It’s been a turbulent time for travel over the past few years, with Covid-19 grinding the travel industry to a halt and a looming cost of living crisis. However, with 88% of consumers saying they’ve started planning a vacation in the next 12 months, the travel industry might have been disrupted, but it’s by no means canceled.
So how can brands in the tourism sector win over a new wave of eager travelers?
It’s all about connecting with potential customers at every stage of their travel purchase journey, from inspiration to booking, budget considerations to what activities they take part in.
1. Travel inspiration
Let’s start at the beginning. Where are consumers getting their vacation inspiration?
In order for brands to grab their consumers’ attention, they need to know the answer to this all important question.
Postcard perfect images in tourism brochures and travel agent windows on the highstreet used to be the perfect way to spark dreams of jetting off.
But social media is coming to the forefront as a leader for vacation inspiration.
For Gen Zs, a staggering 60% say social media influences their decision about where to go. Influencers have been responsible for making a huge number of previously little visited destinations popular, and with many consumers wanting their vacation snaps to match their aesthetic, working with influencers and creating social ads are just the ticket for connecting with this target group.
Social isn’t just for inspo hunters, Gen Zs in particular are using social media when it comes to planning their vacation. They’re 25% more likely than everyone else to use it for travel research and planning as part of the booking stage.
But they’re not just looking for curated content here, they want real information. And they’re heavily influenced by their own family and friends’ experiences too.
Making reviews, informative content on hotels, best places to eat and local attractions part of the social media strategy can ensure brands are putting their best flip flop forwards when it comes to attracting new customers.
But it’s not all about social media when it comes to travel research, over 1 in 5 say travel booking sites are their most important source of information – and this is true across almost all generations. So if you’re looking to reach more than just Gen Z, blogs on booking sites could be key in reaching these other consumers.
Save or splurge? That is the dilemma holidaymakers are facing. Does the desire for revenge vacations outweigh concerns over rising living costs? With 64% of vacation planners saying they compare deals and prices between different booking sites or compare deals with hotel sites directly, you might think many are looking to make cuts.
But some are keen to blow the budget out of the water. 15% of holiday planners say they look for options toward the top range or look for top-range options – this creeps up to 17% of millennials who will no doubt be a key traveler segment to win over in the luxury travel market.
Offering price filtered options with easy comparisons between choices can help speak to both audiences. For a travel brand, knowing your target audience, their hobbies and interests can help ensure you’re providing the best experiences for their budgets.
With over half of domestic and international vacation intenders saying they’ve booked at least some part of their trip, such as accommodation, activities, or transport, for their vacations in the next 12 months, advance booking is big business.
By giving consumers the option to spread the costs over a longer period of time, brands can ensure they’re speaking the same language as their consumers and take the stress out of saving for a vacation. It also affords lower income earners the opportunity to push the boat out on their next trip.
What consumers are looking for from transport providers is changing, and expectations are at an all time high, making it increasingly difficult for brands to win consumers over.
Whether they’re traveling by car, boat, plane or train, travelers want their transport to be easy, affordable and reliable, especially after the chaos of Covid cancellations, but there are also other factors at play.
The environment is a key concern among millennials, with 38% saying they’re very or extremely concerned about the carbon footprint of their travel, and they’re the most likely of all generations to choose a travel provider with a good sustainability or environmental policy. Transport providers need to consider eco options such as electric car rentals, lower-emission flights, and alternative methods of transport if they want to hit the mark with this group.
Flexibility is also a key factor when it comes to enticing post-pandemic travelers, who are understandably feeling apprehensive about booking a vacation. When asked which factors were most important if booking a trip tomorrow, 38% of consumers said free cancellation and rebooking, the highest of all factors.
Where do they want to go?
Singapore, Japan, Australia, Italy, France and Canada are all among consumer’s top destinations.
Understanding the most-desired destinations for their target audience and how they want to travel can help travel providers predict demand and dial their services up or down accordingly. These insights, combined with data on their customers’ booking deal breakers can help brands create and promote the right deals that really hit the mark with their audience.
Whether it’s an action packed city break, or a laid back vacation on the beach, brands need to know what consumers are looking for.
Gen Zs are looking for an experience.
Factors like visiting a new place or culture, exploring the outdoors, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and doing new, exciting things are all higher on the agenda for this group. When it comes to which activities they enjoy on vacations, Gen Z are ahead of other generations for saying action or adventure pursuits, and visiting theme and water parks.
On the other hand, baby boomers’ standout activities include sightseeing, visiting museums or galleries, and fine dining.
Ensuring you’re offering the right activities for your target audience is vital. And knowing where to reach them is even more so. With many Gen Zs looking to plan ahead, showcasing activities alongside travel and accommodation bookings is more likely to prove a success. While baby boomers are more spontaneous and more likely to be open to booking activities while on vacation.
How important is a customer review for travel brands? In short, very. With 41% of millennials saying they make decisions of what to book based on reviews, having negative, or no, reviews can have a serious impact for brands.
Consumers aren’t booking just because somewhere looks good, they need to know it’s going to be good.
After the past few years of uncertainty, people are looking to guarantee a good experience.
Travel brands need to be shouting about their reviews, showcasing them on websites and social media, or working with brand advocates, so consumers can easily find them.
Travel turbulence has thrown the tourism industry up in the air, but with the right data, it doesn’t have to be a bumpy landing. Knowing what consumers are looking for, can give brands a clear path to getting back on track, and be able to provide the best customer experience along the whole travel purchase journey.