The ever-evolving world of travel is going through some exciting changes recently.
2017 saw some interesting trends developing in the travel industry – so what travel trends can we expect for 2018?
When our grandparents were venturing away on holiday, they could be reasonably sure of getting an ‘authentic’ cultural experience. However, as flights became cheaper, and resorts popped up, some popular tourist hotspots became overcrowded, overdeveloped, and far less appealing to those seeking an immersive cultural experience.
Increasingly, modern consumers are frustrated with the ubiquity and the over-commercialisation of tourist resorts. They want to go back to first principles, to get away from the beaten track, to immerse themselves in a foreign culture, to experience new things, to learn, and to have a unique experience of their very own (let’s not forget that ‘unique cultural experiences’ also make for great Instagram posts…).
Accordingly, travel brands will increasingly be providing customers with something a bit more unique, culturally immersive, and authentic. Package deals to chain resorts just aren’t going to cut it for this audience segment.
Every year, we grow more and more aware of the myriad of ways in which our lifestyles affect the environment. Nobody wants to feel like the bad guy when watching David Attenborough mournfully narrate documentaries about soggy polar bears. So eco-conscious consumers want guilt-free holidays.
This is a trend which is likely to grow and grow. In the very near future, people won’t just want environmentally ‘neutral’ holidays – they’ll want holidays which allow them to actively benefit their destinations. People increasingly want to do some tangible good in the world. Getting behind this impulse, and providing consumers with opportunities to help the environments and communities they’re visiting will benefit everyone: consumer, vendor, destination, and the world at large! What’s not to like?
Until recently, booking tours and activities for your holiday has been a minor headache. You either have to do it when talking to your travel agent, or sort it out in the destination itself. This isn’t always ideal – you don’t necessarily have a firm plan when you’re in the initial stages of holiday organisation, and nobody wants the hassle of booking tours etc when they’re supposed to be relaxing on holiday.
Enter the internet. Front-loading holidays with activities booked online is going to become easier, more convenient, and therefore more popular. Everyone would prefer the ease of comparing providers and booking holiday add-ons semi-independently, and at leisure. Advances in search-and-book technology mean that online holiday prep is likely to grow exponentially in both popularity and transparency.
Brand loyalty is harder to come by than it used to be. In order to keep customers on board and engaged, travel brands need to be providing value at every stage of a customer’s holiday – right from the initial research, to stepping of the plane and back into the British drizzle.
Thinking of ways to add value to the customer’s entire trip will take some creativity and innovation, but it’s very much worth doing. There’s also a fine line to walk between being perpetually useful, and being intrusive. But the brands which can crack the formula will reap the increasingly elusive reward of customer loyalty.
Google has long been the all-powerful bastion of online traveller-targeting. But many brands would like Facebook to improve their own paid for targetings, thus giving another avenue through which to reach consumers, and providing an alternative to Google.
Recently, Facebook have admitted that their ‘funnel’ isn’t as narrow or as sophisticated as Google’s when it comes to identifying traveller intent. In the future, they’ve promised to invest in and work hard at identifying potential travellers, and getting advertising out to the people who could benefit from them.
While Google continues to dominate the online travel-marketing scene at present, expect to see huge advances in Facebook travel-marketing in 2018.
All in all, if you’re a travel brand, your New Year’s resolutions need to revolve around providing value and authenticity at every stage of your customers’ (literal) journeys, as well as exploring ways in which your clients can benefit the destinations they visit. With any luck, Facebook’s improved targeting metrics, and the development of search-and-book tech online should make these resolutions easier to keep. Happy New Year!