By David Kovacs, Founder of TravelSEO.net,
Travel marketing has evolved over the years, even more so in the past decade when Millennials and Gen Z began traveling. With the availability of smartphones, Google and social media, the travel industry has been changed forever.
Travel activities of these younger generations shaped tourism. Statistics show that Millennials take an average of 3 leisure trips per year. Gen Z closely follows at an average of 2.8 per year.
The question now is how to make travel marketing effective. Gone are the days of reliance on paid traditional advertisements. People evaluate if a destination is worth their time and money – and they will continue to do so.
Millennials contributed massively to the boom of the travel industry, thanks to social media. Pictures from vacation are being posted online every minute, which enticed many people to travel.
Millennials would choose to gain new experiences rather than to stay comfortably in a luxurious hotel. However, travel activities of Millennials are bound to change anytime soon. As they grow older, preferences would be different.
Gen Z, on the other hand, is quickly on the rise. According to a Bloomberg report, Gen Z will outnumber Millennials by the end of 2019. As more members of Gen Z reach the legal age of 18, many will have the freedom to make their own travel decisions.
People under Gen Z grew up in the digital world. As they are just entering adulthood, the travel budget is likely an issue. Expect them to find the best options from online sources.
There are clear differences in travel preferences between these two generations. Brands have to customize their approach to ensure that they appeal to both markets. The trick is to create engaging content with a relatable travel campaign.
Having said that, there are still a lot of commonalities between the two.
Common Factors That Affect Travel Trends
Social Media Influence
Members of both generations will likely post travel photos on social media. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are all full of travel posts.
Online friends and other famous people can easily influence anyone. Young travelers form travel bucket lists mostly based on social media posts and travel articles.
Thankfully for tourist destinations, it is easy to track the location of any posted photo. People are
always willing to tag the travel location. This serves as free marketing exposure for brands.
Preference for Authenticity
People think of paid ads as very much curated and are designed to oversell. Many choose to rely on online reviews and unsponsored blog posts. They visit multiple sites before making a spend-decision.
Take for example the hotel industry in Europe. Review sites like Tripadvisor have a huge impact on booking rates. People want to know the truth based on actual user experience. No wonder online reviews directly affect tourist spending.
This does not mean that paid advertisements have no impact. Amazing videos that highlight a hotel’s assets are still effective. Other engaging forms of travel marketing also work well.
Online reviews should match what the brands promote. This forces tourist destinations to level up their service. Give excellent experience and encourage guests to share it online.
Everything is Digital
Today’s young travelers often make plans and book trips directly online. They can check available options and prices in just a few clicks. Hiring travel agencies for the trip is their last priority.
Travel trends also reveal that research is mostly done on mobile gadgets. Smartphone applications make bookings a lot easier.
In fact, reliance on travel apps increases during the trip. It is common to have apps not only for review sites, but also for the weather, map, and airline information.
Always on the Lookout for Something New
The younger generations are willing to skip overcrowded tourist destinations. They are always looking for hidden gems and undiscovered places. They feel better if they discover a new place before their friends do.
Travel blogging started this trend. Influencers and bloggers began sharing their unique experience. As a result, people also wanted to have a story they can brag about.
To be relevant, brands need to continuously offer something new. It can be anything – a new attraction or a new activity. Travelers are willing to revisit places if they think they can gain a different experience.
There is also the rising popularity of local immersion. Travelers want to experience how local lives. They prefer Couchsurfing or staying in Airbnb homes over hotels.
Needless to stay, travel marketing has changed. It will continue to transition in the coming years. As more people become tech-savvy, the industry also becomes more competitive.
With a lot of options under travelers’ sleeves, brands need to have a strong online presence. A solid youth-oriented marketing campaign is needed to thrive in this digital age.