The travel industry is one of the fastest-growing industries worldwide, due in no small part to its ability to adapt to the times. A recent example of the industry’s adaptability came last year during the pandemic, when the tourism sector was forced to discover new methods of growing revenue. While multiple businesses paid the ultimate price, many travel companies ditched the old trends and found success, uncovering paths yet to be explored. In the process, a new set of marketing trends and strategies have emerged. At our webinar back in May, we spoke to Molly Battin, SVP of Global Branding at Delta, about this very issue.
Today, marketers have more than their fair share of ways to promote a travel business. Yet, some of them stick to the old techniques and focus their efforts on local advertising or making tactical improvements to the customer experience—like adding garage floor epoxy coating in hopes of boosting the prestige of their hotels. However, paying close attention to online travel marketing may be a more effective method.
With Virtual Reality (VR) tours and influencer marketing becoming more prevalent with each passing year, it might be the right time to take a step back and reassess which trends are worth following and which are worth acting upon for your business.
Here are our top five marketing trends from this past year.
1. Influencer Marketing
In a world where one tweet or one online review can change the minds of thousands of potential customers, no marketer can stay on the sidelines and be a spectator. Marketing experts get in the game and use the power of online reviews and tap into influencers to amplify their brand story.
Influencers are people with a substantial online following and opinions that are generally well respected. You can find them on social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, or Instagram. While the reasons behind their popularity may significantly vary, all of them have the potential to help (or hinder) the growth of any kind of business.
The most crucial thing here is to pick the right influencer to collaborate with your business—the right type of influencer to tell your brand story. Influencers should have an established following from a relevant group of target customers and they should have established trust with their audience. If the marketing campaign and influencer are a good match, it can yield overwhelmingly positive feedback and increase sales.
2. Virtual Reality
The use of virtual reality is quickly becoming something more than just a passing trend in online marketing. As many clients want to get a short demo of experiences they can have during their travels, a growing number of travel companies have started to offer VR tours and other forms of virtual reality experiences for their customers.
Creating such an online tour can be an excellent opportunity to showcase all the best business has to offer. From top-notch customer service to expert knowledge and unique attractions—all of these things can be put on display, convincing more travelers to use the company’s services. For example, a hotel might do a VR tour around the hotel rooms, while a travel agency may benefit from offering VR videos of tourist attractions.
3. Artificial Intelligence
Although artificial intelligence (AI) proved to be far more A than I on more than one occasion, it can be a helpful tool for effectively managing communication channels and staying in touch with customers. Many companies are already reaping the benefits of using chatbots or AI-powered tools in email marketing.
Travel marketers can use AI to send personalized emails to prospects, quickly answer frequently asked questions, perform detailed data analysis, bid on ad space relevant to target audiences, and many other purposes. With such a powerful tool at their disposal, they might create convincing messages and build brand equity with ease.
4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Another widespread trend in travel marketing is search engine optimization (SEO), which focuses on creating high-quality content and delivering the best user experience for all who visit the company’s website. Many people even go so far as to claim that it is now an indispensable part of running a business online.
So, what is SEO? Although providing an exhaustive definition is challenging, one may consider it a set of good practices concentrated on letting more people find a particular business on the internet. An SEO expert should ensure that the business’s website is mobile-optimized, the on-site content is keyword-rich and well-written, and the backlinks are of the highest quality, among other factors.
Following even a few SEO basics can make the company’s page skyrocket into one of the top spots on search engine results pages (SERPs). This, in turn, can bring in new clients and improve brand recognition, making the marketer’s job a lot easier.
5. User-Generated Content
Besides following the voice of influencers or their favorite reviewers, many people also like to consult other internet users before visiting the company’s office or website themselves. As a result, marketers are willing to pass the torch of promoting products and services to regular customers much more often.
Most companies allow their customers to create short videos describing their experiences or post comments under the blog posts on their website. Moreover, successful brands frequently hold various contests on their social media profiles and use the customers’ answers to create promotional content. For instance, they often use hashtag campaigns to encourage user-generated content.
Doing all of these things makes the relationship between the company and its customers seem more natural. Consequently, it creates an image of a customer-friendly brand, resulting in positive PR for the company.
Although the world of travel marketing features an abundance of methods to attract more customers, some marketing trends are more prevailing than others. The tendencies discussed in this article are a growing force in the marketing community that may soon become the new norm. As such, it is worth learning more about them and searching for the best ways to implement them.
Even today, multiple travel agencies and hotels use artificial intelligence and SEO practices to their advantage. Some also go a step further and provide their customers with unique virtual reality experiences and focus on user-generated content. Finally, many brands work with influencers to unlock the full potential of social media.
Each of these marketing strategies has its distinct advantages. The key is to find the one that is the best fit and provides the most benefits for the company.
If you’re looking for more insight into the latest trends in marketing, subscribe to the TopRight blog! Or connect with me on Twitter and on LinkedIn. Also, check out our latest webinar. You can learn more about how to bring simplicity, clarity, and alignment to your brand’s story, strategy, and systems in our best selling book: Marketing, Interrupted.