In Trends

cooking classIt’s the first quarter of the year, so this is likely not the first “trends” blog post you’ve read. But, if you operate in the travel sector, it is an important one. Because we’re sharing five of the tourism marketing trends our agency will be bringing to our own clients in 2019. While they’re not all brand-new concepts, most are being taken to heights never imagined before.

Experiential Travel 2.0

“Experiential” has gone from an aspirational buzzword to a minimum expectation for travelers. Whether you’re a DMO, resort or tour operator, pushing authentic local experiences is a proven motivator for attracting visitors. The trick in 2019 is ensuring the experiences you’re offering are more immersive and transformative than your competitors.

Food will continue to be the way to visitors’ hearts—and Instagram feeds—with even more travelers hungry for culture and adventure planning trips around signature culinary offerings. Think: cooking classes in Tuscany, making your own wine in Napa Valley or street food tours in Bangkok—any experience that allows visitors to get a true flavor of a destination and all the #foodporn posts they can squeeze out of it.

Life imitates art when travelers book vacations to get up close and personal with pop culture—especially when it comes to the location of their favorite movie or TV show. Visit Albuquerque took full advantage of the popularity of AMC’s series Breaking Bad to promote its destination as the star character of this show with a cult following.

Finally, it’s no longer enough to experience a destination like a local. Travelers in 2019 want meaningful, direct interactions with residents in their everyday haunts and at locales well outside the tourist areas. This way of traveling makes them feel less like unwanted outsiders and more like unofficial citizens, at least for the duration of their stay.

More Personalized Personalization

Personalization should not begin and end at greeting a guest by name and knowing their room preference. From initial research to planning to booking to consuming, travel providers collect valuable data that can be used to deliver spot-on messaging and hyper-relevant offers throughout the customer journey.

Here’s an example in hospitality: the Hilton Honors app delivers more than a booking engine and keyless entry from guests’ smartphones. Personalized features include a Fun Finder that automatically sends special offers and event invitations when guests are within close proximity of those amenities (i.e. the spa) and ups experience customization even further with the Conrad Concierge.

Travel for the Greater Good

With Millennials and Generation Z flooding the travel market, responsible tourism plays a mighty role in deciding where to go. According to the Association of British Travel Agents’ (ABTA) Travel Trends Report 2019, 45% of travelers say the sustainability of their travel provider is important, compared to just 24% who responded the same way in 2014.

But it’s not just a destination or property’s greenness that resonates with these conscientious travelers. The desire to make a positive impact on the communities they visit has fueled a multi-billion dollar voluntourism industry. Unfortunately, this tremendous growth did not come without its share of controversy over shady practices. If you choose to offer volunteer opportunities for your visitors and guests, be sure to do your research and partner with a reputable organization supporting a worthy cause.

Tech-Savvy Solutions

With a world of data right at vacationers’ fingertips, travelers have the knowledge and power to go it alone—finding their way around a destination and spontaneously booking tours, restaurant reservations, attraction tickets or just about anything else direct from their smartphones. Add to this the long list of augmented reality (AR) apps—from language translators to city guides to DIY walking tours—that are widely available to enhance their travel experiences.

But AR isn’t the only high-tech game in town. Eye for Travel recently published a whitepaper on the burgeoning use of virtual reality (VR) with examples of how travel agents, hospitality companies and other providers are using the technology to market their travel offerings to consumers.

Demand for “Digital Detox”

Of course, when your iPhone starts reporting that your screen time is up double digits day after day (after day!), even the most tech-loving among us can get the urge to go off-grid. And travel providers are responding to that desire.

Tour operators are taking groups on more off-the-beaten-trail journeys to destinations without WIFI (or even electricity). Some hotels and resorts are now offering creative incentives to detach guests from their devices while other properties enforce outright phone bans. While these digital detox efforts can go a long way in promoting wellness and relaxation, there is a definite downside to marketers—the loss of invaluable user-generated content. Because, without their phones, how else can your guests post that envy-inducing poolside cocktail or spectacular view outside their window?

These are just five of the tourism marketing trends we’re watching and strategically employing in 2019. If you want to leverage these trends and other powerful tactics we have up our expert sleeves, reach out to Lynn Kaniper at 609.466.9187 ext. 117 or today.

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