TRENDMore than four in 10 Americans (42 percent) plan to take a vacation in 2017 followed by $198 Billion in 2018 and $206 Billion in 2019, according to recent research from eMarketer. Desktop computer is the preferred device for booking travel accommodations for 66 percent of U.S. travelers surveyed, according to a January 2017 TrustYou report. TrustYou is a platform for guest reviews, surveys and social posts.

USDM Take-Away: 2017’s majority demographic, Millennials, have grown up using, and dependent on, computers and mobility. You need to budget for upgrading desktop and mobility user experience to meet the needs of online bookers to get your share of the market.

TRENDMore than 90% of respondents from the US and UK said that responding to hotel companies via text message would either be “very” or “somewhat” useful, according to a December 2016 study from OpenMarket. Chat-based messaging apps, like chatbots, are gaining favor with travelers who liked these text interfaces for a number of reasons, including the ability to avoid calling the front desk and being able to easily access confirmation details. More than 53% of respondents said they found texting hotels useful because they could have their confirmation number easily accessible, while nearly 31% liked that they didn’t have to use a landline phone to contact hotel staff.

U.S. internet users would like to receive travel destinations recommendations by text. A November 2016 study by DigitasLBi, which asked US internet users about the types of recommendations they would like to receive from chatbots reported accommodations and travel destinations recommendations were respondents’ second and third most popular responses. Product recommendations from stores were the most popular response.

USDM Take-Away: Travelers’ use of messaging platforms (such as Facebook Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp, WeChat, or others) around the world grew throughout 2016. Texting-rather-than-phoning is another Millennial-driven behavior that has gained traction across all demographics. As with many digital trends, consumers lead suppliers in using this platform, but some travel brands (Marriott and Hilton) are taking the lead in adapting to digital evolution. Consider testing a messaging platform that includes more one-to-one communication for convenience, and plan how many channels you would cover with your testing and tactical plan.

TREND: Virtual Travel Assistant services are quickly, easily, and dramatically changing how travel information is provided.
Web sites, apps, and robots — many utilizing artificial intelligence (think IBM’s Watson) that simulates intelligent human behavior — are increasingly used by hotels, airlines, even destinations (go to: http://austintexas.wayblazer.com/locations/austin-tx) to simplify and automate travel planning by providing quicker responses and more relevant content to questions posed by travelers.  This AI provides lower level services while freeing up human resources for more complex tasks.

USDM Take-Away:  The evidence for embracing digital technology innovations is pretty clear.  Planning your 5-year budget projections to include these innovations is critical to have a seat at the table in future market share and profits. Falling behind is not an option in today’s world.

TRENDAs travelers use social media to get travel recommendations from friends, family and bloggers, Travel Bloggers are quickly replacing travel writers as major influencers. clear. Planning your 5-year budget projections to include these innovations is critical to have a seat at the table in future market share and profits. Falling behind is not an option in today’s world.

USDM Take-Away:  We continue to see the growing influence of “digital-based recommendations.” The convenience and value of researching online before purchase is rapidly increasing the importance of bloggers and reviews. However, some travel brands are not setting up the proper program and blur the lines between paid bloggers and travel writers. We have seen the damage caused by the “ready, fire, aim” approach. The importance of Social Media marketing, bloggings, and reviews must be included in your marketing plans and budget but using today’s modern marketing approach and playbook.


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