Digital Travel Trends and Takeaways

From the Thought Leadership Team at USDM Digital®


TREND — Messaging technology is expanding across the online commerce ecosystem in the travel industry, as it is a rapidly evolving and nearly primary method of electronic communications especially among younger users, ages 18–29. —

TAKEAWAY —  As we segment marketing messages to Millennials, we need to have a strategy and tactical plan for the next generation as well. With social sharing so important, understanding the implication of messaging technology opens up new opportunities for the way travel organizations, DMOs and brands prompt social conversations and handle mobile bookings. If you don’t have a strategy for the next travel generation, you need to develop one.

TREND — Travelers are comfortable with robots being used in the travel industry, according to a TravelZoo survey of more than 6,000 travelers in Asia, Europe, North America and South America.  More than three-quarters of respondents think that robots would be better than humans at handling data (81%), dealing with different languages (79%), and for their untiring energy (81%). – TravelZoo

TAKEAWAY — Humans are accepting of almost all types of new technology, even those that we once considered “very far in the future”. We see the adoption of new technology among all age groups and demographics. The expectation is that new technology will make things easier, and that reflects positively (or negatively) on your brand.

TREND —  About 34 percent of people in the United States used online agencies for their travel needs last year and 66 percent booked directly, according to Phocuswright, a travel market research company.  Hotel brands (like Hilton and Marriott) are spending increasing amounts of advertising dollars to promote “book direct” and increase brand loyalty.  – Phocuswright

TAKEAWAY —  Consumers are looking for the best experience and one that assures them the best value. Suppliers are getting smarter about providing the extra comfort details that are not always made available through an OTA. Having the option of those little extras can make the difference to a traveler when price is the same. It is smart marketing to differentiate yourself, whether you are promoting or branding.

TREND —  Search engines are where many leisure travelers in North America turn to when beginning to research a trip, according to Q1 2016 research by online marketing agency Fuel who surveyed 2,959 leisure travelers in Canada and the US.  Respondents said 48.4% used search engines when beginning to research a trip, 20.4% used a property’s website, 13.9% used an online travel agency, and just 5.8% used a review site when they began planning their trip.

TAKEAWAY — Our customer engagement practice has combined search/social/mobile for many years. Travelers find it easy to start their process by using searching because it allows them so many options to explore. Your search strategy should be looked at through the lens of the traveler doing the search. Providing the ultimate first search experience is a smart way to serve your brand up to prospects… but there are several other extensions of the first search strategy that give some DMOs and travel marketers the edge.

TREND — U.S. Mothers prefer to access travel content on PCs, but a significant portion research and book travel on their smartphones and tablets, according to recent surveys.  The convenient browsing features, larger screen sizes and traditional keyboard capabilities of PCs are more convenient for accessing content.  Yet many U.S. Moms use their smartphones and tablets to search for travel deals, read articles, use travel apps and book their trips.

TAKEAWAY — Today it is all about serving up your brand content and promotions on all screens across all channels. It is more about wherever and whenever than ever before. Then KNOWING where you won the traveler over (through Smart Data analytics) is key to being able to replicate success across all programs.

TREND —  Facebook is challenging traditional media businesses, such as newspapers and television networks, for advertising revenue. In the three months to the end of 2015, the social media giant brought in $5.6 billion in advertising sales revenue, a 57 per cent increase on the previous corresponding period. Eighty per cent of that revenue came from mobile advertising.

TAKEAWAY —  Digital media is marching across the landscape of advertising and causing big disruption in print and broadcast. Marketers will learn more about how to target prospects (not audiences) in FB, and how to then measure attraction, engagement and conversion through the FB strategy. Our practice in SoLoMo (social/local/mobile) takes us across all types of travel organizations and brands. We use Smart Data technology to measure campaign KPIs and we are developing technology platforms to provide end to end solutions for SoLoMo marketing. The audiences that love Facebook today are the prospects for many DMOs and travel brands. The real secret sauce lies in being able to adequately identify, attract, engage and then measure real conversion to show ROI with Facebook.

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