The Landscape of Today’s Travel Sector
Consumer spending habits are changing rapidly, but travel remains a constant priority. In a current study by travel advice website TripAdvisor, 32% of respondents indicated plans to spend more on travels in 2015 than in 2014. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the travel industry contributed $7.5 trillion in GDP and 277 million jobs to the global economy in 2014. The travel sector is expected to keep expanding at an annual rate of 3.8% over the next ten years to $11.4 trillion. And that’s good news, because the travel industry remains the biggest business in the world, accounting for 9% of the global GDP (according to Forbes).
The Profile of Today’s Common Traveler
We know the travel sector has some serious spending power behind it. Now, what about more details on today’s common traveler? The largest rising trend is what experts call the “experience economy.” Consumers are increasingly willing to spend money on experiences rather than material possessions. This trend is particularly strong among the millennial generation (those between the ages of 18 and 34.) According to MMGY Global, 6 out of 10 millennials would rather spend money on memorable experiences than material goods. But this trend is not exclusive to millennials. In a survey by The Futures Company for American Express, 82% of respondents across all age groups said they were “more interested in making memories than making money,” while some 85% agreed with the statement that “spending money on travel is an investment worth making.”
In addition to a solid travel budget, today’s travelers are also extremely hyper-connected. These travelers are snapping, sharing, researching and reviewing on the fly – leaving a data footprint with significant potential for marketers who leverage it to match brand experiences to customer needs. Technology has become a staple for making travel easier and more enjoyable. Travelers expect that the travel industry (tour companies, hotels, hostels, Airbnb, etc.) keep up with the latest technology trends such as wearables, pre-booking virtual reality experiences, mobile optimized websites and more. We’ve compiled a short list of what today’s travelers want:
- Wi-Fi – Travelers aren’t going anywhere without their mobile phones! Wi-Fi capabilities at the hotel or Airbnb are a must – not a plus.
- Personalization – Travelers want their preferences and likes to be recognized, and are willing to fork over some data in return. According to the American Express survey, 83% of millennials would allow travel companies to track their habits and behavior in return for better, more individualized experiences.
- The Best Deal - Today’s digital natives drive a tough bargain and conduct an average of 5.1 research sessions and visit 3.3 websites before booking on mobile devices (Mobile Path to Purchase.)
- The More the Merrier –Unlike previous generations, millennials like to travel with their friends.
- Sharing is Caring – Millennials share their experiences over various social media channels. 76% of social media users ping their friends with status updates and vacation photos. The impact puts postcards to shame: According to the same study, 52% of Facebook users have made travel plans based on friends’ photos.
- Bucket List - With a willingness to spend more money, travelers are looking to check dream travel destinations off their bucket lists.
- Free Stuff - Everybody likes free perks – and 77% of today’s travelers even base their booking decisions on free amenities (TripAdvisor). Topping the “want” list, 74% want free in-room Wi-Fi; 60% want free breakfast; and 58% free shuttle service.
Mapping out Travel Marketing Campaigns
With the travel industry packing this sort of power, it begs the question: how will travel change and cater to the hyper-connected, experience-driven consumer? The race for providing memorable customer journeys sees companies in the travel industry ramping up digital infrastructures to leverage customer data into actionable intelligence.
These 3 companies have done just that:
NECKERMANN: SUMMER VACATIONS CUSTOMERS ARE BOUND TO “LIKE”
Neckermann is the largest Belgian tour operator, offering a wide range of travel products and services at attractive price points. In order to increase sales in Fall and Winter, when most customers book their summer vacations, Neckermann wanted to send customers personalized offers based on their purchase histories and preferences. To separate themselves from competitors, Neckermann had to present travelers with highly personalized offers while also showcasing its extensive product portfolio highlighting the benefits of booking through an omni-channel company like itself. Therefore, the tour operator launched a Fall campaign with an offline brochure and online messaging to increase brand awareness and customer engagement, supported by data-driven marketing tools. With the help of Selligent, Neckermann was able to drive people from their physical shops (offline) to their website (online) – a move that also increased the amount of data available for capture. In the next step, Neckermann created a holistic and complete view of their customers by merging all behavioral, web and email data in their CRM system. Selligent’s 360° customer view enabled Neckermann to target each traveler at the right time with the right message, which led to an increase in summer vacation sales and a positive brand image.
BOOKIT: PERSONAL COMMUNICATIONS IN REAL TIME
Bookit.nl is the leading Dutch provider of short vacations and weekend getaways, with nearly a dozen sites…each with a specific niche travel focus. Selligent helped transform this experience into an automated real-time journey offering travelers immediate responses, relevant content, and useful reviews – while delivering the personal touch Bookit is known for. Now, when a customer books a trip, all captured data is sent to Selligent and a real-time message is triggered to wish them a nice stay and offer travel tips for their destination. Bookit also encourages user-generated content (like reviews), and Selligent’s survey system automatically triggers follow-up survey invitations asking travelers to share their experiences and score all places where they spent time. On the backend, Bookit can monitor geographical breakdown of all customers by loyalty value, travel history, comments and loyalty point scores.
MMV HÔTELS & RÉSIDENCES
Mer Montagne Vacances (MMV) is one of the leading hotel operators in the French Alps. Every year, over 130,000 customers put their trust in MMV for their winter sports or summer vacations, choosing from the company’s 17 top-rated club hotels and 14 vacation villages. With the help of Selligent, the travel provider was able to consolidate all data from multiple touchpoints into one central repository, and drive personalized engagement. At the same time, making the switch to the Selligent platform also boosted MMV’s customer service capabilities by integrating up-to-date customer data into support agents’ data streams. Throughout the customer life cycle, Selligent’s 360° customer profiles capture all data assets, the vacations they browse online, the destinations they book, and all of their response history in one place. This serves as the basis for automated but personalized customer surveys, newsletters, and offers through Selligent’s Customer Care portal, allowing the company to provide the same level of quality across all channels.
The travel industry will continue to adapt and change with travelers’ wants and needs, maintaining its reputation as an early adopter of emerging technologies. Marketers will need to stay informed on travel and technology trends to accurately target and personalize offers and communications to their audiences.
Looking to learn more? Download the full Selligent Travel Trend Report HERE.