devices to plan their vacation. Interestingly though 16% of those plan most of their activities while they are at their destination.
What do these trends mean for the travel industry?
Firstly, be prepared for an overwhelming increase in pre-purchase searches and the need to be ever present for your inquisitive customers. The millennial generation are searching for those experiences, and brands must consider how they will allow searches and content for both booking and experiencing moments. Content marketers will need to consider how well their strategies support organic growth, additionally using data to support these. On this note, prospects must ensure that they have the right infrastructure to collect data, to move towards a more personalised style of marketing. Finally, sites must be optimised to allow the user to have a personal experience on an engaging-easy-to-navigate site, across multiple devices.
The outcome of all this…
2017 traveller’s will expect all the information and services to be at their fingertips – the travel industry must learn to let the customer be the story.

De Mauro, A., Greco, M., & Grimaldi, M. (2016). A formal definition of Big Data based on its essential features. Library Review, 65(3), 122-135.
Kotler, P., Kartajaya, H. & Setiawan, I. (2017). Marketing 4.0: Moving from Traditional to Digital.