Digital Travel Trends and Takeaways – October 2017

From the Thought Leadership Team at USDM Digital®


TREND“We are in the midst of increasingly rapid and dramatic technological change, poised to revolutionize how and where we travel,” says Mark McSpadden, vice president of emerging products and technologies for Sabre Corporation. “Technologies like artificial intelligence, augmented reality (AR), blockchain, and quantum computing each have the potential to produce change as dramatic as the growth of the Internet.” – Sabre

USDM Digital® Take-Away:  New, extremely engaging consumer technologies (easy access to mobile videos, voice-activated AI assistants like Suri and Alexa, Digital watches and wearables, AR/VR enabled phones and glasses and more) are causing faster and larger mass shifts in consumer behavior and expectations creating dramatic marketplace disruptions.

Many Destination and Travel marketers are still too slow to implement the changes in technology and digital communications as fast as consumers are using them to significantly change how they find, review, and select their travel choices.  The pace of innovation and customer expectations is increasing faster.  Travel marketers who are not updating their strategies and tactics to keep pace are at real risk of vulnerability to loss of market share, visitor counts, and significant revenue to savvy competitors that are attracting today’s travel consumers in the manner and channels THEY want.

Destination and Travel marketers can no longer risk hugging status quo reluctance to change when capable digital marketing consultants can help them assess, prioritize, and implement the best new strategies for their markets and budgets.  Periodic assessment of your marketing by qualified, outside digital marketers that specialize in travel and tourism can reveal insightful awareness of your strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities you have not seen.  Below, are some of the innovations you might consider.

TREND:  Searching on smartphones has become the norm among Americans in recent years: Almost 60% will do so regularly in 2017, up from less than half in 2015.  –

USDM Digital® Take-Away:  This almost seems like old news, except for the fact that many travel and tourism marketers still host outdated websites and incompatible mobile utility.  Many consumers complain they cannot complete a travel inquiry or transaction on their mobile device as easily as their Amazon experience (the expected standard) and that they immediately go to a competitor.  Now, mobile content leads; website content follows.

TRENDConsumers spending more time viewing social network content and videos on their smartphones has contributed to a significant shift in how they want to consume all content.

USDM Digital® Take-Away:  Long content is skipped. Scrolling is out.  Content delivered with a strong image and compelling headline (that clicks to more content) is the preferred norm for time-challenged consumers.  Short videos get the most attention of all.  This calls for a significant shift to a new website content strategy and outbound marketing that replaces a focus on search engine keyword optimizing with content push on social platforms.  Search engines now recognize the importance of social channels and put content on them higher in their search results placement.  Compelling, short content in social channels now lures prospects to your mobile website for further engagement.

TREND:  AR, VR, and wearable devices will be the biggest disrupters to the Travel Industry of all time, predicts Adobe Digital Insights.  As consumers drive this change, businesses that don’t keep up by providing some VR content will surely be the victims of disruption by those that do.

USDM Digital® Take-Away:  Consumers’ love affair with mobile content will shift to smaller screens on wearable devices and voice interfaces that provide hands-free control.  When will your content, messages, and offers be responsive to these mass consumers?

Similarly, Augmented Reality (AR) is advancing rapidly and poised to be a historic game-changer for travel and tourism, as a marketing tool for enticing visitors to destinations, museums, attractions, and events; and as an enhancement to real life exhibits and experiences once they get there.  Recent and coming enhancements to Apple iPhones, Android phones, and Microsoft’s Hololens headsets will drive this trend very soon.  Travel leaders are gearing up to quietly take market share from their competition. Is this in your budget or marketing plan?

TRENDFacebook says its News Feed will chiefly comprise videos within 5 years – written posts will be few and far between. We are already at a point where with every swipe down we come across a video and they will only become even more frequent as Facebook Live and vertical video ads become more popular. – Facebook

USDM Digital® Take-Away:  No, you don’t have to have yesterday’s huge budget for professionally produced video, like you did for television commercials.  Today’s short videos shared in social channels and YouTube a million times a day are shot (and edited) on a smartphone.  Newer models all have state-of-art optics, filters, and motion control features that make every citizen a news reporter and entertainment director.   Are your millennial staffers and social media influencers shooting iPhone videos for your tourism product?


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