Time seems to be flying by at the speed of light, and every day there are new technologies, gadgets and tools being launched. The trouble is, most of them seem to go just as quickly as they came, leaving us with a bit of a dilemma: Which ones are here to stay, and which are just a hype that will have been forgotten about by the end of the week? With 2017 just around the corner, and those Marketing Plans to be set and defined, we need to know which of these digital marketing trends are worth investing in in 2017 and how we can apply them to marketing in the travel industry.
5 digital travel marketing trends that will help you triumph in 2017
1# The three most important ingredients: Mobile, mobile and mobile
Mobile is no longer a “marketing trend” - there is no doubt left that mobile has become an intrinsical and unarguably vital part of our day to day lives, and is here to stay. In 2014, mobile internet accessed took over desktop access for the first time, and shows no signs of slowing down. According to SmartInsights, 80% of Internet users own a smartphone, and this shows absolutely no sign of slowing down in any way. And we can see the effects of this taking over in all areas, including the travel marketing industry: bookings through mobile devices represented 12% of all travel bookings in 2014, which by 2015 almost doubled to 23%, and continues to rise. Predictions show that by 2019, mobile will have taken over 46% of digital travel sales.
Whether it’s to research a destination or itinerary, make a booking, connect with a brand and leave a review, or even during their travels (via Online Boarding Passes, Booking Confirmations, eTickets, etc.) there is no denying the paramount importance for travel brands to be mobile. It is not good enough to just have a website that can also be viewed on a mobile device, however. A user’s digital experience with your brand has to be easy, intuitive, responsive and fluid - or they will simply not bother. What’s more, it has been seen that users spend 89% of their of their media time using mobile apps as opposed to mobile websites - meaning that if your brand does not yet have an app, 2017 is the time to launch it! Here is a guide to creating your app marketing strategy, if you need a hand!
2# Content Marketing: Out with Outbound, and In with the Inbound
Marketing, especially for the travel and tourism industry, has become less and less about selling, and increasingly more about inspiring users. People want to be swept off their feet by the beauty, incredulity and adventure of a destination, and it is precisely that which will make them want to purchase what you have to offer. Enter Content Marketing - the marketing of the future. The truth is that travellers are not impulse buyers - they will do thorough research before choosing who or where to dedicate their precious vacation days to. Offer people information, what they want to know and see, and show them how your product or service relates to that need, or can help them achieve their goal.
Whether it’s through awe-inspiring articles on a blog about destinations and what to do there, or breathtakingly stunning photographs - make your goal to draw users in rather than pushing yourself on them.
Take Renfe-SNCF en Coopération, for example. In an effort to promote their high speed train routes that link top destinations in Spain and France, they invested in a Content Marketing strategy by, each month, publishing articles on their blog that tell users all about the incredible things they can do in the amazing cities they travel to. Currently, the Content Advertising campaigns they run, based on these articles, in France and Spain contribute around 20% of their total website visits, and over 85% of the new users who discover the brand every month.
High quality photography also plays a very important role in the travel world - there are few things that will inspire users more than an amazing photograph of somewhere they are dreaming of travelling to. The best part is, you don’t even have to do the photographing yourself! Try launching contests or giveaways on social media for the best images and photos of certain topics or destinations, use a hashtag, and let the magic unfold! Not only will you be promoting your brand and generating buzz, but at the end you can award the winner and feature their stunning pictures through your account and on your website.
Still not convinced this is a travel marketing trend? Read this Case Study that proves how to increase sales with Content vs. Outbound Marketing.
3# In Social Media We Trust
Where to even begin? The undeniable evidence of the staggering importance of Social Media in the lives of each and every one of us, whether as users or as marketers, leaves no room for argument - 2017 is the time to get your social media strategy on point!
Social Networks are a great place not only for you to reach out to your users, but for them to reach back out to you and engage with you. By having them add you as a friend, follower or fan, you are guaranteeing your brand a spot in their daily lives - how you then use it and take advantage of it, is up to you. Whatever your social marketing strategy may be, be sure to engage with your users, and let them know that you are there for them, and to help them with whatever they may need, as well as to have fun with them! Creating social media contests or giveaways, games or other interactive activities will not only strengthen your relationship with your current users, but will also create a buzz around your brand and help you reach out to so many more.
It is also a great place to make the most of User Generated Content, and generate a flow of content promoting your brand that was not created by your advertising team, which is very important. The Social Times proved that 92% of consumers trust earned media more than any other forms of advertising - and with all the scams out there, who can blame them?
Check out which are the best social media channels for travel marketing, and why!
4# Reviews = Bookings
The hard truth is that positive reviews from real people who have had real experiences are almost as important as lower or special prices. According to a poll carried out by Webcredible, when the time comes to make an online booking, 29% of users consider positive online reviews to be the most likely influencer, compared to 38% of consumers who consider it to be prices and special offers or promotions. What this means is that if you are looking for a way to boost your sales without reducing your prices, investing some time and effort into building a user review log can significantly improve your conversions. And that’s not all: they also significantly increase the amount of time people spend on your website.
User reviews are something you should definitely be encouraging and making possible, and the great thing is that they won’t make it hard for you: 76% of travelers share their experiences through social networks, and consider them an extremely reliable source of information. In fact, 49% say they consider travel reviews to be the “most useful” source of information when planning a trip.
And just to put your mind at ease: bad reviews are not bad - in fact, they are positive (to a certain extent)! Some bad reviews give your website a lot more credibility, and your reaction to these reviews show users how amazingly you will treat, help and take care of them when something goes wrong. Just be sure to answer them and do your best to rectify any situations!
5# Personalization: Each customer is unique, treat them as such!
Let’s face it - the amount of information and content out there on the online world is utterly overwhelming, and it becomes so easy to miss out on so many things, or ignore information, because it is simply too much for us to take in. Which makes it absolutely imperative to tailor advertising and marketing to the individual consumer. The “one size fits all” approach, promoting it to the masses in hopes of stumbling upon a few success is a thing of the past. Sure, even a broken clock is right twice a day, but it is simply inefficient.
Whether it is through email marketing, retargeting, promoting related content or highly segmented campaigns, the dawn of the digital age has blast open our border and limitations, offering us endless possibilities not only to automate what manually is almost impossible, but to get to know our users, and to offer them exactly what they need, exactly when they need it. Use personalization to let your users know that you are there for them, that you know them, and have something made especially for them.
The digital marketing trends of today, be it through social media or by applying artificial intelligence to marketing tools, offer us unique and never before seen opportunities to get right alongside our users and see the world through their eyes - leaving it up to us, as marketers, to use them to make both ours and our users’ lives easier.
Written by: Chantal India