The travel landscape changes often, and so do travelers’ attitudes towards the travel industry. Los Angeles creative agency Blitz has dug deep and found that today’s travelers have changing attitudes towards what inspires them to venture.
The just released survey and report, Targeting Moments of Need in the New Travel Landscape, shows the impact that technology has had on consumer travel, uncovers travelers’ unmet needs and tells what travel brands must do to meet these new expectations. Blitz and sister agency Amp, who work well-known travel brands such as Disney Parks and Resorts, Icelandair, Hilton, Holland America, Seabourn and Princess Cruises, surveyed US travelers 18-55 who had taken a leisure trip sometime during the last year.
The report cites that the immediacy and personalized interactions with technology brands like Amazon, Facebook and Apple have raised the bar and made it more important for travel companies and marketers to form individual experiences for consumers, especially in the new world of tracking behaviors, choices and purchases. These heightened expectations, and the fact that technology is moving faster than the abilities of most businesses to harness that technology and translate it to sales, means that the travel world will continue to change to keep up, and consumers will have to change with it, especially since their choices are often dizzying.
“Our research shows people are overwhelmed by the trip planning process but by and large they enjoy it,” said Peter Apple, VP of strategy at Blitz. “They also know they would be happier being a little more spontaneous when away from home. So a booking engine that can behave like a simplifier, or a destination that can prompt spontaneity, will drive better business. To compete in this new travel landscape, brand marketers will need to operate their brands as services.”
Some of the findings in the report show that people are highly influenced by the recommendations of others, that they would like to see the travel process simplified and that tech is certainly leading the way.
Selfies are being converted into sales: 84 per cent of Millennials are likely to plan trips based on someone else’s vacation updates and photos in social media. Marketers can create greater brand affinity and distinction by realizing how to leverage social channels differently from other marketing channels.
Travel brands must simplify the whole process: 72 per cent of respondents said they feel overwhelmed when planning a trip. Much of their time is devoted to finding the best deals. Booking engines have an opportunity to provide consumers with time-saving experiences and better management of multiple-trip components. Niche providers are using simple, conversational interfaces. Laptops still are the main planning devices, but mobile is catching up.
Social shares can lead to brand loyalty: 59 per cent of individuals surveyed, and nearly 70 per cent of Millennials, follow travel brands on social media. Uber and Airbnb are the most mentioned brands followed.
Brands must balance tech with a human touch: Even in a connected world, travelers want to connect in person when they need help. Airlines, hotels and tourist attractions shouldn’t be too quick to replace service personnel with digital kiosks. Instead, they must carefully select the right moments for digital interactions. For instance, 73 per cent of travelers said they would be willing or very willing to receive text messages about unplanned excursions, dinners and other experiences while on vacation. Additionally, a new breed of travel agency, combining artificial intelligence and human expertise, appears to be evolving and could disrupt the travel agency industry.
While the travel industry keeps evolving, brands will no doubt have an opportunity to reach travelers, but they must meet their needs with technology, through social channels and be simple in the way they cater to their customers.