As we head into 2016, now is the time when we start to re-evaluate various aspects of our lives, and look for ways to improve upon the areas of success (or failures) from 2015. It is around this time, that we start looking for trends and “things to watch out for” in the coming year, that will help us become better both personally and professionally.
The tourism industry is hot right now, and it’s becoming a very trendy marketplace, but not everything that hits the market will last. We are seeing more shared economy services coming online, and the industry is now beginning to embrace this trend in the form of partnerships with destination marketing organizations. But for every new app/service, there are three more that will vanish, never to be seen again. In 2016, we will continue to see disruption in the marketplace, where new start-ups will challenge the status quo. And I believe the disruption that new travel start-ups cause should be adopted by tourism marketers. We need to change how we market our destination brands and turn our marketing on its head. We need to challenge ourselves, our industry partners and our destination executives into viewing our travel brands in a whole new light.
While there are countless articles on trends, here are four trends tourism marketers should be focused on in 2016:
1. Personalization over Popularization. At the heart of everything is personalization. When I frequent a business, I do so because I have some type of personal connection to them. When I read content, I share it with others only if I can relate to it. Consumers do not want to feel like they are being marketed to. But consumers do want to see brands speak directly to them. In order to do that, it’s important that you know your consumer and their characteristics. Invest in necessary research tools, and spend time with your current website data to develop a more personalized approach to attracting tourists. The most shared content in the world doesn’t become popular until it is first personal.
2. Content over Campaigns. Campaigns are clever, but content is compelling. Campaigns are usually time-sensitive with starting and ending dates, and in order for them to work, they have to be really really good in order to break through the clutter. But the problem with campaigns is that consumers see right through them, and they add no value. Content, on the other hand, can add value. It actually works in all phases of the travel cycle, and is more likely to be consumed and shared. The key to being a good marketer is to always add value to the end user, so allocate your resources to create more content versus more campaigns.
3. Influencers over Institutions. How many times have you heard the term influencer marketing at a conference? Probably more times than you can count, but guess what…it works. It’s nothing new. Big brands have been doing this for years – it’s called endorsements. Think back to Michael Jordan and Nike, George Foreman and his grill or Beyoncé and Pepsi. How many products have you purchased or consumed at the recommendation of someone influential? Long ago, big brands and institutions realized that they couldn’t be the only ones sharing their message. By now, as marketers, we should know that people trust people, not organizations. In order for you to find and use influencers, it is important that you remember one thing – influencer marketing is about influence, not reach. The tricky part is finding the right influencer who not only connects with your brand, but also can connect your brand with the right people. This is where you earn your paycheck.
4. Mobile Communication over Mass Communication. In the past year, conversion rates have increased to 88 percent on mobile travel sites. What used to take us hours, can now be completed in minutes with a mobile device. Not only is mobile search up, but more consumers are using their mobile device to watch and share travel-related content on video channels like YouTube and Vimeo. And with mobile, it’s personal. Think about how often you interact with your mobile device on a daily basis. The amount of information at our fingertips is astounding. As marketers, we need to realize that while the traditional approach of mass communication still works, we need to shift and embrace the mobile-savvy traveler. Our travel brands have to be accessible via a mobile device. Now, it’s up to you and your organization to debate “Mobile App vs. Mobile Site”, and to be honest, you may need both. While mobile search is up, mobile conversion is still relatively low, which is the perfect opportunity to test out new ideas and disrupt the traditional mass communication plans of destination marketing organizations.
Best of luck to you and your travel brand in 2016, thanks for reading.
[Sources: “Travel Trends: 4 Mobile Moments Changing the Consumer Journey”, Think with Google; “The State of Personalization for Destination Marketers”, Get Smart Content; “The State of Mobile Booking 2016”, Skift]