The Great American Road Trip. The European Rendezvous. The Weekend Getaway. No matter what adventure suits your style, one thing is for sure: the tourism industry is booming. If we’re talking numbers on a global scale, it’s to the tune of 2.3 trillion U.S. dollars per year. And while the modes of transportation haven’t changed all that much—whether by land, sea or air—our reasons to pack up that well-worn suitcase have. In 2018, the industry is very much catering to generational shifts, the impact of social media and the rising expectations of tourists (plus consumers in general). Here we breakdown the Top Three trends not be overlooked, especially by marketers.
1. Millennials want travel memories that last a lifetime.
Millennials are ____. Yes, the nation’s largest generation have been called too many things to recount. But you’ve got to hand it to them—they know where their priorities are. Experiences over physical wants continues to ring true for those born between ’81 and ’96. What better way to express that than through the joys and curiosities of travel? Putting off marriage, kids and the white picket fence has left a lot of dollars up for grabs. Don’t be fooled into thinking they won’t spend it. You should be actively pursuing their business, though their habits are anything but old-school.
For Baby Boomers, travel destinations tended toward the iconic and well-known. Hawaiian Islands, deserving of tropical shirts and retro shades, come to mind. On the contrary, millennials are after trips seen as unique and out-of-the-ordinary. Travel Agent Central says 6 of the 10 leading destinations for 2018 are international. This is a direct response to social media, where everyone from celebrities to the next-door neighbor is bragging about where they are. A lot of travel inspiration comes from a smartphone screen, but that’s not the only thing.
Booking trips through apps, especially through middle-man booking sites that promise the best deals, is standard practice for the generation who wants everything. They might be impulsive enough to book a last-minute vacation, but they won’t accept the first deal they find. They’re fierce bargain hunters, checking multiple sites until they find a package not to be passed up. Special rewards or upgrades? Even better.
What this means for you:
- Leverage social media to show your destination’s best sides.
- Focus more on the experience and the stories behind it.
- Ensure that your website is mobile-friendly.
2. Always on trial in the court of social opinion.
If social media isn’t providing inspiration for travelers, then it’s giving them a veritable soundboard for expressing how they feel. Per Business Wire, 97% of millennials share photos and videos of their travels. They might use it to call out how unclean a hotel room was, or marvel at the scenic beauty of a city on the other side of the world. What it boils down to is that they’ve got a lot of expectations for the journeys they embark upon. Their refusal of mediocrity shouldn’t come as a surprise. Modern consumers are more savvy than ever, and they recognize their loyalty as being a commodity to brands. Don’t forget that a destination can be a brand, too. Mindstream’s recent work with Visit California reminded us of that in new and fascinating ways.
Tackling expectations starts with a shift in how travelers are viewed. They’re all totally unique. They care about different things, want to eat different food, prefer certain activities and generally yearn to be surprised and delighted. That means putting the emphasis on personalization. Make them feel like the most important visitor you have, even if that’s not true. Their satisfaction, syndicated across social and influencing tourists everywhere, holds an immense amount of power.
What this means for you:
- Use psychographics to learn more about tourists and inform social strategy
- Create personalized and sharable experiences.
- Everyday tourists are the best influencers you can find.
3. Travel is becoming an enjoyable part of work again.
Even with first-class flights and the company card, business travel has always suffered from a lack of time. It’s a common occurrence to arrive somewhere breathtaking, only to sit in a meeting room for five days and be whisked back to where you came from. It’s travel without the advantage of adventure. That’s why bleisure, the buzz word that combines business + leisure, is on the rise. People are booking more trips with a business component, they’re extending stays to sight-see beyond the conference room window and they’re doing so in a way that saves both them—and their companies—some cash in the process.
Bleisurists, if you will, are an emerging market. In a study conducted by BridgeStreet Global Hospitality, nearly half of the respondents said they add personal travel days to business trips “every trip” or to “most trips.”
More and more people are catching onto this trend, and 2018 is the year to convert them. There are a lot of incentives to make that upcoming business trip feel in line with a vacation. For starters, it’s about offering an experience that caters to work-life balance. Employees won’t feel ashamed to use those PTO hours, because they’re still contributing work time. Bosses will be pleased to offer the work-life balance that’s so crucial to their employee’s health, happiness and general productivity.
Companies with allowing work policies won’t just be incentivized through promoting a relaxed and rewarding culture. For them, it all comes down to cost savings. Often, an extended weekend stay can dramatically lower flight and hotel costs. Other scenarios, like events closely following one another or large group travel, make a case for keeping workers “on location” rather than shuffling them back and forth. That’s the kind of thing that causes burnout, which is among the 9-to-5 downsides that gave rise to bleisure in the first place.
What this means for you:
- Promote bleisure through themes of mental well-being, professional development and financial gain.
- Recognize that you’re selling a lifestyle—not just another vacation.
- Travelers can be further incentivized by bringing family, friends and significant others along.
And just like that, our trip ends. Now you know three significant trends happening in Travel & Tourism, and what they mean to your marketing efforts. Get to know the top social media trends in 2018 just as well.