March 14, 2016

Travel Brands Must Adapt to Attract Emerging Market Travellers

by Malek Murison

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emerging market travellers guide

A famous quote says that travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer. I think it’s probably true. Memories are timeless, and incredible experiences will live on far longer than your new 4k TV ever will. Think about it for a second and you’ll realise what a valuable service those in the travel industry are entrusted with. With this spirit in mind, today we’re going to tackle a problem which is rife across the industry...

As we all know, a passion for travel is fuelled by our innate human curiosity. It isn’t something that is restricted by nationality, wealth or the colour of your skin. It’s something we all crave, regardless of background. Travellers from emerging economies have just as much drive to see the world and experience new things, and it’s time for travel agencies to step up and make the booking process easier across the board.

There are four main ways that we in the industry can do this:

Connect in the Right Way

Many people searching for travel in emerging markets may be doing so through slightly unconventional means. Bookings and research are becoming increasingly mobile, as smartphones become the leading conduit through which people access the internet. Travellers from developing nations are also highly likely to engage with social media once they are connected.

So there are two obvious takeaways for travel providers looking to target customers in developing nations. To connect in the right way operators first have to optimise their content for mobile, so that as many people can access it as possible. Second, the importance of a strong social media presence cannot be overstated. Find, engage and build a rapport with travellers online; the bookings will soon start coming in.

An increasingly mobile and social media-savvy user base also opens the door for you to engage with travellers through their peers, and spread user generated content among your target audience.  

Speak the Language

Come on guys, this one’s obvious. You’re going to struggle to sell a trip, activity or experience to someone if you can’t communicate with them. It doesn’t matter how many pretty pictures, videos or 5* ratings you have, if they can’t navigate through your content and booking system without the help of an interpreter, you’re going to lose a customer.   

Gradually this issue is being addressed, and travel brands are more easily tapping into emerging markets with the help of slick, international digital content. When booking a trip in a foreign country, emerging market travellers are far more likely to finish a transaction if it’s in their own language.

Remember, the pool of consumers happy to book in English is a pretty small proportion of the global internet market. English was used by about 26 percent of Internet users worldwide as of June 2015, according to Statista, with China second at 21 percent.

According to’s 2015 Chinese International Travel Monitor study, as many as 8 in 10 mainland-China international travelers had used an online source to plan and book in the previous 12 months. Half accessed mobile apps to do so. It’s obvious that translating digital content and booking systems is becoming more important than ever.

Speaking with Skift, Niklas Schlappkohl, senior director of eCommerce at Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group - a client - said “There’s a lot of belief that English is good enough — that’s just not the case”. Multilingual content typically doubles conversion.

Close the Circle

Don’t be one of the companies that invests heavily in translating online web content, but neglects to translate the booking process as well. This mistake is a sure way to increase basket abandonment, with potential customers losing trust in you at the most important moment.

It’s also common for companies to translate all content and the booking process, but fail to make bookings available in the local currency. It’s a simple conversion process, and something which could further increase the legitimacy of your booking process.  

Enabling local payment is another thing that all travel operators should consider. Typically, offering one-click payments within an app increases conversion by 20-30 percent. And if you make things easier for your customers, they’ll repay you with loyalty.

Brands around the world are beginning to see this, and are forming partnerships with the likes of UnionPay, Alipay and WeChat Payment for tourists booking out of China. This is because most Chinese do not carry internationally accepted credit cards. Last August, UnionPay announced partnerships with 20 Asian, European and Middle Eastern airlines.

Give the People What They Want

Never forget the audience you are targeting. While we have already discussed the innate human curiosity behind a desire to travel, it’s important that you discover and tap into what it is that drives people to your experience or destination. Travellers from emerging markets may have a huge desire to see a country’s principal sights, embarking on a classic, more ‘touristy’ kind of trip. Or they may want to get off the beaten track. Either way, it’s up to you to find out, and make sure you create as much engaging content across social media and other channels as possible.  

The bottom line? Just like the desire to travel, ease of use and simplicity of access are two things which transcend nationality and will impact upon the conversion rates you receive from emerging market travellers. Make things easy for them, offer them what they want and project your brand as a beacon of trust, expertise and legitimacy in a way anyone can understand. You’ll soon have more customers than you know what to do with.  

Travelshift - How we can help

There are three main functions built in to Travelshift software that will help you create a marketplace to attract emerging market travellers. These are:

MULTI-LANGUAGE - Know your customers and provide them with material in their languages. Our platform supports all languages and characters.

MOBILE FRIENDLY - Mobile bookings are increasing with every passing day. Our platform is responsive and mobile friendly from day one, so you can start accepting payments through mobile browsers.

USER-GENERATED CONTENT - Engage your users and encourage the growth of a community of travellers and experts, whose content can then be shared to increase your authority and reach.