Travel experiences: 5 digital marketing trends in travel

You Only Live Once, or YOLO is now the central theme under which travel experiences are trending, especially with consumer segmentation on either end of the age spectrum, Millennials and Boomers.

Here are 5 Digital Marketing trends that travel / tourism operators and brands are capitalizing on in creating YOLO themed travel experiences.

1. Crowd and Challenge Travel Experiences

The experience economy is increasingly seeing travel companies and operators creating opportunities to mix traditional style journeys with crowd and challenge-based experiences. In many cases, now also extending those experiences to include interactions with brands such as P&G, Unilever, RedBull and The Coca-Cola Company to name just a few whom they court at a national level. These type of YOLO travel experiences include two main theme trends;

  • Crowd-based Experiences such as music festivals, concerts and sporting events
  • Challenge-based Experiences that focus on fitness and durability such as triathlons and Tough Mudder, as well as slightly less challenging experiences like the The Color Run; a 5k run now hosted in over 200 cities, Secret cinema and even Escape Room Games.

2. Real-time Moment Marketing

Timing is everything! One of the fastest-growing digital marketing trends in travel is the use of AI and machine learning to understand and interact with each individual traveler or visitor – one at a time, “in the moment” and at scale to deliver the most relevant, individualized experience possible. Now a consumer expectation; the travel and hospitality marketers who are delivering on this expectation are using partners like ndp to deliver segment-based and 1:1 personalized experiences in true real time. Run A/B and multivariate tests of experiences and algorithms to optimize success.

3. Dynamic Content

Often referred to as “dynamic” or “adaptive” content, smart content is the term for all aspects of a digital travel experience; the website, ad, native social content and email where content changes based on the real-time interests, locations and experiences of the viewer; now also referred to as the participant. Be sure to embrace this digital marketing trend to connect at the YOLO moment, and empower the participant to share the experience, and store it for reference and reminders – also known as the ‘Year Ago Effect’ that most everyone is familiar with on Facebook. You can learn more about retargeting experience memories using smart content by speaking with one of our digital travel leads at ndp.

4. Influencer Recommendations Take Flight

The territory between an official testimonial and a subtle product mention, the trend of ‘influencer marketing’ exploded in the last twelve months throughout the travel and hospitality sector. Compensated influencer recommendations provide travel marketing teams targeted exposure to the right consumer in a unique, and most importantly, trusted voice. Creating a roster of relevant influencers for each category of consumer market however can be a daunting task. ndp’s most successful clients say that ndp has been the “essential link in curating a roster of relevant influencers and providing on-point brand exposure guidelines”.

5. Virtual and Augmented Reality

We’re all being eased into enhancing our travel experiences with AR/VR. As with all sectors, marketing teams are experimenting with ways to incorporate augmented and virtual realities, and the tourism and travel industries are at the top of the pack, leading the way with crowd-base, challenge-based and traditional travel experiences being utilized to drive initial interest and engagement in real-time.

Just about every combination of VR/AR headset and programing can be seen somewhere within the fields of the tourism industry. For years hotels have used 360 photos and videos to promote their spaces over the flat-photos Google Images provides, today the trend has evolved to fully-immersive video fly-through and AR overlays to provide a unique and engaging check-in and in-room/on-property experience. While you won’t yet find either AR or VR in every situation when you travel, you will now find at least one example between your planning and experience stages as a participant.

As Millennial and Boomer ‘participant’ traveler preferences, tastes and willingness to embrace technology remain fluid, so must travel and tourism marketing teams, constantly undertaking digital experimentation to leverage trends like the five digital marketing trends in travel noted above.