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The Changing Trends of Travel Industry Marketing

Travel industry marketing is changing. And, for better or for worse, travel operators need to adapt. In this blog post we’re going to be taking a closer look at how travel marketing is being turned on its head, what challenges these changes pose to operators in the industry, and how Travelshift software can help you overcome those challenges.  

We’ll start at the beginning. Why is travel marketing being transformed? And what are these emerging trends in travel industry marketing that operators need to get to grips with?

Changing traveller attitudes toward advertising

Quite fairly, we think, travellers now have much higher expectations of brands and operators when it comes to marketing. Younger tourists (-30) in particular are increasingly tech-savvy and spend more time online than any generation in history.

This has several knock-on effects. The first is that brands now need to work harder to grab travellers’ attention. The move away from traditional forms of advertising on TV and in print is well underway.

But it’s not as simple as moving marketing efforts online. Many of today’s internet users are immune to spam campaigns, neon banners and click bait. They’ve seen it all before and won’t be falling for it anytime soon. They are adept at filtering out irrelevance and heading directly to what they’re looking for, fast.

This leaves operators with an obvious challenge: be relevant or get left behind. Be informative and inspiring or be ignored. Be interesting or watch your revenue shrink.

Nowhere is this trend played out more than in the sphere of social media. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are unique places where travellers can create their own bubbles of content that are tailored to their ‘likes’ and interests. Let’s look at this in more detail and think about how travel industry marketing needs to adapt.

The growing importance of social media

Social media is the new travel marketers’ battleground. It’s where millions of potential customers are active, engaged and there to be influenced and sold to. But the increasing importance of social media platforms is forcing marketers to adapt. In the travel industry, it’s not enough to spread links to your products and special offers.

Travel operators need to be more creative than that.

Content is King

Instead, operators are pivoting towards creating long-term relationships with potential customers, through the creation and promotion of inspiring content. It’s this element that is seeing a massive rise in terms of budget and focus.

We’ve previously highlighted the importance of content marketing, and quite rightly, too. This is an area where spending is on the up because it’s an easy way for travel brands to connect, engage and grow an audience. According to a Skift report on the state of content marketing, “the aspirational appeal of such content, combined with its increased credibility, helps it succeed with travel customers.”

But it’s not enough to simply produce content. First travel operators have to define what content even is, and what kinds of content they’re going to use to spread their message or philosophy.

And once that has been done, and content has been created there are still plenty of challenges. But first…

What counts as content?

The answer to the above question is largely subjective. For many travel brands, the simple act of posting something on social media might be seen as content marketing. For others, it might be the production of a GIF, eBook or podcast to go alongside a new product release.

All of these possibilities have an element of truth about them. Sure, anything can be content, whether it’s 140 characters in a Tweet or a 10-minute promotional video. But to understand what content marketing is really driving at we have to think about its purpose. Only once the aim is clear can travel brands think closely on the message and the medium.

What is the point of content marketing?

Content marketing is not just about putting your stuff in people’s faces. It’s about become established, a leader, a respected voice in your field.

In many cases, it’s entirely separate from the direct-sales marketing we’re all familiar with. Instead of pushing a specific product with an in-your-face advert, content marketing aims to build an audience and grow an operator’s influence.

It’s not supposed to be marketing-y.

Instead, the fundamental principle goes something like this: If you, as a travel provider, produce content that entertains, engages and informs your target market, they will be more inclined to buy your products and trust your brand as a result.

We’re a lot more cynical than we used to be when shopping. Our relationship with advertising has changed. Travellers now appreciate honesty and authenticity. They want the truth, and enough information to make informed decisions.

The concept is simple and it’s proven to be effective. And there’s another reason that travel brands are investing so much in fresh content…

Perpetuating traffic: The by-product of great content

Great content is great for SEO – there’s no getting around that fact. On the one hand, travel operators can create extensive written content that will be shared and viewed by thousands of readers. This, in turn, will generate more sales through a higher amount of traffic to the website in question.

But more content also boosts traffic organically by bumping agencies up the search engine rankings. Because of this, a by-product of any content marketing efforts is usually in an increase in relevant traffic and a natural growth in sales.

And it’s not only written content that boosts your traffic. Search engines also take into account an operator’s popularity on social media platforms and the reach of their brand beyond a simple website. This means that having a strong presence as a content creator on sites such as Youtube is also highly beneficial.

From this, we can clearly see that content marketing is an easy way to perpetuate traffic and sales. This also goes some way to answering one of the questions posed above. Namely, what kind of content should travel operators be using as part of marketing campaigns?

Content marketing in the travel industry: How and where?

So the two main questions here are what types of content should travel operators be using to reach potential customers, and where should they be employing these tactics?

The How

‘Content’, as we have seen, comes in many different forms. But to be an effective content marketer in the travel industry you need to understand which of those forms pushes the buttons of prospective travellers. More often than not marketing in this industry is about aspiration and inspiration.

via GIPHY

For that reason, content often needs to be visual and engaging. Sure, there’s room for thought-provoking writeups and detailed travel guides. But pictures still say a thousand words. Videos say even more.

So let’s focus on media content for the time being. It’s not only that pictures, videos and GIFs have the potential to highlight a product or destination better than words ever can. In an online world where we sift through huge amounts of information in seconds – whether it’s on timelines or scrolling through a website – media content offers immediacy. A quick fix, a powerful punch of inspiration.

Because they force an immediate reaction, snippets of visual media stand out on social media and general websites. It’s a medium that people can engage within seconds without complication.

If something can be engaged with quickly on social media platforms, it’s more likely to be shared and spread. As well as being increasingly good for SEO, this peer to peer sharing can be the foundation of the authenticity a travel brand is trying to develop. Even in the digital world, a share or recommendation is a pretty big compliment. It suggests that a travel operator is doing something right.

content marketing travel

Take Facebook, for example. The world’s most popular social media platform has seen a huge rise in the use of video content on its pages.

Twitter last year introduced its new GIF search feature, encouraging users to share media content to improve the quality of their tweets. And then you’ve got Youtube, the video behemoth that’s quietly become the second-largest search engine in the world, with countless hours of video content uploaded and watched every day by people all over the world.

Youtube also gives travel operators the ability to create channels, which fans can then subscribe to and watch regularly. That same video content can then be shared across social media platforms. Which leads us to an interesting question:

If we agree that visual media content is 1. the most effective at portraying aspiration and inspiration that travel lovers love and 2. growing rapidly in terms of engagement across the web….

Should every travel operator be a media organisation?

It’s difficult to get away from this as a conclusion. But it needn’t be an intimidating one for those working in the travel industry. As the traditional need for travel agents has evolved, customers are looking for more than great prices. They want information, insight and inspiration. If a travel operator can offer those things, the need for conventional marketing could disappear completely.

The Where

A few of the platforms we’ve already mentioned are prime for content marketing campaigns dedicated to travel. Facebook and Twitter, in particular, offer easy avenues to viral content if the media is engaging enough.

Instagram content marketing travel

Instagram is the perfect platform to build a loyal band of followers.

But other platforms, including Instagram and Youtube, are also proving popular arenas for content marketing – just with a slightly different edge. Although photos and videos can also go viral on these platforms, the focus is more on building a fanbase, a group or subscribers or followers that receive regular updates and believe in the message travel brands are portraying.

But of course, it’s not only on social media platforms that content marketing can boost travel brands.

You’ll struggle to find travel operators these days who don’t provide some kind of insight, information or inspiration to potential customers, free of charge. Most often this will be in the form of blog posts, travel guides and other shareable content.

The post you’re reading right now could be deemed a form of content marketing, for example. We’re not simply trying to sell you our services (indeed, we haven’t even mentioned them yet) – we’re addressing the issues of interest to our target market, establishing ourselves as visionaries in our chosen field and generally informing, entertaining and inspiring the next generation of travel startups.

Those same techniques can be found in blog posts, website content, email newsletters and more.

Things to think about

With the move toward content marketing, different challenges are now being faced by operators in the travel industry.

The biggest challenge is obvious: How do we make and measure great content? 

Although we’ve highlighted the popularity of images and video on the platforms above, that’s by no means the end of the line. What type of content depends very much on the audience and product in question.

Another huge challenge for travel brands is finding talented content creators, whether that’s writers, video editors or creative thinkers – they don’t just grow on trees, after all. Because travel businesses are primarily setup to give their customers memorable experiences, content creation is not usually an area of expertise.

Perhaps for that reason, we’ve seen an interesting trend develop in travel alongside the popularity of social media: partnering with influencers.

In many ways, these influencers provide a shortcut to exposure. The idea is simple: pay a well-known, influential figure to feature your product or service, and reap the rewards by reaching their audience directly.

Read more: The Power of Influencers in the Travel Industry

But working with influencers comes with an interesting set of challenges.How do you go about choosing who to work with? And what’s the best way to measure their effectiveness and ensure high-quality results?

What if you could create your own ‘influencers’ and measure their impact on your travel business in real time?

Where Travelshift Comes In…

travelshift-logo-blue-horiz-big

You might be wondering how all of the above could possibly be related to Travelshift. As you may or may not know, we build travel marketplaces. We’re not a content marketing agency. We don’t specialise in creating original media, so what do we know about content marketing?

We lied about only building marketplaces. We also build communities. And we’ve pioneered a whole new type of content marketing off that back of it. We call it community-driven content, and it works like this:

Our proprietary marketplace software allows our clients to build travel platforms with a difference. Built into these platforms are all the tools you need to bring together a community of writers and bloggers. In the first application of our software, our community of Icelandic locals, bloggers and travellers helped (and still helps) drive a huge amount of traffic through our GuidetoIceland marketplace.

You can read more about our GuidetoIceland marketplace in the case study.

With our community-driven framework, the authenticity and insight of locals and genuine travellers do plenty of the content marketing for you.

Interested in finding out more? Get in touch today!

The Travel Industry Must Adapt for Generation Z

Do you remember what kind of things you did for entertainment when you were younger? Take a moment to think about how you spent your free time as a teenager. You probably read books, played outside, made entertainment from nothing at all. And why? Well for one thing, the internet likely wasn’t in existence/a dominant source of entertainment in your home. Times were different, the digital world we know today was only just kicking to gear, and the result was a notion of self-entertainment that relied heavily upon imagination.

So how is this relevant to the travel industry, and where does the concept of imagination come in? More on imagination later. The main point we’re trying to make is that the young people of today are different. They’ve grown up in times of incredible technological advancement. And as their power as travel purchasers looms on the horizon, it’s becoming more and more clear that their behaviour, attitudes and expectations are completely different to generations of years gone by. Sure, every new generation has its quirks, but as the focus shifts from millennials to Generation Z, travel operators will need to adapt for this emerging customer base more than you might think.

Technology: A challenge and an opportunity

generation z travel industry

The relationship between Generation Z-ers and travel is and will be linked by technology. As a generation that’s grown up alongside rapid advancements in all things tech, the connected world has certainly left its mark. Teenagers today are the most tech savvy generation around. On top of that, having grown up in the immersive world of social media, advanced video games and platforms such as Youtube, this is a generation that takes technology and innovation for granted. For teenagers all over the world, these incredible advances have been a part of their lives for as long as they can remember. The digital world that they spend so much time in is all they’ve ever known.

Attention spans are at an all-time low – just eight seconds for Generation Z-ers according to some research. This means that things happen quickly. Content is engaged with and judged in a flash. Generation Z has been exposed to and shaped by the concept of instantaneous results and reactions. Just look at Snapchat, along with the growing popularity of memes and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it video content on platforms such as Facebook and Youtube.

But that’s not to say that the teenagers of today are a bunch of mindless kids who can’t focus on something for any longer than a goldfish can. That would be completely the wrong way of approaching this and missing the point entirely. This is instead about Generation Z’s ability to process information:

Mimi Turner, marketing director at The Lad Bible said the following:

“People talk a lot about this generation having a short attention span. That’s exactly what grown-ups say when they don’t understand something. This audience are extreme navigators of superior efficiency. They are machines at knowing what they want. They are highly sophisticated decision makers. They are efficient and marketers and brands need to catch up with that.”

Imagination and travel

In the opening to this post, we touched on the importance of imagination to the travel industry. Travel is, of course, driven by ambition, by a passion for exploration and a desire to experience new places. The imagination is where all of these wonderful emotions collide to form concrete goals that can be aimed at and aspired to.

The digital natives of Generation Z are set to have an intriguing relationship with travel and imagination. On the one hand, the next generation is touted as being more globally-minded than even Millennials. This suggests that travel will be a priority. But having said that, there’s an argument that the close relationship with technology we’ve talked about could be a barrier to those travel aspirations we currently take for granted.

“Only daydreaming while waiting for devices to recharge”

Why could this be? For starters, take a moment to appreciate how immersive and all-encompassing the digital world of technology is becoming. With the latest games, you can already explore the world (and beyond) in high definition with your friends by your virtual side. Technology isn’t (yet) an adequate substitute for the real thing, but how many teenagers are spending their days gazing longingly at pictures of Paris or Rome or New York instead of entertaining themselves via different means? The short answer is not many. You might even say there’s so much damn entertainment around that travel will fall down the list of priorities. After all, if you can have fun, a social life and experience new things through a screen does often expensive travel take a backseat?

Speaking with Campaign, Gerry Whiteside, co-director of P2 Games neatly summarises this debate. Previous generations have seen our imaginations shaped through books with a beginning, middle and an end. The infinite nature of the internet is both an opportunity but also pretty darn frightening. As Whiteside says, “There is a fabulous opportunity for children to be more creative as a result of technology. But I also have a feeling that whenever their device’s battery runs out, the next generation will only find time for daydreaming while waiting for it to recharge.”

Generation Z is coming – Is the travel industry ready?

In the next year or so the first members of this generation are going to be in a position to make travel decisions and exercise their enormous spending power around the world. So what does this tidal wave of tech-savvy youngsters mean for travel operators? And how can services and offerings be adapted to connect with the most connected generation ever?

Clearly things need to change. In a recent piece in Travel Weekly discussing how to make travel products appeal to the next generation, Miles Morgan admits that “As an industry, we have one of the most engaging products – holidays and holiday destinations – but we fail to cut through and engage people enough to grab their interest.”

The way we see it, there are two ways that travel operators can switch things up to appeal to younger customers. The first involves the way that products are marketed, and the second the medium through which that marketing happens. Now, that may sound like the same thing said in two different ways, but there’s a distinction. Honest…

Travel marketing needs to adapt to Generation Z

Even in the travel industry, taking customers and their willingness to travel for granted is a big mistake. As we’ve discussed, with the next generation of travellers it may take more persuasion than normal. That persuasion needs to be carefully planned and well thought through. Most importantly of all, it needs to be tailored to suit the behaviour and expectations of young buyers. We’re talking short-form video content through mediums such as Snapchat and Youtube; content that’s simple, shareable, visual and inspiring. Easier said than done, but the first generation of truly digital natives have got plenty of distractions to flick between. Travel operators need to cut through the noise.

The next generation of travellers spends more time watching video than any other generation in history.

The next generation of travellers spends more time watching video than any other generation in history.

They’re a social bunch too, so community driven content that encourages a relationship between your brand and each individual is the way forward.

And then we get to the mediums through which this marketing should happen. This is where we fight fire with fire. As much as we’ve been saying that digital technology poses a risk to the travel aspirations of members of Generation Z, the irony is that technology can also provide the solution. For example:

Harness the power of instant messaging

You might want to tap into fast-growing messaging platforms to offer a more personalised service. This is a generation used to having instant access to solutions and information. Anything less than that kind of speed is likely to put them off from dealing with you on a repeat basis.  

Enter their world

The real world should never pale in comparison to the virtual world. Travel offers so many opportunities and experiences that can change all of our lives for the better. If it takes a little technology to prove that and get Generation Z-ers interested, then that’s no problem. Why not create virtual reality travel content around your products to make them more enticing and immersive to a younger audience?

Being internet-savvy entails that this is a customer group that can spot cheesy campaigns from a mile off. Instead, members of Generation Z are far more likely to listen to the advice of their peers and people whose opinions they respect. Subtly tapping into the power of market influencers, whether it’s Youtube stars or Instagram giants, is definitely worth considering.

Adapt your products

Away from the techniques of marketing, one simple way to appeal to the next tech-savvy generation is to make your products as tech-friendly as possible. Generation Z is used to viewing the internet as any other utility – just like running a tap for water or turning the heating on. If you can incorporate this level of connectivity into your trips, along with other digital touches, from contactless payments to electronic keys, biometrics and (hell, why not) robot butlers, you’ll appeal both to their imagination and their love of efficiency.

Is the travel industry ready for generation z. It will probably need to adapt.

Our versatile travel marketplace platform

We’re incredibly proud of the travel marketplace platform we’ve built from scratch. One of its key features is that it allows you to build a marketplace that’s community driven and packed with relevant content from sources your customers will trust and engage with – Certainly one way to appeal to the Generation Z travellers on the horizon. Get in touch with us today to find out more and get started on your own travel platform.

Social Trends in the Travel Industry

social trends in the travel industry

There’s something about travel that appeals to our deepest desires and natural instincts. Seeing a friend’s Instagram photo of a trip to Paris is a bit like watching someone devour an ice cream on a hot day. You see it, you want it. That basic tendency is at the heart of what’s driving social trends in the travel agency today. A shared experience is a step closer to an experience that’s all your own. So maybe that’s why we love to window shop for holidays more than any other type of expenditure.

In a recent article in Marketing Land, the incredible amount of social travel data out there online was put under the microscope. Marketer Chris Kerns drew three separate conclusions from the findings of his research. We’re going to look through his analysis and suggest how travel brands might adapt to meet the changing needs and behaviour of their customers.

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Why a Facebook Video Strategy Can Boost Your Travel Brand

video content travel

When we last checked towards the end of 2015, social media giant Facebook was racking up around 8 billion video views every day. Yep, you read that right: 8 billion. And that’s up almost 100% from as recently as April last year. This is of course partly because of the new autoplay function. And while this may make newsfeed videos difficult to escape, research has shown that your average video is far more likely to receive attention than any other type of media – especially once it has been optimised for mobile.

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